I grew up eating biscuits from a tube. And it was fine. But I remember how much of a treat it was on special occasions to get a biscuit at a restaurant. They were so tall, and light, and fabulous.
Now I make my own. Thirty minutes from idea to table.
And you can too.
I’m going to include a bunch of pictures on this one so you can see exactly how these come together.
Remember this above all else: biscuits take practice. Even if your first batch comes together great, you will have some that fail. And by fail I mean they’re not quite as good, or quite as pretty, but still good enough to eat. So no worries, agreed?
Practice. The more you make them, the easier it gets.
First things first before you do anything else. Grab a stick of unsalted butter, slice it into pats, and stick in the freezer along with the half-pint (1 cup) of buttermilk. They should stay there about 10 minutes so they’re very cold.
Preheat the oven to 425°.
In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: 2 cups of flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until it is the size of small peas. This takes 4 or 5 minutes.
It should roughly look like this when you’re done.
Add the buttermilk and stir.
Press it into itself until it comes together as a more-or-less ball of dough. It will be a bit crumbly and shaggy. That’s okay.
Turn it out onto a lightly-floured surface, form it into a ball, and press it down into a rectangle-ish shape about half-an-inch to an inch thick — it doesn’t have to be exact.
(See the little pieces of butter in there? You’re trying to get those into the oven while they’re still cold so they can gradually release some steam and help the biscuits rise.)
Now we’ll fold the sides in — see the next two pictures — so that we have three layers of dough and butter.
Don’t worry if it’s still shaggy-looking.
Turn the dough 90° (1/4 turn) and do the press and fold thing again.
Turn it again and press and fold again.
That’s three times total, right?
It should look about like this now. (I sometimes use my rolling pin for the last step but you don’t have to.)
The hard part’s done!
I use a three inch biscuit cutter next. Remember, press straight down with the cutter, not twist and turn, so you don’t have edges that are all smushed together.
Transfer to a good non-stick cookie sheet or a parchment-lined baking sheet. You should get between eight and ten biscuits depending on how thick yours are and how big a biscuit cutter you’re using. The key is to make them as close to the same as possible so they cook evenly.
You will have to gather the scraps and roll out a second (and maybe a third) cutting. No worries, just try to work the dough as little as you can.
Unless you were ruthless about it, there’s enough buttermilk left in the half-pint carton to dribble across the tops of the biscuits and paint the tops with your finger or a pastry brush. I also put a slight indent in the center of each biscuit to help them rise more evenly.
If you’d rather melt a little butter instead of buttermilk then go for it.
(See the odd one in the back? That was the last of the scraps pressed into a somewhat-biscuit-shaped ball of dough. I would never throw away extra dough! This is known as the chef’s quality control group biscuit. Which means you get to eat it while it’s still too hot and before anyone in the house knows they’re done. You know, to make sure they’re good.)
A lot of people think making homemade biscuits is hard when, in reality, it's just a matter of some practice. And the taste? Your family and friends will think you're a wizard.
- 2 cups + a little all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 8 tablespoons butter Good butter does make a difference.
- 1 cup buttermilk
Slice the butter into pats and, along with the buttermilk, put in freezer for about 10 minutes.
Sift together 2 cups of flour, the baking powder, salt, and baking soda. If you don't have a sifter, just whisk it very well in the bowl.
Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it's reduced to pea-sized pieces. This takes about 4-5 minutes.
Stir in all but a tablespoon of the buttermilk until the dough comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface. Bring it together into a ball. Press it into a rectangle.
Fold the dough twice on itself to help form layers.
Turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat the press and fold.
One more time so you've done the press and fold three times.
Cut the biscuits and arrange on a non-stick cookie sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Paint the tops of the biscuits with the little bit of leftover buttermilk.
Bake for 15 minutes at 425°.
Let them cool a few minutes. (Yeah, right, that's gonna happen.)
It seems everyone has their own family biscuit recipe handed down. And they are all almost the same … but not exactly. See, that’s the fun part, putting your own little spin on it.
Hmm, we should make some sausage gravy.
Now, go make some biscuits and let me know how it goes!