Buttermilk Biscuits – the sexy side of Buttermilk

I want you to try that Buttermilk-Brined chicken so badly (fan of the blog Rudy Basso already has, to much success!) Therefore, I’ve decided to continue the buttermilk love by including a few more recipes to make good use of that extra buttermilk you’ll have in your fridge.  I had the perfect opportunity to make Alton’s buttermilk biscuits at a brunch birthday party for James’ Dad this weekend (Happy Birthday again, Lou!), that I decided to go ahead and share the step-by-step process.

I do believe that biscuits are the best looking baked-good.  You can have your perfectly decorated cupcakes and marbled cakes, just leave the biscuits to me.  I mean – just look at this glamour shot:

20140525_085159

How can you resist?

Biscuits seem incredibly intimidating.  A well-known culinary delight in the south, the flaky layers and light but rich texture seem like they must take hours and some secret ritual only southern grandmas know.  However, from start to finish, the process takes about an hour – including clean-up!  (There’s plenty of time to clean your dishes while the biscuits bake, which is a major encouragement.)

Once we had tried them at home, we decided to whip them up for James’ parents when we stayed with them last year.  Always the most enthusiastic audience for our cooking, James’ Dad told people about those biscuits for weeks.  The only thing more encouraging than an easy recipe and delicious product to show for it is a boost to your ego.

I hope you will take these on at home and impress your friends and loved ones.  Having never made any kind of complicated pastry before, James is now the biscuit whisperer.  We know you can be, too!

Buttermilk Biscuits

Adapted very slightly from Alton Brown’s Southern Biscuits recipe found here

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder (this is more than you think – make sure you have enough!)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter (cut into cubes and kept as cold as possible)
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk

The Process:

1.  Preheat the oven to 450ºF.

2.  Measure out the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk together to aerate (whisking takes place of sifting here, but you can sift if you like.)IMG_2624

3.  Incorporate the cold butter into the flour.  My method is by hand: coat all of the cubes of butter in the flour and then rub the flour mixture and butter together with your fingers.  You want only a few large chunks to remain.  Here’s how I do it:IMG_2626 IMG_2628

4.  Make a well in the middle of the flour/butter mixture and pour in your cup of buttermilk.IMG_2647

5.  Stir until the dough comes together. IMG_2657

6. Flour a cutting board or some wax paper/parchment paper on the counter and turn out your dough onto the floured surface.IMG_2661 IMG_2667

IMG_2680
This is about how much flour you should use in between folds – a little goes a long way.

7.  Using your hands, shape the dough into a square/rectangle and fold the dough onto itself 3-4 times.  Each time you fold and reshape, make sure to FLOUR the top of the dough before folding again.  This step is very important – and the first time I totally forgot.  I had to knead the dough again, adding the extra flour each time so they weren’t too sticky.  Even with this mistake, the biscuits still came out great.  PHEW!IMG_2669

UPDATED video with the correct technique:

8.  Once you’ve kneaded the dough, pat it down so that it measures about 1″ high.IMG_2690

9.  Use your cookie-cutter/biscuit-cutter/glass (we use one sized 2-3″ usually) to cut out the biscuit shapes.  You may need to do this two or three times.  By the third time, I could only cut out one biscuit and just molded the last one the best I could.IMG_2697 IMG_2704 IMG_2710 IMG_2712

10. Arrange your biscuits on a pan for they are touching each other – but not the sides of the pan.IMG_2722

11.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes (mine only took 15), until they are lightly golden.20140525_084930

12. If you can, eat them while they’re fresh out of the oven – AMAZING.  If not, as soon as they’re cool enough to touch, wrap them in a cloth napkin or dish towel to keep them warm and moist until serving time. 20140525_085138

13.  Be lauded as a baking prodigy, earn the envy of your friends and neighbors – enjoy it, you’ve earned it.

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10 thoughts on “Buttermilk Biscuits – the sexy side of Buttermilk”

  1. Biscuits!! With 2 cups of buttermilk left (after having made the buttermilk chicken with a side of buttermilk cornbread), I just had to make a double batch of biscuits. Which, unfortunately, meant I didn’t have enough butter to follow your adaptation. What do you find the difference to be between all butter and half butter/half shortening? I did use butter-flavored shortening; does that count? 🙂

    I made a veritable army of biscuits that are now in the freezer. So, whenever the mood strikes, in 15 minutes we can be enjoying buttermilk biscuits with no effort. Yummmm.

    1. That’s a great tip, Carole! I haven’t tried freezing them before… they never seem to last that long! Do you notice a difference in texture when you defrost them?

      The difference between all butter and butter + shortening is flavor – we didn’t notice a difference in consistency, although I would be surprised if there wasn’t one. When I made them with shortening, they just seemed to be missing something – all butter fixed that! I would love to try them with lard sometime. Alton has another recipe in his book “I’m Just Here For More Food”, where he uses leaf lard and yogurt – but that recipe looks more complicated. 😉 I’d like to say that someday I’d try it, but this recipe is so easy – why mess with perfection? 🙂

      So, to answer your question, since the only difference is flavor in my opinion, if that shortening really tastes like butter, I’d say that counts!

      1. I freeze them before baking. So you have to go into the making of the dough knowing you won’t get to eat them soon. We had them for breakfast this morning, and they were very good. Perhaps a little underbaked, and not as flakey as normal, but that is just being nitpicky. I covered the cutout biscuits with plastic wrap (on the cutting board) and put them in the freezer until they set. Which, since I made them at night, was overnight. Then I put them all in storage bags. To bake, I preheated the oven to 475 and then baked them for 5 minutes at 475. After 5 minutes, I turned the oven down to 425 and baked for another 10 minutes. They possibly could have gone for another 1-2 minutes.

        On the butter/shortening discussion, butter is soooo much easier to cut up into cubes. Shortening (since I never remember to chill it before making biscuits) is much messier. So doing an all-butter batch would be more pleasant, definitely.

  2. If you’re like me, you see biscuits and say to yourself, “oh, that’s cool.” But that was my first mistake because…

    YOU DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE BONNIE’S BISCUITS.

    BONNIE’S BISCUITS AND JERK CHICKEN ARE LIKE A COMBO BREAKER ROUNDHOUSE KICK STRAIGHT UP IN YOUR MOUTH PARTS.

    BONNIE’S BISCUITS HAVE AN ENTIRE MASTERS CLASS DEVOTED TO THEM AT HARVARD AND MIT.

    TIM HOWARD ATE A PLATE OF BONNIE’S BISCUITS RIGHT BEFORE THE WORLD CUP GAME AGAINST BELGIUM.

    In closing, we greatly enjoyed these biscuits and would recommend them. Thanks B!

    1. Yes!! I love you Matt Laster (and Anchi and Sweet Baby E, who I know contributed to this comment in spirit!) So glad you enjoyed!! I hope you at least got ONE meal out of them! 😉

  3. This is the gift that keeps on giving. My wife, Camille, is again making Bonnie’s biscuits. I enjoy them more each time.
    Lou the birthday boy.

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