Sunday, March 29, 2015

Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

Really good, flaky buttermilk biscuits have eluded me for a long time.  Oh, I've made perfectly fine biscuits, but without those flaky layers, I never felt like the recipe was a complete success.  Okay, I guess you could call me a perfectionist here, but a recipe does not make it into my permanent collection until it's exactly how I like it.  

I actually have a whole separate file of recipes labeled: "Recipes to tweak".  Worth keeping, but still need work.  I will admit, I have had numerous biscuit recipes just hanging out in that file, collecting dust, sad and lonely. 

But now, finally, after years of searching (I'm being literal here), I have finally discovered the secret to fluffy, hot, delicious biscuits with lovely, flaky layers.  The recipe is worthy of my recipe box and is now snugly living in the "Breads" section, making friends with the pancake and muffin recipes.

And now I share it with you.  And you can save yourself years of biscuit-recipe-searching agony.  You're welcome. 

The Step-by-Step 

Make the Dough

Set out about 3-4 Tablespoons butter to soften.  Preheat oven to 400F (200C)

First we get all the dry ingredients together and put them in a mixing bowl.  Mix them up all together.

Cut up 1/2 cup of the butter into chunks, add to the dry stuff.

Cut in the butter.  I like using my hands better than any actual tool/device/utensil.  I just grab handfuls to the mixture and rub between my fingers so the butter kind of gets flattened into the flour mixture.  It's okay if there is some butter pieces left, just not any real large chunks.  

Add the buttermilk.  Mix it on up.

It will be a sticky mess. Spoon it out onto a floured countertop and sprinkle more flour over the dough.

Roll, Cut and Bake

Pat out the dough, working in the flour until the surface is not sticky and the dough is about 3/4" 
(1.5 cm) thick.

Now here is the secret to the flaky layers of deliciousness.... Butter the dough.  The butter needs to be soft, otherwise there is no way in heck you'll be able to spread it on the soft dough. I like using the back of a spoon for this.  Get it all the way to the edges.

Now fold that dough into thirds.  Pat with your hands (or roll with a rolling pin if you like) until the dough is about the size it was when you buttered it.

Now butter it again, fold it in thirds again, and pat/roll it out again.

Third time's the charm -- so one more time:  butter, fold, roll out.

Now cut your biscuits (straight down -- don't twist!) and place in a pan -- 8 or 9 inch square pan or circular cake pan is just fine.  I usually use a 9 inch cake pan.

Line 'em up.

Bake 400F (200C) for about 20 minutes.

Definitely serve warm with honey. 

Or jam.   Savor those flaky layers and warm buttery goodness.

The Recipe


2 cups flour (plus extra for rolling out)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 3 Tablespoons softened butter (divided)
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven 400F (200C). 

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl.

Cut in the 1/2 cup butter.  (Cut into chunks and use pastry blender or your hands to blend the butter into the dry mixture).

Stir in the buttermilk.  Dough will be sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.  Work in enough flour so that the dough is no longer sticky.  Pat out or roll out to 3/4" thick.  

Use one Tablespoon of the softened butter and spread onto the surface of the biscuit dough.  Fold in thirds.  Roll out to original size.  Butter, fold in thirds and roll out two more times.

Cut with a biscuit cutter into circles and place into a baking pan.  Sides touching is okay.

Bake about 20 minutes on bottom rack until tops are a deep golden brown.