Make These, Because They Are…Crazy Good! Buttermilk Biscuits
By Anna Sachse
My girls, ages 2 and 4, go bonkers for biscuits—they refer to a barbecue restaurant we frequent as “biscuit place.” In the quest for that perfect light, buttery, flakey holy grail, I’ve made many versions of biscuits myself. After much trial and error, I’ve settled on a super-easy recipe adapted from Southern Living that my children say makes biscuits that are “even better than biscuit place!” Intrigued? Put a stick of butter in the freezer right now. Actually, throw in two, because once you make these biscuits you’ll want to make them again as soon as possible.
Fantastically Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits
Adapted from Southern Living. Watch their helpful how-to video.
Before You Get Started: The original recipe calls for self-rising flour, ideally White Lily, which Southern biscuit devotees swear by. White Lily contains only soft red winter wheat, which has less gluten-forming protein, yielding lighter, fluffier biscuits. It also contains the exact proportion of baking powder and salt you need, already mixed right in. But most of us busy working-parent types probably just have good ol’ all-purpose flour in our cupboard, so I went that route.
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour, measured correctly. (Pro Tip: To properly measure flour, first fluff or aerate it with a whisk or spoon. Next, spoon it from the bag into your cup, without tapping the sides of the cup or pushing the flour down, and then level it off with a butter knife.)
- 3¾ tsp baking powder (Pro Tip: baking powder loses its effectiveness over time, so confirm that your jar of powder hasn’t expired. Otherwise your biscuits might double as crumbly hockey pucks.)
- ½-1 tsp salt (to taste)
- 1-2 Tbs granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), frozen
- 1 cup chilled buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Box grater
- Rolling pin
- 2½-inch round cookie cutter (or a glass will do)
- parchment paper
- sheet pan
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar, and then whisk it all together until thoroughly combined.
- On a small, clean cutting board, grate the frozen butter using the large holes of a box grater—and work quickly to avoid melting. Place the butter in your bowl with the dry ingredients, doing your best to avoid touching the butter with your (warm) hands. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to quickly toss the grated butter with the dry ingredients until coated, and then chill the mixture in the freezer for 10 minutes. While you wait, you can line a sheet pan with parchment paper and prepare a large cutting board by lightly dusting it with flour.
- Remove the bowl from the freezer and make a well in the center of the mixture. Pour the buttermilk in the well and then stir 15 times—not more. The original recipe says the dough will be sticky, which may be the case if you use self-rising flour. Mine was not, but I didn’t stir it more. I simply did my best to get it in a lumpy mass with my last few stirs and didn’t stress about the crumbs.
- Turn the dough onto your floured cutting board. Sprinkle a little flour over the top of the dough, and then use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll it into a 3/4-inch–thick rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches). Take any extra dry or crumbly bits and gently push them into the sides or sprinkle them on top. Fold dough in half so short ends meet. Repeat the rolling and folding process 4 to 7 more times: This is what yields the luscious, pull-apart flakey layers. On your final round, roll the dough out to ½-inch thickness.
- Use your lightly floured round cutter or glass to cut out circles, doing your best to minimize scraps. Do not twist the cutter; just push it down and pull it up. (When you twist, you end up sealing the sides, which prevents the layers from rising to their maximum airy height.) Take whatever scraps you do have and push them together; don’t knead. Then roll and fold them as you did before until you can cut out more circles.
- Place each circle of dough on your prepared sheet, with the edges touching. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter. Serve as soon as you can, topped with jam or honey, sausage gravy, or scrambled eggs and a slice of cheddar cheese.