Angel biscuits are a cross between a yeast roll and a buttermilk biscuit. Dubbed “Angel Biscuits” due to the fact that the recipe uses 3 leavening agents. Yeast, baking powder and baking soda are used in the dough resulting in a biscuit that’s as airy and light as “angels wings.” They have been the rage in Southern kitchens for decades. I can’t think of a single member of my family that doesn’t make these biscuits regularly. My Gramma’s, my Mom and as well as my Aunts each had their own version and technique for making angel biscuits using the same ingredients in varying amounts. There’s just never a bad biscuit in the batch. They’re delicious with a slice of ham, a drizzle of honey, a generous pat of butter or a slathering of homemade jam. They can be served at any meal. They practically are a meal.
My Aunt Beulah, insisted these biscuits be dipped in butter, then folded over and two biscuits placed side by side on the baking pan to form the look of angels wings. My Mom’s preference, is to make the dough one day in advance to allow the flavor of the dough to intensify. This isn’t an imperative step, the biscuits can certainly be made and baked immediately after the first rising as well. Angel biscuit dough can be divided, and baked fresh in smaller batches. Store the dough covered and refrigerated and it will last for as long as one week. In that case, remove the desired amount of dough from the batch, cut or roll into rounds, then allow to rise as directed in the recipe prior to baking.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
- 2 [1/4] oz packets active dry yeast [2 1/4 tsp per packet]
- 1/4 cup warm water [110°F]
- 5 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup chilled butter cubed [1 1/2 sticks]
- 1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening prefer butter flavored
- 2 cups buttermilk lukewarm
- 2-4 Tbsp butter melted to brush the tops
- To make the dough: Sprinkle both packets of dry yeast over the warm water and set aside for 5 minutes.
- Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Cut 3/4 cup of chilled butter and 1/2 cup of chilled vegetable shortening into the dry ingredients until it resembles cornmeal. [Tip: This can be done using a food processor, or a hand mixer on low speed.]
- After the yeast has become creamy and "bloomed" add it to the warm buttermilk and gently stir until combined.
- Make a well in the center of the dough and add the buttermilk/yeast mixture.
- Gradually work the liquid into the dry ingredients until combined. The dough won't be completely smooth.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured non-stick surface. Begin to work the dough, turning and gently kneading just until it comes together and appears smooth.
- At this stage, you may divide the dough, in half if desired. Place half into a buttered bowl, and lay a damp towel on top, then refrigerate. [Tip: The dough may be stored for up to 1 week in the refrigerator]
- Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Use a 2 or 3 inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour to cut into rounds, reshaping the dough as needed. Do not twist the biscuit cutter.
- Place onto a parchment lined or lightly greased baking sheet, then cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise in a draft free place for 1 hour. [see cook's note]
- Melt 4 Tbsp of butter, and brush the tops just before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and bake for 13-15 minutes until golden and cooked through.
- Brush again with melted butter before serving, if desired.
If using Rapid Rise yeast, 1 hour rise time is sufficient. If using plain active dry yeast [long acting] allow the biscuits to rise for 1 1/2 hour.