These are by far the best biscuits I have ever made. I tried them three different ways.
1) All butter
3) Organic Veggie Shortening
The picture below is from the last batch which was the best looking over all because my technique had improved by that point. As far as taste and texture go though, here's what I have discerned from each trial.
Lard is by far the most tender and best for obtaining your desired layers of lushious biscuit-ness because of it's high melting point. It is not as tasty as butter and never will be in my opinion, but once you slather a few tablespoons of butter on the biscuit anyway, who cares?
Shortening - organic shortening with no hydrogenated parts or trans fat specifically, is nice like lard and has a light veggie taste to it. It is a completely acceptable alternative to the other two, but still lacking in flavor what butter has.
So in the end I would consider doing a portion of butter with mostly lard and get the best of both worlds. Mm Mm MM!
BTW, the recipe I used was from King Arthur Flour and was called "Best Buttermilk Biscuits".
If you don't have self rising flour, this is what one of their helpful staff, Mary, told me to do: Using All Purpose flour, spoon 2 Tbs of corn starch, 1 & 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/4 tsp of salt into the measuring cup Before filling the remainder of the cup with flour. Do this for each cup of flour called for.
It only calls for 3 cups of self rising flour, 1/2 cup fat of your choice, 1 Tbs sugar - optional, and 3/4 to 1 Cup of milk or butter. I recommend the 1 cup for more moist biscuits.
As I got to the end of writing this post, looking over the instructions I was given, I realized I didn't do it right. Pfft. Figures. I'm sure I was distracted at the time. I forgot to make up each cup of flour with the changes Mary told me to do and instead only did it once for the whole three cups. Doh. And yet, they still turned out pleasingly tasty and light. A testament to what a good recipe this is!
Well, there's always another day to try to get them done the right way.