Biscuits have charm and personality. They’re like the friend you always want to be around because they make you feel happy and cheerful.
While it may not be scientifically proven, those of us who spend time around biscuits, making them and serving them, know that they have special powers.
A hot buttermilk biscuit, covered in gravy, syrup, jelly or dripping in butter, is just about as good as food gets.
The proper biscuit making technique was a mystery to me. Figuring out the components was easy : flour, leavening, fat and liquid. But the ratio and handling of the ingredients was something I had a hard time perfecting.
I was over-thinking it.
The truth of the matter is that good biscuits are one of the easiest things in this world to make. True of authentic Southern cuisine, it’s simple. Simple ingredients and simple cooking instructions.
My head kept getting in the way of biscuit making perfection. Not actually my head, but my brain. I was trying to make the task hard so over and over and over again, my biscuits failed.
As a young child, I watched Granny pull out her biscuit bowl that stayed full of flour. She added all the necessary ingredients without measuring a single thing.
When she poured in buttermilk, I asked, “How do you know how much buttermilk you need?”
“Shug, ya just keep pourin’ it in, a tad at the time, and workin’ around ya dough ’till it looks jest right” , she replied.
Through lots of study and practice, I’ve demystified biscuit making. The first step, was to figure out what “jest right” dough looked like.
I’m more than happy to share my years of exhaustive research with you. This is all you need to know about making biscuits:
- Use a soft-wheat flour such as White Lily. I prefer to use self-rising. All-purpose can be used with the appropriate amount of leavening sifted together with the flour.
- Solid shortening may used instead of butter, however, butter adds flavor to the biscuits making it my fat of choice.
- Make sure the butter is good and cold before using. Cut it in small cubes and put it back into the refrigerator before using.
- Always, always, always use buttermilk when you can. Nothing substitutes for the flavor that buttermilk gives biscuits. If you’re in a pinch, add a tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of milk.
- Don’t over handle the dough. Get in there, work it, and get out as quickly as possible. Pour in liquid just until all the flour is well incorporated. The dough should be sticky.
- Biscuits should be baked in a very hot oven. Some folks like to bake their biscuits as high as 500 degrees. My oven bakes them just right at 425 or 450 degrees.
- For biscuits with the flaky layers that you get from canned biscuits, fold the dough into three layers before cutting.
- Place biscuits in the skillet or baking sheet with sides touching for soft biscuit sides. Place them apart for crisper sides.
- Brush the tops with oil or melted butter for a golden brown color.
I wish you many years of happy biscuit making.
Y’all come see us!
High-rise Buttermilk Butter Biscuits
yield: 12 (2 inch) biscuits
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
2 cups self-rising flour (I used White Lily)
1 cup buttermilk
Work butter into flour, either by hand or with a pastry cutter, until it resembles coarse meal. Add in buttermilk and mix until combined.
Turn dough out on to flour covered surface. Sprinkle top with flour and knead 5 or 6 times. Sprinkle with more flour as needed until dough is no longer sticky.
Roll out to 1/4 inch thick.
Fold dough in thirds, lengthwise, making sure the width is at least 2 inches. Fold in half from top to bottom. Gently press the layers together.
Cut biscuits with 2 inch biscuit cutter.
Place in a seasoned cast iron skillet or on a greased baking pan. Press down slightly with backs of fingers.
Brush tops with oil or melted butter.
Bake at 425 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until tops are browned.
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- 1/2 cup one stick unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- 2 cups self-rising flour I used White Lily
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Turn dough out on to flour covered surface. Sprinkle top with flour and knead 5 or 6 times. Sprinkle with more flour as needed until dough is no longer sticky.
- Roll out to 1/4 inch thick.
- Fold dough in thirds, lengthwise, making sure the width is at least 2 inches. Fold in half from top to bottom. Gently press the layers together.
- Cut biscuits with 2 inch biscuit cutter.
- Place in a seasoned cast iron skillet or on a greased baking pan. Press down slightly with backs of fingers.
- Brush tops with oil.
- Bake at 425 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until tops are browned.