cup dried cranberries (if desired)
cups flour, plus extra for kneading
tsp double acting baking powder
tsp baking soda
cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into bits
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. If using the cranberries, place them in a small bowl and cover with boiling water for 5 minutes to soften. Drain the berries, pat dry and set aside. Meanwhile, into a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Sift these dry ingredients together 4 times; this will lighten the final dough. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal, then add the buttermilk and the prepared cranberries if using and stir the mixture gently until it form a sticky dough. With floured hands, transfer the dough to a well floured surface and knead it lightly 8 times. Pat out the dough to one-half inch thickness, and cut out the biscuits using a floured 2-inch round cutter. Arrange the biscuits upside down on a greased baking sheet so they just tough each other. Gather the scraps, pat out the dough and cut more rounds in the same manner until all the dough is used. Bake the biscuits in the middle of the oven until they are golden, 10-12 minutes.