Growing up, mom’s buttermilk biscuits were a magical thing. She pulls them together without a recipe and without measuring – just eyeballing a recipe she’s made over and over again. When I make these at home, I hear her voice in my head, reminding me to avoid working the dough too much and ending up with the dreaded ‘wheel chocks,’ as Dad helpfully called them if they happened to come out unrisen and tough. Use a careful hand and you’ll be delighted. The result is definitely worth the effort – towering, flaky biscuits, every time. No wheel chocks here!
Yours in breakfast,
Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits
This recipe makes six to nine biscuits the thickness and width I prefer. You can roll the dough thinner and get an even dozen out, but who wants anything less than a three-inch tower of biscuit topped with butter and jam? Nobody I want to be friends with, that’s for sure. If we have friends over, I double this recipe.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and prepare a baking sheet with parchment, light oil, or a silicone mat (whichever is handy! I hate scrubbing pans, so I use a silicone mat).
In a medium bowl, combine the following and whisk with a fork or pastry cutter to incorporate:
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon table salt
Use a cheese grater to add in shreds of:
- 4-6 tablespoons of ice-cold butter (I always err on the side of a little more, this is what makes the flaky layers!)
Use a pastry cutter, a fork, or two knives to work the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is a little smaller than pea-sized. Make a well in the center and add:
- 1 1/3 cups of cold buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk, don’t despair! Use an equal volume of cold milk, and stir in a tablespoon of white or apple cider vinegar.
Using a spoon, mix the dry ingredients into the wet center of the bowl, moving your spoon from the outside down through the center. Do this just a few times, until the buttermilk is no longer a pool. At this point, it will look like a total mess in there, with what looks like a lot of dry flour and some lumps of wet dough, but do not despair. Take your clean hands and give the mess in the bowl a few folds, you’ll find that after 3-5 turns you’ll end up with a mostly incorporated dough and some dry and uncooperative bits at the bottom. Since you want only the most tender, light biscuits, stop there and abandon that last bit of dry flour as an offering to the cooking gods, and move your ball of dough to a clean counter dusted with a bit of flour.
Using your hands, push the dough out into a flat shape. If I’m feeling greedy and want ZERO scraps wasted, I push it into a rectangle and use a sharp knife to slice the dough into 9 rectangular biscuits. If you’re fussier, push it into a circle. Depending on how tight your dough is, you may be able to get away without using a rolling pin, but for perfect biscuits, press the dough out to an even 3/4 inch. Cut straight down (no twisty twisty!) with your biscuit cutter.
Square or round, your biscuits need to be snuggled up close, almost touching, to reach their full potential. Space them out about 1/2 inch apart on your baking sheet and slide them into the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned and the tops are firm and sound hollow when tapped with your fingernail. Remove, let cool a few minutes, and enjoy!