Bess's BiscuitsAg Illustrated usually doesn’t specify particular brands in recipes, but Bess Eakes’ biscuit recipe is an exception.

“My mother used White Lily flour, my grandmother used White Lily, and it’s the only flour I’ve ever used for biscuits,” says Mrs. Eakes, wife of Auburn horticulture professor Joe Eakes and the Bess in “Biscuits with Bess and Joe.” (Story, Page 1)

For generations, White Lily has been Southern bakers’ flour of choice, especially when it comes to making tender, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits, and as it turns out, Southern cooks know best. According to the folks at White Lily, theirs is the only brand of flour in the U.S. that is milled entirely from soft winter wheat, which contains less protein than hard wheat and thus makes for flakier biscuits and pie crusts.

Still, technique is important to biscuit making, too, and Mrs. Eakes has that down to an art. Her number one piece of advice for producing the lightest, fluffiest biscuits is to avoid overworking the dough. “I don’t knead my dough or roll it out, because the more you handle it, the tougher your biscuits are going to be,” she says.  

BESS’S BISCUITS

2 cups White Lily self-rising flour

1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening

 2/3 to 3/4 cups buttermilk

Spoon flour into measuring cup and level with a knife. Place flour into bowl. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the flour and blend in buttermilk with a fork until sticky but not soupy. Turn dough out onto a generously floured surface. Using floured hands, lightly press dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut using a 2-inch biscuit cutter or a glass that has been dipped in flour. Shake excess flour off biscuits and place, sides touching, on a baking sheet that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 500 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. If desired, take a stick of softened butter and run over the tops of hot biscuits before serving. Makes 12.