Preheat the oven to 475°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line with parchment.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
Work in the butter till the mixture is crumbly; some larger, pea-sized pieces of butter may remain intact.
Add the milk, stirring till everything is moistened.
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface (a silicone mat works well), and fold it over once or twice. Pat it into a ¾"-thick square, rectangle, or circle.
Cut the biscuits with a round or square cutter. Place them on the prepared baking sheet. Brush their tops with milk or melted butter, if desired.
Bake for 5 minutes, then turn off the oven. Leave in the oven for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, till they're golden brown.
Remove from the oven, and serve warm with butter and honey, jam, or gravy.
Yield: about 1 ½ dozen big (2 1/2") biscuits, or about 32 smaller (1 1/2") biscuits.
Tips from our Bakers
Shape biscuit dough ahead, freeze, and enjoy hot biscuits FAST. Simply place unbaked biscuits on a baking sheet, and freeze till solid. Wrap airtight in a bag. When ready to serve, preheat your oven to 475°F, and bake biscuits for 8 minutes. Turn the heat off, and leave in the oven for another 5 to 8 minutes, till they're golden brown.
How about some tasty variations? For cheese biscuits, toss 1 cup diced sharp cheddar cheese with the dry ingredients and butter, just before adding the milk. For chocolate chip biscuits, same deal: toss 1 cup chocolate chips with the flour/butter mixture just before adding the milk. Bake as directed at right. Chocolate chip biscuits may also be sprinkled with coarse white sparkling sugar just before baking.