There are four tips for light tender biscuits: 1) sift the dry ingredients, 2) use a good shortening and enough to make them tender, 3) do not over work the dough by kneading and 4) bake in a very hot preheated oven.
Sift together flour, soda, baking powder, and salt. Sifting more than once will increase the height and tenderness of the biscuits. Cut in the shortening until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs, about the size of dried peas. Small pieces of shortening, when rolled flat in the dough, make the biscuits tender and flaky so that they will pull apart easily. Add buttermilk, while mixing, using a fork to toss from the sides and bottom toward the center, rather than stir the mixture. As the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, stop adding the buttermilk.
Turn lightly on to a floured board and gently knead the dough, about 10 times. This keeps the gluten in the flour from forming more than is desired. The gluten should be just activated rather than developed into long strands. Dust with flour as necessary to make the dough easier to handle and prevent sticking.
As soon as the dough can be rolled, pat, shape and roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, Cut the biscuits into the size desired. Continue rolling and cutting until all the dough is used.*
Arrange the cut biscuits in a greased pan with the sides of the biscuits just touching and bake at 450°F for 10 to 12 minutes until the tops are a golden brown.
* Note: The unbaked biscuits may be frozen at this point by placing them on waxed paper in the freezer and, after freezing, stored in a plastic bag.
This recipe may be doubled or tripled, but only use enough buttermilk the form a cohesive ball of dough. Tripled, this recipe makes 30, 2-1/2-inch biscuits.
To bake the frozen biscuits, DO NOT THAW. Arrange the frozen biscuits in a greased pan with the sides of the biscuits just touching and bake at 450°F for 10 to 12 minutes until the tops are a golden brown.