Southern buttermilk biscuits with their tender, flaky, layers of perfection are a true work of art. Not having a southern mama to teach me all the ins and outs of a treasured family biscuit recipe, I was a bit intimidated. I stuck to my recipe for baking powder drop biscuits until I found they were just a little too unrefined for my chicken and biscuits recipe. I began testing and here’s what I have for you today, a recipe that is easily replicated and produces flakey, tender biscuits every time.
Now, my love affair with southern cuisine began a long time ago. Not that I was really exposed to it growing up in Central New York, but television chefs and cookbooks sparked my interest as a teen. And in college…I chose two of the best foodie cities in America to receive my bachelor degree (shocking, I know). My choice in universities ultimately depended more on the city and food and less on the degree programs offered. Priorities, right? I knew I’d find a program of interest, and it would all work out. And it did. Not the way I thought it would, but perfect just the same. The two cities which still have my heart? New Orleans, LA, and Charleston, SC. If you’ve ever been, or are lucky enough to live in one of these cities you know what I’m talking about. The food! It’s exceptional! From small little roadside shacks to high-end dining, a memorable meal awaits around every corner. My advise if you’re visiting either city? Venture out, don’t limit yourself to the tourist traps, There’s so much to explore.
Even though I don’t recall eating buttermilk biscuits during my time in either city, just making them reminds me of my time in the south. Food, friends, and experiences that had a hand in how and what I cook today. So, not being able to base this recipe on a particular biscuit that I experienced in the south, I did my research. I found that most recipes contain a standard list of ingredients; flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, butter or shortening, and buttermilk. Ratios of leavening agents vary as does the flour of choice and whether to use butter or shortening. Although I prefer an all butter biscuit, a combination of butter and shortening make the dough easier to handle for those new to biscuit making. If you use all shortening, your biscuits will be lacking in flavor and texture, not a fan. Something I add to this standard formula is a bit of heavy cream. Not traditional. I know. Don’t hate me. I do this because it adds a little bit of richness without weighing down the biscuits. Often, low-fat buttermilk is the only option available at the grocery store, making the addition of cream even more appealing.
Once you’ve established the ingredients you’ll be working with, there are three important steps that must be followed for a successful biscuit. 1. Be sure your fats and liquids are cold. 2. Work dough with a gentle hand 3. Cut biscuits with a biscuit cutter, pressing straight down. Shaking cutter to loosen the biscuit will seal the dough on the sides and prevent them from rising to their full potential. The more you make biscuits, the more you will develop a feel for the dough and how to handle it. And once you experience a successful homemade biscuit, you’ll be making them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
Yields: 12 biscuits Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted, cold butter, cubed
- 2 tablespoons cold, non-hydrogenated, shortening
- 3/4 cup cold, buttermilk
- 1/4 cup cold, heavy cream
Preheat oven 450°
Ensure oven rack is in the center
Line a sheet pan with parchment (18×13)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir with a whisk to evenly distribute. Add the cold butter and shortening to the flour mixture and work into the flour by rubbing between your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal (work quickly at this point, you want to keep the butter and shortening cold). Mix buttermilk and heavy cream together in a liquid measuring cup and pour into the bowl with flour and shortening. I like to use a rubber spatula to gently bring the dough together. The dough will be very wet and sticky. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. With floured hands gently pat dough into a 1-inch rectangle. Now for the folding. I like to fold my rectangle as if I am folding a business letter, press out slightly and fold in thirds again, and then, one more time. You want about 6 folds. Now, press dough out into a 1-inch rectangle or round and cut out your biscuits with a 2-inch biscuit cutter. As I mentioned earlier, avoid shaking the biscuit cutter to loosen the biscuit from the dough. Shaking seals the edges and prevents them from rising to greatness. Simply press the biscuit cutter straight down and repeat the process with the rest of the dough. Gently roll scraps together and cut again. Place cut biscuits on the lined sheet pan. You may choose to allow biscuits to touch slightly or not to touch. Biscuits that touch have softer sides, while biscuits that do not touch have crisper sides. Bake for 15-20 minutes. They should be a nice golden brown when done. Remove to a cooling rack and watch them disappear! Don’t wait too long to serve, they’re at the peak of perfection while still hot!