Here it is! The grand finale in my quest for the perfect buttermilk biscuit recipe. I have finally, through many trials and tests – three of which I wrote about here, here, and here, found the recipe that I will be passing down to my children and their children. That’s how much I love them (the biscuits and my children).
Here is my one disclaimer: If you like thin, crusty biscuits this recipe is not for you. I would say this is the major difference in people’s tastes in homemade biscuits. Some enjoy tall and fluffy, some thin and crusty. Personally, I wouldn’t turn away a quality homemade biscuit no matter what, but my preference is for the tall, fluffy and flaky ones. That’s what this recipe delivers.
First of all, I found by using unbleached all-purpose flour my biscuits rose higher and held together better. When bleached flour (White Lily) was used, it made a softer biscuit that was not quite as tall and fell apart easier. (My guess would be that using less fat with the bleached, low protein flour would give you a great thinner, crusty biscuit.)
Secondly, the type of ‘fat’ I ended up liking best was butter, after making shortening, butter/shortening, and all butter versions. The half-and-half version tasted good, too, and the shortening may add just a little more flakiness, but I think this really comes down to convenience and personal taste.
Finally, here are my conclusions about how to make the best biscuit possible:
- Sift the flour so the biscuit will be tender and rise as high as possible.
- Make sure the butter/shortening and buttermilk are very cold.
- Leave some larger pieces of butter/shortening along with the smaller pieces when cutting it into the flour.
- Make sure the dough isn’t too dry – it should be sticky before patting or rolling it out.
- Knead only enough to incorporate all the flour.
- Cut straight down with the biscuit cutter – don’t twist.
- Don’t skip the melted butter on the tops after baking.
So if you’ve been searching for a great biscuit recipe, you came to the right place. Don’t be afraid – once you make these a few times, you’ll be ready to churn them out like your grandmother.
Hot, Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits
makes about 10; can easily be doubled
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), shortening, or both, chilled
- 1 cup buttermilk plus a few tablespoons more if needed, chilled
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 485 degrees.
- Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl.
- Cut in the butter/shortening with a pastry blender or fork until it is in pieces the size of large and small peas.
- Stir in the buttermilk with a fork until the dough starts to come together. Using your hands, knead the dough inside the bowl to incorporate all the flour. The dough should be sticky; add more buttermilk if it is too dry.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and fold over itself 2 or 3 times to make layers.
- Roll out dough with a floured rolling pin or pat with hands to 3/4 inch thickness.
- Cut out rounds of dough with a 3 inch biscuit cutter (don’t twist!) and place on a baking sheet so they almost touch. Push the scraps together and cut once more, then place the last of the scraps on the pan.
- Bake for 9-12 minutes until golden brown, checking about halfway to rotate pan.
- Brush biscuit tops with melted butter right after removing from the oven. Serve hot.