Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Using a pastry blender or two table knives, cut the shortening into the flour until it resembles coarse meal. Use a fork to stir in the buttermilk to make a soft dough, or until the dough comes together and leaves the sides of the bowl. Continue stirring with the fork until all the flour is worked into the dough, then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead 3 or 4 times until smooth and manageable.
With your hands or floured rolling pin, flatten the dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Cut the dough with a 2 1/2-inch floured biscuit cutter. Place the biscuits in the cake round 1 inch apart for crisp biscuits or almost touching for softer biscuits. Bake until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes.
Cook's Note: If you cannot find self-rising flour, substitute 2 cups all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Recipe adapted from Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen by Trisha Yearwood (c) Clarkson Potter 2008
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