Carl doesn't have a favorite child. He'd never admit to one, not out loud. If you asked him that question in a public space, he'd take you down to your knees, make you cry out the names of those you've wronged, then help you up like the Top-hat and Tails Gentleman he is.
But in his Will, these biscuits are named directly.
The usual biscuit rules apply - do not knead (as you would a yeast dough, a few light turns and folds are just fine, and called for), do not overmix, do not add too much liquid or pulverize the fat too far into the flour. When you pat the dough out, leave it high and regal, which will give you beautiful, proud results. And the soft, tender flake of the crumb, the rich, rounded flavor - they do not read as straight sourdough, but this may be because of the individual characteristics of my starter and enviroment. But they do read as rich - the texture, tang, tenderness and rise of a delicious buttermilk biscuit, but the aroma, complexity and flavor of a great loaf of bread, drawing animals, children and local politicians to your kitchen. The crowns are golden, the layers craggy and visible and the interior as pillowy and soft as down.
Some may say it is cheating, the use of additional leavening, but buttermilk requires both soda and powder to give you a fluffy rise - and I love baking powder biscuits.
A note on this recipe, and any using Sourdough starter - I use a relatively thick starter, with a pull and texture like pancake batter after sitting on the counter for a few moments. I would call it at 70% hydration, meaning if I fed my starter with a cup of flour, I'd match it with just under 3/4 cup of water, scaling the amounts up and down as desired. This is my preference, and many people prefer ratios closer to 100% hydration, with a 1:1 ratio of flour and water. If your starter is thinner, just hold back on the buttermilk, adding just enough to bind the ingredients, but not oversaturate the dough or turn it into something that would work better for drop/spoon biscuits.
But in the end, they're just biscuits. Wonderful, crisp-edged plush biscuits, ready to be split and sandwiched, spread or dragged through whatever would make you happiest. So go do it. Live. Live your best life. Live your best BISCUITS.
Like the OWN Network keeps telling us to.
Sourdough Buttermilk Biscuits (Adapted from TOH)
2 cups All-Purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine salt
1 cup thick (pancake-batter consistency) sourdough starter, fed the night before
½ cup cultured buttermilk
½ cup (1 stick) cubed and frozen butter
Preheat your oven to 425F. Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, two knives, a fork or even a large-hole grater (but don't cube the butter, in that case), cut the fat into the flour, making sure there are small to miniscule boulders. You can use your hands at the very end to really flake together the butter and flour, but there should still be very visible shreds, pebbles and crumbs of butter -- you've heard it a thousand times, but visible evidence of butter will lead to invisible greatness later on, in the form of layers, flakes and tenderness created by the evaporating moisture.
Now add the sourdough starter, and depending on the thickness of your starter, anywhere from three-quarters to all of the buttermilk -- add it in bit by bit, stirring well with a wooden spoon. You want a relatively 'dry' dough, but definitely want to bind together all the flour and butter. If there is a little left in the bottom of the bowl, just turn it out along with the dough and use your hands to gently but confidently press it into the dough -- you're essentially using that flour as bench flour.
Now fold your dough in half, on top of itself, gently -- not pressing down with intense, illegal-supplement force, not kneading, just a guiding Della Reese/Roma Downey-style force. Pat it gently to flatten and fuse, then repeat, from the opposite direction. Press and pat again, until you have a rough, rounded square or circle of dough, around an inch to an inch and a half thick. Begin cutting your biscuits, and depending on your cutter (mine was around two inches wide) and the thickness of your dough (I like tall biscuits), you'll get 8 to 10 biscuits. You can gently reshape the dough scraps after each round of cutting, and for the last biscuit, just form the final scrapes into a rough round shape. I love that biscuit.
Place the biscuits on a low-rimmed aluminum baking sheet and bake for 10 to 13 minutes, until golden brown on top and around the bottom, well-risen and light when picked up. Remove, cool for one minute, then brush the tops with melted butter and serve warm.