Buttermilk Biscuits, revisited

Since I first wrote about biscuits last September, I have been working on my technique and the recipe. I wasn’t particularly happy with the result that I posted about – the biscuits were too dry, didn’t rise enough, and generally didn’t taste as good as I though they should have. So, after literally dozens of iterations, I think I’ve stumbled upon my coup-de-grace.

The main difference: removing the baking soda, adding more butter, changing the mixing technique, and changing the baking time and temperature. Pretty much a complete rewrite of the recipe. These new biscuits have a soft crumb, crispy (not burnt) edges, and a scrumptious taste. Check this out:

Check out that crumb.Okay, so first the technique; then the ingredients; then the recipe.

Basically you want to mix these ingredients by hand. Using a machine stresses the dough too much, resulting in a tough, dense biscuit. Also, the butter better be cold. I don’t think you need frozen butter, but definitely butter fresh from the ‘fridge.Use a dough blender or two forks to cut the butter into the flour. Scott Cutaneo has a video (about pie crust) that shows a great technique for cutting butter into flour. Regarding temperature: you can do these biscuits in about 10 minutes if you cook them at 450F, but you will burn them. It’s much better to cook them at 375F for about 20 minutes, maybe 25. One more pro tip: if you want your biscuits to rise high, put them on the pan so that they touch eachother. I like to cook them on a nonstick cookie sheet with a bit of parchment paper. I put all of the biscuits in a circle, touching.

A few more things: the buttermilk volume. I specify 1 cup, but you may need more or less depending upon your flour. Start with one cup and add more if your dough is not a sticky wet mess.

Regarding kneading: make sure you have a generously floured work surface. Dump the dough out onto the work surface and work the flour from the work surface into the dough. You should have a workable dough by the time you are doing this; it should not be too sticky.

Regarding cutting out the biscuits: you want the dough to be about 1/2″ thick. That will yield about 10 “Ikea kids cup”-sized biscuits that are a respectable height upon baking.

Ok, now for the ingredients:

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour, not self-rising flour or cake flour.
  • 7 tablespoons of butter. You could use a whole stick if you like.
  • 1 tsp (teaspoon) of salt.
  • 1 tsp baking powder.
  • 1 cup of buttermilk.

And now the recipe:

  1. In a mixing bowl, dump the 2 cups of flour.
  2. Add the butter; remember it must be cold and from this point forward you must work quickly.
  3. Using the forks method (check the video above) or the dough blender, cut the butter into the flour.
  4. Add the salt and baking powder.
  5. Mix well. I like a wooden spoon for mixing.
  6. Add the buttermilk and mix.
  7. Dump the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead it a few times.
  8. Cut the biscuits using your favorite biscuit cutter. I like an Ikea kids cup for this.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375F.
  10. Enjoy!

We enjoy these biscuits with margarine or butter and honey; also jam. I also have a great recipe for sausage gravy that makes these biscuits disappear. Quickly.

Write me back and let me know how yours work out!