Buttermilk Biscuits

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My mom was a great cook and nearly every meal she put on the table was made from scratch.  There were only a few shortcuts she took, usually in the interest of getting dinner on the table a little more quickly.

Oddly, I grew up eating biscuits made from a box of Bisquik.  They were all right.  They satisfied the need.  Pancakes and cobblers came from the same box, too.  I mean, how convenient is that?

It was from my grandmother that I learned the value of a handmade biscuit. She baked hers in one big piece in a cast iron skillet.  She perforated the giant biscuit before it went in the oven so it separated more easily when it came out.

She would probably have a fit if she saw me using a food processor to cut the butter in.  But, I think she’d approve if she could taste the final product.

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Maw Maw probably also wouldn’t understand why I usually use all butter instead of her original recipe that called for half butter and half shortening.  I have to admit, shortening does make a flakier biscuit.  But using a food processor and adding a little sugar makes up for not using “life shortening” Crisco.

She would probably also be amazed at the wonder of buttermilk powder.  She had cows to give her more milk than her family of 10 could drink.  So it stands to reason she had an abundance of sour milk to use up.

In today’s kitchen, a quart of buttermilk goes bad long before it’s ever used up.  But buttermilk powder can be found in any grocery store in the dry/canned milk section.  It keeps in the fridge at least ten times longer than fresh buttermilk and there is absolutely no difference in taste or texture!

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Enough reminiscing.  Let’s get to the recipe!

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 c. all purpose flour (unbleached is best)

1 tbs. baking powder (make sure it’s fresh!)

1/2 tsp. coarse salt

2 tsp. sugar

8 tbs. butter, frozen

1/2 c. buttermilk (or 2 tbs. buttermilk powder + 1/2 c. water or milk)

Some notes:

  • (See video for procedure.)
  • This recipe should yield 9 2.5″ biscuits, plus a little trimmings, if you roll your dough out to 1/2″. In the video, the cake mould I was using was 3″ diameter, so I only got 7 biscuits.
  • If using a small food processor, as I did in the video, you’ll need to do this in two batches. Or, you can mix by hand.
  • When mixing by hand, butter at refrigerator temperature will be easier to work with than frozen. Using your hands, you want to kind of massage the butter into the flour mixture.  You can also do this with a fork, pressing the tines through the butter into the flour mixture.
  • For even flakier biscuits, substitute half of the butter with vegetable shortening.
  • Add 1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar along with the butter for cheddar biscuits.
  • Increase the sugar by 1 tsp. and use these biscuits for strawberry shortcakes.
  • Double the liquid to make “drop” biscuits to go on top of a cobbler.
  • If you’re preparing ahead for the next morning, stop after you’ve cut the butter into the flour mixture.  Seal the mixture in a container and keep in the refrigerator until ready.  Then proceed in the morning with the liquid and rolling.
  • It’s important to bake all the biscuits at once.  As soon as the dough is prepared, the moisture will begin to act on the baking powder and you won’t get as much lift.
  • The humidity in the air will affect how much liquid is needed to make the dough come together as it did for me in the video.  On a humid day, down here in the South, I cut back on the liquid by about two teaspoons.
  • Some buttermilks are thicker than others.  You may find you need a tad more liquid when using buttermilk, or if you use milk instead of water with the buttermilk powder.

Let me know in the comments below how your batch came out!

If you happen to live in the Atlanta area, check out my other website to view my services.  I’d love to cook for you!

1 comment

  1. I agree with leaving out shortening but would lard be better than it? I will experiment with your recipe and see if it will produce the “flakiness” that shortening is noted for. Kudos for a great blog!

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