Bryson City Cathead Biscuits (original recipe)
Sift and mix dry ingredients then blend with lard. Add buttermilk. For each biscuit, pinch off a portion of dough about the shape of a large egg and pat out with your hands. Bake in a 350 degree oven in wood stove about 10 minutes. In a modern electric or gas stove, bake at 475 to 500 degrees.
This recipe is found on page 115 in the chapter entitled, "Biscuits," in the book Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread, and Scuppernong Wine, by Joseph E. Dabney (Cumberland House, Nashville, TN 1998).
I've made a few adjustments over the years, starting with the substitution of shortening for lard. I do not adjust the amount and have good results. I choose a quality unbleached all-purpose flour such as King Arthur or Hodgsons Mill Organic. Also, when I do not have buttermilk, I substitute 1 c. whole milk plus 1 tbsp. plain yogurt. The texture of the biscuits is fluffy and light, and they brown nicely in a hot oven - however, I've found that generally the temperature does not need to be more than 450.
Serve warm with jam, honey, or just good butter. This recipe is also suitable to use for dumplings.