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Nancy Wagoner’s Sourdough Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup butter
1 cup sourdough starter at room temperature, but not necessarily freshly fed
½ cup buttermilk at room temperature
Melted butter (for brushing the tops of the unbaked biscuits)

Sift or stir together the flour, salt, soda, and baking powder to mix well. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender, two knives or your fingers until the mixture resembles cornmeal.

Mix the buttermilk and the sourdough starter. I take the starter out of the fridge, measure it into a measuring cup, add the buttermilk to the starter, mix with a spatula, and put the sourdough-buttermilk mixture which is in the measuring cup into a larger container of hot water--changing the water until the starter-buttermilk mixture is room temperature. I feel safe using older starter which has been refrigerated. I am not relying on the yeast in the starter to do all of the work of leavening. The baking powder and soda will do a lot of the leavening for these biscuits. However, there is still some life left in the starter. I wouldn’t warm the mixture in the microwave because the ‘hot spots’ created in a microwave could kill the critters in the starter and we need them to be alive. You could gently warm the buttermilk to no more than 85°, however, and let the starter sit at room temperature for an hour or so and then mix them together.

With a fork, stir the buttermilk-starter mixture into the dry ingredients until a soft dough forms and it comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead gently for 30 seconds. Roll ½ inch thick. Cut biscuits and place on a lightly greased baking sheet with sides touching. Brush tops with melted butter. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes in a warm place. Bake in the center of the oven at 425° for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Nancy’s notes: I use Rumford Baking Powder with no aluminum, I double the recipe very successfully, and many times I use powdered buttermilk. Sometimes my biscuits take longer than 12 to 15 minutes to turn golden brown. Also, by the next day, the biscuits have become soft and have lost their crustiness so, I halve them, run them under the broiler bottom sides first, turn them over, put butter on them, and broil them until they are very crusty, again! In fact, we like them better the second day after being broiled; they are even more crusty! We like apricot jam with them!

Adapted from Sourdough Cookery by Rita Davenport