Homemade Biscuits!!! Part 2: Buttermilk Biscuits and The Tang

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Part two in The Great Biscuit Discussion of 2013: The Buttermilk Biscuit.

What distinguishes the buttermilk biscuit from its cream counterpart is one huge thing: the buttermilk. Not only does it change the texture of the biscuit from flaky to a more spongy one (but in a good way), it also adds a nice subtle tang to the flavor.  These are fluffier and can soak up more liquids, so they're perfect for gravy or to serve with soups.

The mechanisms to make them are the same, except this time you're adding the buttermilk basically. I use butter again here for the flavor, but you can also use lard or shortening too. Just keep in mind they won't taste as buttery (and if using lard or shortening, reduce the amount to around 1/3 cup so they don't come out greasy!). You'll also notice here I make the biscuits by hand, without using a mixer of any kind. Why? I think they come out better with the texture -- I can control the mixing better by hand to make sure the dough is not over mixed, which would result in a gummy texture. This is a little bit more work but worth it in my opinion. Enjoy!

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits:
2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting the board
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
1 cup cold buttermilk

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and using a fork or pastry cutter, begin cutting the butter into the flour until you have little balls of butter the size of small peas coated in the flour. The mixture will look very grainy, like clumpy sand. Next, gradually add the buttermilk and mix it in to combine. You may want to switch up to a very sturdy spatula at this point or even wooden spoon to help you. Just gently mix the buttermilk in with the flour mixture until it all comes together into a dough and can hold shape.

Gather the dough up together into a heap and turn out on to a floured working surface. Sprinkle both sides of the dough with flour as well as your rolling pin, and begin rolling the dough out into a large rectangle, about 3/4" thick. Take your biscuit cutters and cut out your biscuits; transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You can gather and roll out the remaining dough for a few more biscuits, then discard the rest.

Take a kitchen towel and lightly cover the biscuits on the baking sheet. Let them stand at least 15 minutes, up to a half an hour. While they're standing, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. The biscuits will puff up a little while standing and in baking. Place in oven and bake until tops begin to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes (start checking them around 13 minutes). Remove and serve!

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