Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits
There's nothing like a little blizzard to make me want to get into the kitchen and do some baking. After I posted a pic of my biscuits on Instagram today, you folks asked for the recipe — and I heard ya! I've written out as much detail as I can, but nothing takes the place of practice.
Biscuits are all about feel: how good they make you feel when you inhale one warm right out of the oven and how you need to get a feel for the dough to perfect them. To cut the shortening and butter into the flour, you should use your fingers. I add the fats separately, because you want to mash the shortening in to evenly distribute through the flour. The shortening makes the dough tender throughout and the butter creates the flaky layers. Once you add the buttermilk, you have to work the dough gently so that it doesn’t get tough.
If you follow those steps, your first batch of biscuits will be great. If you keep making biscuits, you’ll start to master the motions and the dough and they’ll get better each time. I can’t imagine this will be a one-time project for anyone.
Makes about 8 (2-inch round) biscuits
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons (½ stick) cold unsalted butter
¾ cups cold cultured buttermilk
Spray a sheet pan lightly with nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 450°F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Add the shortening and use your fingertips to pinch it completely into the flour mixture.
Using a box grater, grate the cold butter into the flour. Toss until all of the pieces are coated.
Lightly coat your work surface with nonstick cooking spray, then flour. (The spray keeps the flour in place.) Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture. Gently mix the dough with a rubber spatula until there are no dry bits of flour left. The dough should be slightly sticky.
Transfer dough to the prepared work surface. Lightly coat your hands with flour and gently press the dough with the heels of your hands to form it into a smooth flat rectangle, 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle the dough with flour, then fold it into thirds (like a letter). Press the dough out again, sprinkle with a little flour, and fold it into thirds again. This time folding in the open ends first. Repeat one more time. Dough should no longer be sticky.
With a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out dough rounds. Flip the rounds over so that the smooth sides that were against the work surface face up and place on the prepared pan, 1-inch apart. Stack the scraps and press and cut again. Refrigerate until cold, about 15 minutes.
Bake until the tops are golden brown and crisp, about 16 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving hot.
Variation: I made cinnamon-raisin biscuits too -- just add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (add it to your dry flour blend) and then a 1/2 cup of golden raisins that have been soaked in hot water for 10 minutes.
Want more biscuit recipes? I've got plenty!
Zagat video: How to make biscuits with Carla Hall