If you read the book, you will love the description of gruff Deputy U.S. Marshall Arliss Cutter teaching his young nephews how to make his Grandpa Cutter's biscuits. I am quoting the entire recipe from Marc Cameron's Alaska novel, Stone Cross.
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tbl. sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 sticks of butter, frozen (16 tbl.)
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with a light spray of oil or cover with parchment.
In a bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda.
Grate the two sticks of butter and add to the dry ingredient mixture.
Gently combine until the butter particles are coated.
Next add the buttermilk and briefly fold it in.
Transfer this dough to a floured spot for rolling and folding.
Shape the dough into a square then roll it out into a larger rectangle. Fold by hand into thirds using a bench scraper. Press the dough to seal it. Use the bench scraper to help shape the dough into flat edges. Turn it 90 degrees and repeat the process of rolling it out into a bigger rectangle and shaping it again. Repeat this process for a total of five times. The dough will become smoother as you go.
After the last fold, and if time allows, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Otherwise, cut the remaining dough into  squares and place one inch apart on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with melted butter.
Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20 to 24 minutes. Let cool on a rack before serving--if you can wait that long.
Tips to remember:
- A buttermilk substitute can be made by adding one teaspoon vinegar to one and a half cups regular milk and letting it stand for a few minutes.
- Handle the dough lightly--don't overwork it.
- Freeze the butter. It make it easier to grate and distribute it throughout the dough.
- For the very best results, your bowl and other utensils should be cold.
- Rolling and folding the dough five times produces the flaky layers--again, don't get too heavy handed.
- Shaping the dough into a square and cutting it into squares avoids waste and rerolling (and overworking) the scraps.
- If time allows, let the dough rest for 30 minutes wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge before you cut into squares. This helps them rise tall in the oven without slumping or sliding.