Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits

By |2018-08-16T11:45:28+00:00January 16th, 2015|Breakfast, Scones & Biscuits|24 Comments
Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits
Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits
Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits
Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits
Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits
Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits

I grew up on two kinds of biscuits, the kind that came from a box mix and the kind that came from a can.

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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!

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

fluffy-buttermilk-biscuits-02

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.

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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?

 

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There’s nothing better…

Once you’ve mastered making this biscuit dough…you can use it for other recipes like Buttermilk Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls!

buttermilk-biscuit-cinnamon-rolls

 

4.34 from 3 votes
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Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits

Servings 9 biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt see note
  • 2 Tablespoons salted or unsalted butter (cold and cut into cubes)
  • 2 Tablespoons shortening I use non-hydrogenated
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk
  • extra buttermilk for brushing tops

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Using a pastry blender or your finger tips, quickly cut shortening into flour mixture until combined.
  4. After you've cut in the shortening, cut cold butter into the flour mixture until you have various sizes no larger than peas. (See picture within post to see how this should look.) This should also take less than a minute. You want your butter to stay cold so work quickly.
  5. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the buttermilk.
  6. Working from the outside in, bring the flour into the center with a large spoon, scooping and turning bowl until the buttermilk is incorporated into the flour. Use a light hand here. We're not vigorously stirring, but simply gently tossing the flour together with the buttermilk until it's combined.
  7. Turn the wet sticky dough out onto a well floured surface. Keep a small pile of extra flour on hand to add to your surface or your hands as needed. You'll see in the video that I'm pretty liberal about using the flour in this step.
  8. Flour your hands and bring dough together, then lightly fold it in half in a gentle kneading motion.
  9. Do this about 10-11 times until your dough comes together and is beginning to feel smooth.
  10. Pat dough into a rectangle or square just under an inch thick.
  11. Using a floured knife or something long enough to make one cut across the dough, cut the dough into desired sizes. I usually make big biscuits and cut mine into 9 pieces.
  12. Turn biscuits upside down and place onto an ungreased baking sheet, close together but not touching.
  13. Brush tops with a little bit of buttermilk and bake until they have risen nice and tall and are golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes

*Biscuits can be stored overnight at room temperature, wrapped lightly in foil. Even though they are best the first day, they reheat nicely in a toaster oven.

*I use coarse kosher salt which ends up adding less salt for the same measurement because it is coarse. If you use table salt as well as salted butter, you may want to reduce the salt to 1/2 teaspoon. (Updated on 2/22/15)

*If you like your biscuits crusty on all sides, place them far enough apart on the baking sheet so that they don't touch another biscuit when they bake. They may also bake in less time, so keep an eye on them.

*If you prefer cutting your biscuits into shapes, roll or pat the dough and cut with a floured cutter. Push straight down with the cutter and do not twist to release it as you may seal the edges of the dough, making it more difficult for them to rise. Re-roll the scraps and cut again. (This is not my preferred method)

Recipe from Alton Brown's Southern Biscuits

The Merchant Baker © 2015

 

By |2018-08-16T11:45:28+00:00January 16th, 2015|Breakfast, Scones & Biscuits|24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Tasbih @ Cleobuttera January 17, 2015 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    I loved this post and one that I’ll sure come back to when attempting to make biscuits. The videos make it very clear; its hard to go wrong when you have such informative visuals. Keep up the amazing work! Pinned!

    • Ramona January 17, 2015 at 8:13 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the pin, Tasbih!

  2. Tim in TN March 20, 2015 at 7:25 am - Reply

    I have made these several times ( using Calumet, because that’s what I’ve got ). They always turn out great, huge puffy clouds of buttery goodness. I especially like not cutting rounds and either reworking or tossing the scraps. Thank you for sharing.

    • Ramona March 20, 2015 at 10:19 am - Reply

      It’s great to hear such good results from someone who clearly seems to be a fellow biscuit lover. Anyone who describes these biscuits as “great, huge, puffy clouds of buttery goodness” must love biscuits as much as I do!

      • Tim in TN October 9, 2016 at 8:20 pm - Reply

        Made these again. This is my go-to biscuit recipe. Thanks again for the rave reviews I get from family and friends.

        • Ramona October 10, 2016 at 1:57 pm - Reply

          Tim, I’m so happy to hear that this recipe is standing the test of time. I love it! I use the dough to make quick cinnamon rolls, I’ve made a pumpkin version. Just recently I made a sticky bun pumpkin version that was so good! I’ve added cheddar cheese and it’s swoon worthy and I’ve made a sour cream and onion version. You can do so many variations on this recipe! Check out the recipe index for some of these other faves. You’re clearly a master of making these, the other recipes will be a breeze for you! Thanks so much for coming back to share your ongoing “star biscuit” status with your family and friends :)

  3. […] of failures and hockey puck like biscuits, but I can make a perfect buttermilk biscuit thanks to themerchantbaker.  I have made these several times and they come out perfect each time.  They are so good my […]

  4. Sue January 8, 2016 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    Can the dough be made ahead of time, say the night before, refridgerated, then baked in the morning?

    • Ramona January 8, 2016 at 9:12 pm - Reply

      It’s not normally recommended to refrigerate this type of biscuit dough because you’re working with fast acting leaveners and you’ll lose some of that in the refrigerator. Instead, you could try freezing them. King Arthur Flour has a whole post on freezing (not refrigerating) biscuits for future baking. Check that link out for tips, especially their recommendation on the best way to bake a frozen biscuit.

  5. Buttermilk biscuits: plain and cinnamon – a maker journal February 2, 2016 at 11:10 am - Reply

    […] by the failed experiment. And a little overwhelmed with all of the options. My short list included buttermilk biscuits (including a cinnamon roll option), devil’s food cake, and yogurt […]

  6. Lois Grimes February 17, 2016 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    Thanks Ramona,
    These biscuits turned out wonderful!! Thanks for the tips! I will definitely order the King Arthur Baking Powder. I have been using King Arthur flour for some time. The biscuits came out fluffy and soft!

    • Ramona February 17, 2016 at 8:56 pm - Reply

      Lois, I’m so excited that you liked them! If you order the baking powder, I think you’ll definitely see a difference. I didn’t think it could be possible, but they are just not the same without it. I just wish I could easily buy it at the grocery store…because now I am spoiled!

  7. Vanessa Monteith July 31, 2016 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    Oh My Goodness!! Beautiful Puffs of Heavenly Goodness with a light texture describes these biscuits quite perfectly!! I saw your recipe on Pinterest this morning and had to make them for breakfast! Easy recipe to follow & YES, I AM A BUTTERY BISCUIT LOVER!! Haha, I wear that title proudly!
    Your recipe reminds me of my Grandmothers recipe & flavor.
    I will never make the box mix biscuits again. Thank you for sharing your recipe and most of all, going into the great detail about flour types and baking powder as well. That is great information to keep on hand!!

    • Ramona July 31, 2016 at 4:49 pm - Reply

      Vanessa, you are a doll for leaving such lovely feedback! Thank you! You’ve made my day!

  8. Lela October 17, 2016 at 8:45 am - Reply

    I don’t have buttermilk on hand. Can I use Palin milk?

    • Ramona October 17, 2016 at 11:11 am - Reply

      I wouldn’t substitute just plain milk. You can make a substitute for buttermilk by adding 1 Tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice into a measuring cup and then add milk until it measures 1 cup. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and then it’s ready to use. You could also use plain yogurt or sour cream and thin it down with plain milk until you have a thick liquid. Check out my sour cream and chive biscuits. I used 1 1/4 cups sour cream with 2 Tablespoons milk.

  9. Judith July 19, 2018 at 9:23 am - Reply

    My new favorite biscuit recipe!! Followed instructions…simply perfect results!

    • Ramona July 19, 2018 at 11:59 am - Reply

      Wonderful! Now you can make ALL kinds of things with this dough…like my Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls or Pumpkin Biscuits. Check out some of the related recipes in the recipes index under biscuits and scones and you’ll find some fun things to make. I use this dough for so many things!

  10. Jodi September 8, 2018 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    Where is the link to the video?

    • Ramona September 8, 2018 at 6:29 pm - Reply

      Hey Jodi, there isn’t just one slick produced video to watch. This post is from the early days of the blog, when I just took some quick videos to demonstrate some of the steps. You’ll find the videos I made for this recipe right there in the post. There are three photos that have the “play” button triangle in the middle of them. Just click the button on each of the photos and the video will play. Let me know if you have any questions!

  11. Kathleen R West September 18, 2018 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    I made these for dinner tonight (breakfast for dinner) and they (a) did not rise but did spread; (b) stuck to my stoneware pan; and, (c) did not brown. I followed the directions to the letter. Did not over-work the dough. My baking soda and baking powder are both new and dated on the Tupperware container in which each is stored. Flavor was fabulous, but won’t make for company or to take out to anyone. Anyone have any ideas on what I did wrong?

    • Ramona September 19, 2018 at 11:47 am - Reply

      Kathleen, biscuits can be tricky sometimes. I can think of three potential issues…First, the baking soda and baking powder help these biscuits to rise, but so does the butter. Folding the dough creates those layers. However, if you’re butter wasn’t still nice and cold (firm) then that could easily have caused the spreading. To combat that, start with cold butter. Then, if the butter has softened during the mixing/folding process, once you form the square you’re going to cut your biscuits from, wrap it up in plastic wrap and throw it in the freezer or the refrigerator until the butter firms back up. Then, cut and bake. Second, your oven temperature could be off. Trust me, 25 degrees can change how something bakes. Get an oven thermometer and check to see if you need to calibrate your oven. If the oven temp was too low, the butter would melt before it had time to help the biscuits rise. That would also be the culprit of not browning. These biscuits bake at a really high temperature. No matter what you did while mixing up the dough, they should have browned. So, I think your oven runs cool. Finally, the cool oven temp could also have contributed to the sticking issue. The oven wasn’t hot enough to form that bottom crust before the biscuit spread all over the place. In summary, make sure the butter is firm and cold when the biscuits go into the oven and make sure your oven temperature is really, truly at the hot temperature the recipe requires. I hope this helps and I hope you give the recipe another chance. Once you master this one, there’s so many wonderful things you can do with this dough!

  12. Alice November 9, 2018 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    O.M.G.
    I just did the biscuits using your recipe and they came out BEAUTIFUL and DELICIOUS! Super well risen, fluffly, moist, and just melting in the mouth
    It’s the 1st time I manage to do biscuits exactly how I like them. I had so many failed attempts with other recipes that I had almost gave up on baking biscuits.
    Thank you so much! I’ll always use that recipe from now on!

    • Ramona November 10, 2018 at 8:41 am - Reply

      You’re welcome Alice! Thank YOU for your enthusiastic endorsement of my favorite biscuits! If you’ve read the other comments, I always say this…once you’ve mastered this recipe, then you have a quick dough for all kinds of things! This dough makes the most delicious cinnamon rolls. It’s heavenly when you fold in shredded cheese like in these cheddar biscuits. Check out my recipe index and look under biscuits and scones; you’ll see other recipes that use this same recipe or a variation of it.

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