Flaky Leaf Lard Biscuits

Source: Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller, Fatted Calf

Recipe Type: | Seasons: ,

A flaky biscuit, lightly brown and crunchy on the outside, tender, airy, and moist inside, is the Holy Grail for bakers everywhere. Good biscuits are the culmination of using quality ingredients in the right proportions and good techniques. The techniques are fairly simple and easy to master: keep all of your ingredients well chilled, make sure your oven is quite hot, and don’t overwork the dough. As for the ingredients, you can’t go wrong with all-natural leaf lard that you’ve rendered yourself. Butter makes a good biscuit, too, but because butter begins to melt at a lower temperature than lard, any trace of water in the melting butter causes the dough to stick together, rather than separate into thin, distinct flaky layers.

Makes 14 to 16 biscuits (2½ inches/6 cm in diameter)


1 pound (450 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling and shaping the dough
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
6 ounces (170 g) chilled leaf lard, cubed
1 cup (240 ml) cold buttermilk
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


1.   Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Have ready a large ungreased baking sheet.
In a large, shallow bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for about 20 minutes.

2.   Using a pastry blender, cut the lard into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the flour-lard mixture, and pour the buttermilk into the well. Using a fork, gradually draw the flour-lard mixture into the buttermilk and mix gently with a fork just until incorporated.

3.   Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough gently, just until it holds together and begins to take shape. Pat the dough gingerly into a flat disk. Smooth any large cracks around the edges by pressing inward lightly. Roll out the dough an even ½ inch (12 mm) thick.

4.   Lightly flour a sharp-edged, round biscuit cutter about 2½ inches (6 cm) in diameter. Working from the outer edge of the dough toward the center, cut out as many biscuits as possible, pressing straight down and lifting straight up to make each cut. Lay the biscuits on the baking sheet, spacing them ¼ inch (6 mm) apart. (You can gather up any scraps, press them together gently, reroll the dough once, and cut out more biscuits; however, this second round of biscuits usually does not rise quite as fully as the first.)

5.   Brush the biscuit tops with the butter. Bake for 6 to 7 minutes, then rotate the pan from back to front and continue to bake for about 6 minutes longer, until lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and serve the hot biscuits immediately.

Reprinted with permission from In the Charcuterie by Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller, copyright © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Photography © 2013 by Alex Farnum.

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