Preheat the oven to 450°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Sift together the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Cube the butter or shortening then cut it into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or pulse in a food processor. Cut until it becomes crumbly and resembles peas.
Mix in 1 cup cold buttermilk, just until the crumbs are thoroughly moistened. Add up to 1/4 cup additional buttermilk, if needed. The dough shouldn't be overly wet but, slightly sticky.
Roll or pat out on a lightly floured surface about 3/4-1 inch thick. Cut into rounds using a 2-inch cookie cutter dipped in flour. Do not twist the dough with the cutter. Cut the dough, then lift the cookie cutter up.
Place biscuits 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with melted butter or heavy cream. Bake at 450°F for 13-15 minutes until lightly golden and puffed.
Brush with melted butter after removing from the oven. Serve immediately.
Whole fat or low fat buttermilk preferred, not fat free.