buttermilk biscuits

There's just something about a good biscuit. Fresh from the oven, they're crisp, light, buttery, and incredibly comforting. We sold an incredible number of biscuits every day at the restaurant- I think once you try them you'll understand why.

To make the perfect biscuit is not challenging. There are three major mishaps that most commonly occur. 

1. Everything should be cold. Not just, I took it out of the fridge so it's chilled, I mean COLD. Put everything in the freezer before you make the biscuits. This allows the fat to stay in solid pockets, which creates flaky layers inside of your biscuits as they bake. Flaky layers= good. Tough, doughy biscuits= decidedly less good.

2. Don't overwork the dough. DON'T OVERWORK THE DOUGH! phew. When you add the buttermilk, it takes about 90 seconds, or about 30 turns of the spatula, until the dough is ready. You'll think it's too lose and sticky and clumpy. It isn't. Hang in there.

3. There are lots of applications for 'substitute' buttermilk, which you can make with regular milk in a pinch. This is not one of them. Pseudo-buttermilk just doesn't have the viscosity or the flavor that real buttermilk will bring to your biscuits. 

Here's how I make my buttermilk nuggets of deliciousness.

First, whisk together your dry ingredients in a large bowl. Metal is preferable, glass would work, but plastic will be ineffective. Once well combined, put your whole bowl in your freezer for about 30 minutes.

The bowl needs to be pretty large or you will make an enormous mess. Trust me on this one.

The bowl needs to be pretty large or you will make an enormous mess. Trust me on this one.

Cube the butter and pop THAT in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.

Measure out the buttermilk and...you guessed it. Freeze for 20-30 minutes.

biscuits 1.jpg

While your ingredients are meeting Jack Frost, you can prepare your pan. I like to cook my biscuits one of two ways: either on a sheet pan with parchment paper, or in well-greased muffin tins. The muffin tin cause a higher, roll-like biscuit with really crispy buttery edges, and the sheet pans make nice wide biscuits that are great for a small sandwich. 

So, this time I used a muffin tin. Grease it very well with softened butter. 

The other great thing about the muffin tin is that you can freeze the biscuits once they are finished (before baking) and pop them out and bake as needed. We would go through dozens of biscuits in a Sunday at the restaurant, so we made them the night before and froze them. You can take as many unbaked biscuits as you want (or the whole tray) straight from freezer to oven!

The other great thing about the muffin tin is that you can freeze the biscuits once they are finished (before baking) and pop them out and bake as needed. We would go through dozens of biscuits in a Sunday at the restaurant, so we made them the night before and froze them. You can take as many unbaked biscuits as you want (or the whole tray) straight from freezer to oven!

Once everything has gotten nice and cold, you can pull your flour mixture and your butter out of the freezer. Cut the butter in with a pastry cutter until it gets to about pea size. The mix will be very crumbly and floury at this point.

This is what your mix should look like after you cut the butter in with your pastry cutter, Look for the butter to be about pea-sized, and the mix should still be very dry and loose.

This is what your mix should look like after you cut the butter in with your pastry cutter, Look for the butter to be about pea-sized, and the mix should still be very dry and loose.

Now pull the buttermilk from the freezer. It's okay if it's a little frozen around the edges.

Add the buttermilk to the dry mix and stir for about 90 seconds with a spatula. Thie mixture will be very sticky, with some small flour pockets, big chunks of butter, and some wetter spots. This is normal. If your mixture becomes smooth and cohesive...you overmixed! Dang.

This is what your dough should look like. Very craggy and sticky. 

This is what your dough should look like. Very craggy and sticky. 

Now that your dough is ready, you're ready to make biscuits! Spread about 1/4 cup of flour on the counter in a small circle. Drop your biscuits by the 1/2 cup onto the floured area. Very gently roll each biscuit over once and then place gently on the prepared pan. This is a messy business.

Hello, little naked biscuit.

Hello, little naked biscuit.

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Keep doing this until all your biscuits are snug in their buttery homes.

Keep doing this until all your biscuits are snug in their buttery homes.

Now that your pan of biscuits is complete, you have two choices. Bake them now, to the delight of any and all small children, friends, family, and animals in residence, or freeze them, tightly covered with plastic wrap until you are ready to use them.

I don't need a dozen biscuits for breakfast, so I popped the pan in the freezer...except one, which I baked in my toaster. I'm not ashamed.

The bottom of your biscuit should be nice and golden brown.

The bottom of your biscuit should be nice and golden brown.

Get in my belly.

Get in my belly.

Congratulations! You are now a professional biscuit maker. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll sing a song...but your friends will just ask for these biscuits.

Recipe:

4 c. flour

2 T baking powder (yes, tablespoons!)

2 T sugar

2 t salt

1 t baking soda

8 T butter, cubed

3 c buttermilk

Flour for countertop

Butter to grease pan

Preheat your oven to 400.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, nd baking soda in a large metal mixing bowl. Place the bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes until well chilled.

Cube the butter and place in the freezer.

Measure out the buttermilk and place in the freezer.

Pull the dry mix out of the freezer and cut in the chilled butter with a pastry cutter until the butter is pea sized.

Add the chilled buttermilk and stir with a spatula until just combined. The batter should be VERY LUMPY AND COLD. Resist the urge to overmix it!

Flour a clean workspace and drop 1/2 cup of dough at a time on top. Very gently flour the dough into a ball. Drop each ball onto your greased sheet or muffin pan.

Freeze or bake immediately. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown all over. Top with honey, butter, jam, or some gosh dang sausage gravy.