I grew up on two kinds of biscuits, the kind that came from a box mix and the kind that came from a can.
None were Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits, though we loved them just the same. We especially liked the ones from the can that had a million layers. My brothers and sisters and I would spread butter in between each layer and let it melt.
Then we would peel off each layer and eat them one at a time. Yeah, those were healthy good times ;) If our biscuits didn’t come from a can, then we’d get some fresh made drop biscuits from a box. Of course, they were simply just another vehicle for butter and we loved them as well.
Then a breakfast restaurant opened up in our neighborhood and I remember ordering my first, made from scratch, Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuit.
No layers, no can, no box…just a pillow of warm, fluffy goodness. Spread with a little butter and a drizzle of honey? I was in biscuit loving heaven!
Later, in high school, I got a job at a fast food restaurant. It doesn’t exist anymore, but it was fast food that was completely made fresh and from scratch, an idea hatched well before it’s time.
We scrubbed and fresh cut potatoes for fries, made each of the burger patties and cleaned chicken (ugh, that was a dreaded job.) We did everything, including making biscuits from scratch for breakfast.
I still remember the giant stainless steel bowl we would use to make them. The buttermilk was so ice cold, it was almost painful to mix up the dough, but those were some amazing biscuits.
Do I remember the recipe? No…I baked a lot back then, but I had not yet become a huge collector of recipes. I was a teenager, just living in the moment.
More than a few years ago, I decided to figure out how to make a perfect Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuit at home. I tried lots of different recipes to get a feel for how they would react. All butter, all shortening, cream? I researched processes and philosophies.
I tried all kinds of flour and different brands of baking powders. I finally found a recipe and figured out which ingredients and processes that gave me exactly what I was looking for in a perfect biscuit. Let’s start with flour because every detail matters.
We’re only going to talk about all purpose flour today. (The photo above is the flour after I’ve cut in the butter and shortening.) I have at least 5 different kinds of flour in my pantry at any point in time. I could go into a long discussion about protein levels in different flours or different qualities of the different brands, but instead I will tell you the brands that work well for me for this recipe.
I use Gold Medal or Pillsbury unbleached all purpose flour. When I’ve used King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill (two great flour manufacturers and some of my favorite flour brands,) I don’t get the same results.
King Arthur’s has a slightly higher protein percentage which I’ve always assumed to be the cause. I’ve even tried the famed White Lily, a softer lower protein flour, and didn’t get the results or taste that I wanted.
I use the other brands for other recipes, but for these biscuits, your basic all purpose flour from Gold Medal or Pillsbury will work the best.
I’ve also found that all baking powders are not created equal. In that research, I’ve found that none work better than King Arthur’s Bakewell Cream Baking Powder. I have to special order it from KAF, which is a pain, but now that I’ve made my biscuits with it, I can’t go back to another brand.
The difference is too significant for me. That being said, you really can make these biscuits with different flours and different baking powders and they will still be very good. But they never seem to reach the fluffy tender and delicious heights that they do when I use these particular ingredients.
I’ve had people make this recipe and not have it turn out “just like mine.” So, these are the tips that should insure your success. The recipe itself comes from Alton Brown. Some people swear by it, others have not had the best of luck.
I love it because it uses only 4 tablespoons of fat, less than many other recipes, yet creates the kind of biscuit that is perfect for me.
The process of making them is also important. I’ve always heard that you shouldn’t handle biscuits too much. But, you can also handle them too little. I was carefully mixing them up and kneading them only a few times, worried that I would end up with flat dense biscuits.
But, kneading them a little bit more, until I had a smoother dough, each turn creating more layers for the butter to fluff up? That was a good move.
I switched from kneading only 5 or 6 times to more like 10 or 11. Of course if you overdo it, you will develop too much gluten and end up with a tough biscuit.
I don’t use a biscuit cutter. Why? Because the first cutting of biscuits is the best. Taking scraps and re-rolling them always produces a biscuit that is not good as the first. Why settle for second best? I pick quality over shape and just do one cutting.
After cutting, there’s one more tip….flipping the biscuits upside down before baking ensures a more even rise. Then, I just brush with some buttermilk and bake.
Don’t let the long post or multiple videos dissuade you from making these biscuits. They’re super easy. Really. I taught my daughter and husband how to make them and they came out fantastic.
If they can do it, you most definitely can. It’s really a fast one bowl recipe. You’ll have them mixed up and on a pan in about 10 minutes or less, once you get the hang of it. Then, after about 15 minutes in the oven, you’ve got some ridiculously delicious hot and fluffy biscuits. With butter and honey?
There’s nothing better…
Once you’ve mastered making this biscuit dough…you can use it for other recipes like Buttermilk Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls!