Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Easy Buttermilk Biscuits

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits



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Fear Conquered: Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttermilk biscuits are time portals. One sniff, one bite and I'm back reliving warm summer evenings on Lake Erie with Boyfriend Javelin and a bucket of KFC extra-crispy chicken. Back when driving to the lake for a sunset picnic was the ultimate romantic mini-vacation. Just the two of us, just a sunset and just that bucket of chicken. And of course, that red box of the Colonel's biscuits.

Another bite, another taste and it's Saturday morning over brunch with friends at Bob Evans. Those tasty, fluffy buttermilk biscuits in a shared basket. Biscuits with friends, biscuits with family, biscuits with Boyfriend Javelin. Biscuits to celebrate new jobs, new baby arrivals, new significant others, new board games. Biscuits for the holidays. Biscuits for the bleary-eyed after a 12-hour flight from Hawaii.

Inside of Buttermilk Biscuit

Like I said. Time portals. And while KFC and Bob Evans' biscuits may be tasty transport to happy memories, they're also a frightening ride to transfats, preservatives, bleached flours, MSG and who knows what else. To kick the habit without losing my time-travel fix, I had to build my own buttermilk biscuit time portal. Made at home, made from scratch.

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

I took everything I knew about flaky pastry, everything I knew about butter, everything I knew about flour and started crafting. A gloriously towering biscuit to block out billboards for KFC and Bob Evans. A biscuit easier than drive-through takeout. Fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside, buttery beyond belief. It's a biscuit for cherished moments.

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits, Closeup

No kneading, no rolling pin. No baking experience required. Just dump, pulse, stir and pat. Bake for 10 minutes and nosh. See if these don't make you forget all about KFC and Bob Evans. And Pillsbury Grands. And definitely Bisquick. And pretty much every other easy biscuit you've ever had. Yeah. That kind of good.



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Photo Tutorial

12 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
Start with 3/4 cup (12 Tablespoons) very cold unsalted butter.

Butter Cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Dice the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and return to the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the other ingredients.

Flours in Food Processor Bowl
Add the cake flour and unbleached all purpose flour to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.

Measured Leaveners and Salt
Measure your baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt and granulated sugar and add to the flours in the food processor.

Dry Ingredients Combined in Food Processor
Pulse the dry ingredients 5 or 6 times to combine.

Cubed Butter Added to Food Processor
Add the cold cubed butter.

Butter Worked into Flour
Pulse the flour and butter 10-12 times until the butter has been broken into small pea-sized pieces within the flour.

Butter/Flour Mixtured Transferred to Bowl
Pour the flour/butter mixture into a medium sized bowl.

1 Cup Buttermilk
Add the cold, shaken buttermilk.

Buttermilk Added to Dry Ingredients
Fold the buttermilk into the flour/butter using a spatula.

Buttermilk Folded in to Make Lumpy Dough
The dough will slowly moisten and look very rough and crumbly. That's perfect.

Dough Transferred to Floured Surface
Dump the bits of dough onto a well-floured surface.

Ball of Biscuit Dough
Press the dough together and keep turning the dough until it forms a ball.

Biscuit Dough Flattened
Pat out the dough to roughly 1/2 inch thickness.

Dough Folded in Thirds
Fold the dough in thirds.

Dough Pressed Together
Gently pat out the dough to flatten.

Dough Folded in Thirds Again
Fold the dough in thirds again.

Dough Flattened for Cutting Biscuits
Gather the dough into a ball and pat out again to 1/2 inch thickness.

Cutting Out Buttermilk Biscuits
Cut out biscuits using a 2 inch diameter biscuit cutter.

Biscuits Read to be Baked
Transfer biscuits to a ungreased baking sheet.

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits
Bake biscuits for 10-12 minutes at 450F until golden.

Inside of Buttermilk Biscuit
Serve immediately.



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Easy Buttermilk Biscuits

    by Javelin Warrior
     Prep Time: 10 min
     Cook Time: 10-12 min
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Ingredients (8 biscuits)
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unbleached cake flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, very cold, cubed
  • 1 cup buttermilk, very cold and shaken

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450℉ and dice the cold butter into 1/2 inch cubes and return to the refrigerator to chill for at least 10 minutes
  2. Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade; pulse 5 or 6 times to combine
  3. Add the cold cubed butter to the food processor and pulse 10-12 times (depends on how cold the butter is and how fast it breaks into pea-sized pieces)
  4. Dump the flour/butter mixture into a medium sized bowl and add the cold buttermilk, folding together with a spatula until just mixed. The dough will be very lumpy and initially look too dry - thats ok
  5. Scrape the crumbly dough onto a well-floured surface and gather the bits of dough into a ball, pressing together. Keep turning the ball of loose bits and pressing with your fingers until the dough no longer crumbles apart. Do NOT knead
  6. Pat out the dough to approximately 1/2-inch thickness; fold the dough into thirds and pat out slightly, then fold into thirds again and gently shape into a ball of dough
  7. Re-flatten the dough to 1/2-inch thickness and use a 2-inch diameter biscuit cutter to cut out the biscuits, gathering the scraps of dough together and re-patting out the dough as needed
  8. Evenly space the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until the biscuit bottoms are crispy and browned; serve immediately
An original recipe by Javelin Warrior. © 2012 Javelin Warrior. All rights reserved.
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Hungry for Tips?
  • Cold Butter: Really cold butter is critical to light and fluffy biscuits because when the extreme heat of the oven hits the fat solids, it vaporizes the water in the solids to release steam, creating the fluffy interior structure.

    Butter Cut into 1/2 inch cubes
     
  • Cake Flour: Cake flour keeps these biscuits incredibly delicate, so if you don't have cake flour, I really suggest picking up a box for just such occasions. In a pinch, you can use all purpose flour: just remove 2 Tablespoons of flour per measured cup and add 2 Tablespoons of corn starch.

    Swans Down Cake Flour Box
     
  • No-Knead: Resist the urge to knead this dough; your warm hands will melt the butter and your loving kneads will activate the gluten in flour, destroying that fluffy biscuit structure. Press the dough together when necessary, but NEVER knead.
     
  • Folding: Why all the folding and re-patting out of the dough? It all comes down to fluffiness. For maximum fluff, you need layers of butter pressed between layers of dough (the laborious trick to puff pastry). In this case, folding the dough a few times creates a similar structure for the biscuits. When the heat of the oven hits all those layers of butter, the biscuits puff up beautifully. So if you skip the folds, you'll miss out on the fluff.

    Dough Folded in Thirds Again
     
  • Biscuit Cutter: Cutting the biscuits with a real biscuit cutter actually helps to create the fluffy layers as these bake. Why? I'm not quite sure. But it works. While you can use a makeshift biscuit cutter (like the rim of glass), your biscuits will not puff as grandly. So spend $5 at Walmart for a cheap set of biscuit cutters.

    2 Inch Biscuit Cutter
     
  • This dough may seem a little dry at first and later a little too wet - resist the urge to add more buttermilk or extra flour. Instead, keep the dough moving around on a generously floured surface and dough will quickly come together (and stick a bit to your fingers in the process).

  • Don't be afraid of the salt - I know it looks like a typo, but these biscuits need the salt. Besides, I use kosher salt which has a more delicate flavor than table salt.
     
  • Don't be afraid to let these biscuits develop a healthy tan while baking - the crispy bottoms are absolutely the best part.

    Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits
     
  • If you have leftover biscuits, let them cool completely before storing in airtight containers; to reheat the biscuits, place an ungreased baking sheet in the oven, then preheat oven to 450F; place the biscuits directly on the cookie sheet and bake for 4 minutes. The biscuits will be fluffy with crispy bottoms once more.



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12 comments:

  1. These look fantastic. I learned the hard way not to over-knead biscuit dough. My poor husband suffered through a LOT of failures. Nice job perfecting your recipe!

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  2. Thanks Mary - I must admit there were some batches of biscuits I made that ended up being crumbled into soup just to avoid having to stomach them ;)

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  3. hahahaha KFC biscuits are really the best but I can never finish my third! I like how this ones look and I never considered using cake flour, I will try them but I'll add something extra (:

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  4. I hope you enjoy, Betty - and I think the best recipes are the ones that keep acquiring new little extras :)

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  5. Oh, how yummy! It looks like you've mastered the biscuit recipe...using two fats, cake flour and not overworking! I'll try your recipe next time biscuits are on our menu~

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  6. I try to make myself feel better about all the fat by repeating "homemade" over and over again as fast as I can :) Hope you and your family enjoy!

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  7. These are perfect! I like using my food processor for making pie dough (you don't handle the dough too much) so it make sense to use them with biscuits, too!

    I love buttermilk in baked goods and I'm so glad you kept at it to turn out such a beautiful recipe! Thanks!

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  8. Ann, I'm so glad you like! And I do tend to obsess a bit over recipes - it doesn't always end in happiness ;)

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  9. Glad to see you "pat out the dough." I hate it when I see a recipe that calls for rolling out the dough. Not good for the biscuits AND it's just another item to clean up!

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  10. Jean, I'm a dough-boy: I love the feeling of a good dough under my fingers. And oh yeah, there is the whole cleanup thing ;)

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  11. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM,...Your buttermilk biscuits are so easy to make yet so divine!

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  12. Sophie, I hope you have a chance to make them and that they turn out for you :)

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