Dissolve yeast in warm water with 2 Tbsp. of the sugar. Set aside while mixing remaining sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the large bowl of a food processor. Add shortening, cut into pieces, and pulse on and off, scraping as needed, to incorporate. (Without a food processor, cut shortening into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender, two knives or your fingers until mixture is in fine particles.)
Add buttermilk and yeast and mix until mixture resembles yeast dough. Make biscuits or place dough in a covered bowl in refrigerator and use as needed.
To make biscuits: Roll out portions of dough on lightly floured surface until 1/2-inch thick. Cut with 2-inch biscuit cutter or the rim of a glass. Place biscuits on a greased cookie sheet. Brush tops with melted butter. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for an hour. (Some cooks skip the rising step and bake the biscuits immediately.)
Bake at 425 degrees 10-15 minutes or until brown. Makes about 2 1/2-3 dozen biscuits.
Notes from Mother: Do not double recipe. Food processor works great. Dry buttermilk is fine.
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