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Buttermilk Biscuits

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.

Course Bread
Cuisine American
Keyword biscuits, breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12 biscuits
Author The Cowgirl Gourmet adapted this recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours cookbook

Ingredients

  • 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]

Optional:

  • 1 egg lightly beaten with a splash of milk or water (this is called an egg wash)
  • Maldon salt

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.)
  7. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the biscuits are puffed and golden brown, about 14 to 18 minutes.
  8. 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...

Recipe Notes

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.