A Week of Alton Brown Day 6: Buttermilk Biscuits

This is ridiculously exciting!
Almost as exciting as how easy it is to make your very own BUTTERMILK BISCUITS.  There was a time when James and I were indulging quite a bit in Pilsbury biscuits out of a can.  We hadn’t eaten them in a long time and it’s nostalgic – they’re so easy and it’s so fun to pop that can open violently with a knife.  (How is it that Mom could always do it so easily and gently by pressing in the exact right spot with a spoon?  The can suffers grave injustice at my hands.)But then one day we looked to see how biscuits were made from scratch.  And the recipe looked pretty easy.  So then we attempted it, and lo and behold, making them was relatively quick, didn’t require fancy hardware, and it was fun, too!  And homemade biscuits… oh my goodness… Pilsbury cannot compare.  (No disrespect to Pilsbury, they are still delicious but the texture is way way off.)

There are a lot of biscuit recipes out there and this one isn’t even Alton’s favorite, but it’s mine.  We make only very minor adjustments to make this perfect for us.  Someday, I promise, we’ll do a step-by-step version of this but for now you can watch Alton and his adorable Ma Mae go head-to-head baking biscuits.

Adorable video here!
You’ll see Alton is weighing his dry goods.  I don’t doubt that this makes a great baked good, but I’ve tried weighing and not weighing on the chocolate chip cookies from earlier this week and… I’m just not buying it.  It takes too long and stuff I make still tastes great.  Once I found out Alton’s own mother told him she wouldn’t read his cook book if he only weighed the ingredients, I felt justified in ignoring him. 😉

Recipe here!

Our few little changes:
1.  We use all butter instead of shortening and butter.  I’m pretty sure I still have the can of shortening that I bought for this recipe in my pantry.  There’s just no flavor in shortening!
2.  Cold fat is absolutely key for biscuits.  Make sure you don’t take the butter out of the fridge until you’re absolutely ready to use it.  I recommend cutting the butter into little cubes and throwing it in the flour.
3.  Biscuit-cutter not required (although I haven’t tried one, and it might be handy!)  I use a round cookie-cutter and, in a biscuit emergency, even used a glass that was roughly the right size to cut the biscuits.  Definitely harder that way, but it works.  James’ dad is still talking about the biscuits we made with the glass cutter, so I think it worked out.
Tomorrow – incredibly easy Overnight Slow-cooker Oatmeal that greets you ready-to-eat in the morning.
Oh right… AND ALTON!!!!

  1. Our favorite buttermilk biscuit recipe! Working with the dough is incredibly messy, but they are so yummy (pastry cutter really helps with mixing the dough). I use butter-flavored shortening, but that is messier than butter. Maybe next time I’ll try all butter. What I’ll do is cut the shortening and butter into little cubes, and then stick it back in the fridge while getting everything else ready. I tried cooling the bowl once, too, but all that does is cause condensation on the bowl, oops.

    I ended up with 2 sets of biscuit cutters, one of which has a huge (3″+) cutter. The young one likes to use that one to make huge monster biscuits.

    Not helpful for this recipe, but I discovered an invaluable use for measuring ingredients: brown sugar. Instead of worrying about whether you’ve packed it properly, just weigh it. I’m probably violating some Kitchen Rule by weighing one ingredient and measuring everything else, but it is so much easier

  2. Hahaha, I believe a much older person in my household would also love to try the monster biscuits… 🙂 Those would be great for breakfast sandwiches!

    I’d love to see you cut the dough with a pastry cutter – I’ve never tried. It’s all hands for me. Alton describes rubbing the flour and butter between your fingers as if you’re “rubbing a dog’s soft floppy ear between your fingers.” And I know that is the weirdest description ever, but that’s how I do it and it works really well! I like using my hands, the mixture is so soft, it’s therapeutic.

    Great tip about the brown sugar! I’ll try that next time. It’s hilarious that baking is such an exact science in some ways, yet measuring flour and brown sugar by hand can change the actual amount you’re using dramatically – and it never seems to affect my baked goods!

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