Many on the internet have tried to duplicate the Loveless biscuit recipe, and I tried some of their attempts, but they all came up flat. After much research and watching many youtube videos of Carol Faye in her various TV appearances, I determined that the Loveless Cafe biscuits had to be a specific variant of a Southern style biscuit called an "angel biscuit" which have yeast in them and Carol Faye always had to give time to rise. This type of biscuit was also called a "bridal biscuit" because it had 3 kinds of leavening in them yeast, baking soda, and Southern soft wheat self-rising flour - it gave new brides extra insurance that their biscuits would come out light and airy. I tried many recipes of this style biscuit, but the one that led me on the right track was out of the The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook which I really need to own someday. I tweaked it to make it more like the Loveless - the biscuits are smaller and saltier and are much taller than in the cookbook. From my research, it looks like Carol Faye uses oil instead of shortening, but I always have shortening on hand so that's what I use. At the Loveless, biscuits are cut small - Carol Faye said in an interview that she used to use a tomato paste can to cut out her biscuits, so I use a shotglass to cut out mine.
Use any size cutter you want, but make sure to pack them in your pan tightly and let them rise a long time, until they are doubled. I let mine rise for hours in an oven that I preheated to 250 F and then shut off. These biscuits are not quick to make, for sure! Howeverm the dough can be made a head and refrigerated for up to a week for even better flavor.
Loveless Cafe Style Biscuits
yield: about 80 small biscuits
1 (¼-ounce) packet active dry yeast
2 tablespoons lukewarm water (105º to 115ºf )
5 cups Southern soft-wheat self-rising flour*
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup buttermilk powder
2 cups water
Nonstick cooking spray
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, melted
* Note that Carol Faye used Martha White self rising flour, and so do I. Self rising flour is hard to find in Michigan, but Meijer carries it. There has been much written about the demise of White Lily flour since they closed the mill in Knoxville. So go with the Martha White!
Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water in a small bowl. Set aside until the yeast looks foamy. Stir together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Use your fingertips to cut in the shortening until the pieces are the size of peas. Stir the buttermilk powder and water into the dissolved yeast. Stir into the flour mixture using a fork, just until moistened. (at this point the dough can be refrigerated)
Lightly coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and set it aside. Knead the dough lightly, about six turns. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to a ½-inch thickness. Stamp out biscuits with a 1 1/2-inch cutter. (Don’t twist the cutter or the biscuits will rise taller on one side.) Gather, roll, and cut the scraps. Arrange the biscuits with sides touching on the prepared baking sheet - pack them in tightly. Cover with a damp lint-free towel. Let the biscuits rise in a warm place until they have doubled in bulk, at least 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 425ºf. Bake until the biscuits are lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. Brush the tops with the melted butter and serve hot.
Serve them like they do at the Loveless with jam or honey. Well worth the effort!