Sundays have always been sacred to me. It’s a great day to rest the spirit, nurture the mind with The New York Times and feed the soul.
Perhaps it’s because when I was a child my grandmother would take me to New Braunfels to see her mother, my Oma. We would leave San Antonio around 8 am and, together, the three of us would cook Sunday dinner for the family. And cook we would. I always learned new things and just had so much fun in the kitchen with my family.
By the time we were done, the table was covered with food. Two meats, three or four vegetables, two starches (often times homemade noodles that I helped make) and plenty of desserts.
Sunday is still my favorite day of the week.
While we always eat breakfast on Sunday, it’s usually eggs or smoked salmon or, quite often, something that perhaps is a bit time consuming and definitely different—I mean, we can’t eat Cowgirl Granola every day.
For 15 years, I have been hearing about how much David loves biscuits. And he begged me to make them. But because they’re not that good for you (plus, what possibly can two people do with 12 biscuits anyway other than eat them? See the notes in the recipe** for a great idea that solves this problem), I never conceded–until earlier this year, when I finally caved in.
Since I had never made homemade biscuits, I started researching recipes. And I found this recipe by Dorie Greenspan, one of the nation’s most respected bakers, and gave it a try. What legendary biscuits they are…I made them for the first time on Sunday, March 29 (I write the date I make the dish on the recipe), and this is the third time.
These biscuits are flaky, fluffy, fabulous and unbelievably easy to prepare. They take about 15-20 minutes prep time and they bake in less than 20 minutes. So, go ahead and do something special for yourself and your family some Sunday. You’ll never be able to eat store bought, canned biscuits again.
My grandmother cooked everything from scratch, but when I was growing up, she relied on those flaky biscuits in the can. I thought they were sublime and when she made me homemade biscuits, the canned variety dropped to the bottom ranking in preference. These homemade biscuits taste like my grandmother's and that's quite a compliment.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sugar I use confectioner's sugar
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter quartered and cut into 24 pieces
- 3/4 cup cold buttermilk well shaken (you may need another splash or so of buttermilk) [Please buy organic buttermilk...as the regular stuff is full of unnatural things]
- 1 egg lightly beaten with a splash of milk or water (this is called an egg wash)
- Maldon salt
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, soda and sugar together in a bowl. (*If you are making herb biscuits, add the herbs in now.) Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces with flour. Quickly, working with your fingers, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You'll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces of every size in between - and that's just right.
Pour the buttermilk over the ingredients, grab a fork and toss and gently turn the ingredients until you've got a nice soft dough. Now reach into the bowl with your hands and give the dough a quick gently kneading - 3 or 4 turns should be just enough to bring everything together.
Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour and pat it out until it is 1/2-inch thick. Don't worry if it isn't completely even.
Use a knife or biscuit cutter to cut the dough into 12 pieces. Whatever dough you have leftover, just gather it together and cut it again as needed.
Transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet**. Optional: Lightly brush each biscuit with egg wash and sprinkle with just a few crystals of Maldon salt. (This will give them a golden, almost glossy color and a nice salty crunch that will go perfectly with butter and jelly.)
Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the biscuits are puffed and golden brown, about 14 to 18 minutes.
Serve immediately, with butter, Smart or Earth Balance, jelly, honey, bacon—you get the idea. Just please promise me that you won't use margarine...
The original recipe is an Herbed Buttermilk Biscuit, which you can make by adding 1 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, crushed between your fingers. Serve with a beef stew or something warm and hearty.
**Another note: If you do not want to bake all of the biscuits, you can easily freeze the remaining biscuits, unbaked. Put them on a lined baking sheet or plate, freeze them for a few hours and then pack them in a ziploc freezer bag, being careful to remove all of the air. The next time you want biscuits, just pull them from the freezer and pop them into a 425 degree oven. No defrosting time needed; just bake the biscuits a few minutes longer.
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