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May 06, 2009
There's something so very, very satisfying about making biscuits. You don't need fancy equipment (although there are few things that are fun to have), you don't need to set aside a big chunk of time and you don't even need to bake them as soon as you make them: once you cut the biscuits, you can freeze them and bake them whenever you want, no defrosting necessary.
I love this kind of convenience almost as much as I love feeling like a genius because I can have something fresh-from-the-oven on the spur of the moment.
You can find my recipe for Buttermilk Biscuits on the Parade website along with my recipes for Pickled Cucumbers and Spicy Egg Salad (I love the lime and jalapeno in it) - all the fixings for a little picnic.
But if you've never made biscuits before, you might want to give these few pointers a quick once-over before pulling down the flour bin.
The butter for your biscuits should be cold, cold, cold. Cut the butter into small pieces, drop the pieces into the bowl with the dry ingredients and toss, so that the chunklets are coated with flour.
Use your fingers or a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour. Don't be overly thorough here - you want some pieces to be reduced to flakes and others to be pebbly and about the size of peas. It's the water in the butter that turns to steam in the oven, and it's the steam that puffs the biscuits and gives them their flaky layers, so keep this in mind and stop mixing and mashing a minute or two before you think you should.
Mix the cold buttermilk into the dough with a fork. Just gently lift and turn the sticky dough to incorporate it - no whipping or beating, here - and then reach into the bowl and knead the dough a few times to bring it together.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and either pat it into a circle that's about 1/2-inch thick, or roll it out. I used to be a patter, but now that I've got my wonderful red silicone rolling pin (you can just see it in the background in the photo), it's my tool of choice.
If you don't have a biscuit cutter, you can always use a knife and cut the biscuits into squares (in which case you should really roll the dough into a square). However, if you plan on being a bicuiteer, I'd suggest you get a proper cutter - biscuit cutters are taller than cookie cutters (so they can accommodate the thickness of the dough) and usually sharper-edged, so they cut the dough cleanly and not mash down the layers of dough and fat that produce biscuits' characteristic flakiness.
For biscuits that are soft-sided, place the cut-out circles close to one another on the baking sheet; for crusty biscuits, separate the circles, so the heat can circulate around them. Crusty or soft, I like to put the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with a reusable silicone baking mat (my favorite), parchment paper or foil.
Biscuits really should be eaten burn-your-fingers hot. Not only do they taste better, but when you pull a hot biscuit apart to butter it, you can really see the wonderful flakey layers. Cool - as they'll be if you take them on a picnic - the layers aren't as prominent, but the biscuit's easier to use for a sandwich.
And, don't forget that you can freeze the biscuits before they're baked. Roll them out and cut them, put the circles of dough on a baking sheet and slide the set-up into the freezer. As soon as the dough is frozen, remove the circles and pack them airtight. When the urge for hot, flakey buttermilk biscuits hits, just pull out as many as you want and bake them, giving them a minute or two more in the oven.
This is a very basic recipe and I'm sure you'll find a bunch of ways to play around with it. For starters, you can make a "sweet" milk biscuit - just swap the buttermilk for whole milk and omit the baking soda. You can also make herb biscuits - stir minced fresh herbs (rosemary is always good in biscuits) or a pinch of dried herbs into the flour bowl before you toss in the butter.
Once you get rolling, the ideas will come - I know it.
Tags: buttermilk biscuits
, egg salad
, Parade magazine
, silicone tools
Salads & Sides
Tools and Gadgets
| May 6, 2009 1:14 PM
Love love love hot biscuits from the oven. Your pecan sour cream biscuits are my absolute fav. I have messed around with that recipe quite a bit now. And let me say toasted coconut tossed in is a winner!
| May 6, 2009 1:22 PM
Something that I do is grate my frozen butter into the flour and then I don' t have to cut anything in.
Easy as pie...or biscuits.
| May 6, 2009 2:02 PM
Thanks for the tip on freezing the unbaked biscuits---I didn't know I could do that. I love little tricks that make me feel on top of things (because I'm not).
| May 6, 2009 3:44 PM
Dorie, Hot home made biscuts are the ultimate "grandmother's kitchen" memory for me. When I spent the night with her she would make hot biscuts on Sunday morning before church. My favorite way then and still is with butter and honey. Anyway, her tiny kitchen had a booth in the corner. I sat upon a very small suitcase to boost me up to the proper table height. Thanks for sharing your sweet tips and recipe. They compliment my sweet memories of eating hot biscuts. I also like knowing they can be frozen for convenience. Great idea!!
| May 6, 2009 8:39 PM
Thanks so much for the recipe and tips! I am gluten-intolerant and I adapted it to be gluten-free--they were delish!
Charles (Cat Boy)
| May 6, 2009 9:18 PM
There's just nothing better. And it's nice to see someone promoting biscuits; it seems like many restaurants are adding an egg, calling it a scone, and then charging considerably more.
I like them both, but I don't like one to masquerade as the other.
| May 6, 2009 10:13 PM
ah, your biscuits are just like what we call scones, apparently when eggs are added they are whigs... according to glyn christians book. But end of the day, they are still yummy quick breads ;-)
| May 6, 2009 10:23 PM
Hmmmm....those look so yummy! What an easy way to create fresh-baked goodness.
| May 6, 2009 10:31 PM
Dorie says, "If you don't have a biscuit cutter, you can always use a knife and cut the biscuits into squares (in which case you should really roll the dough into a square)."
I always use a wine glass to cut biscuits. As long as the rim is thin, it works like a charm.
| May 6, 2009 10:55 PM
buttermilk biscuits are my ultimate favorite. the ones in this photo look delicious! i think i have to make them in the morning.
my favorite way to eat them is still warm with a slab of homemade jam in the middle!
| May 7, 2009 3:01 AM
Dorie, your biscuits look mighty good. I have been making my mom's biscuits for years though and they be mighty good as well: http://www.ayearfromoakcottage.com/2008/11/simple-womans-day-book_16.html
I will throw caution to the wind though and try yours, as they look really, really good too!
Laura [What I Like]
| May 7, 2009 11:28 AM
I adore biscuits...my dad used to make some very dense cottage cheese biscuits when I was growing up. I loved them, and then discovered what real biscuits are and that nearly blew my mind. I make them all the time but it had never occurred to me to freeze them...thanks so much for the tip!
| May 7, 2009 3:50 PM
Over here we call these "scones". They're hard to make well - many thanks for the tips!
| May 8, 2009 10:29 AM
I have been reading about biscuits lately in several prominent places and my gosh, there is all this chilling and it is long and involved. My mother used to throw together drop biscuits in five minutes, and while very rustic they were good. I was enthused with your recipe, as it was so simple. I made the recipe with my fingers mixing fat and flour and they were very flat. Tasted great though. This is not the first time. Why are they flat? Do I not knead enough? Maybe the food processor is my tool of choice. When I cut in the flour by hand the butter is in flakes, not pea shape.
| May 8, 2009 5:32 PM
Hi Dorie -
I've admired you from afar and glad to have a chance to say how much I admire what you do and how well you do it!
My biscuits have never come out like my mother's did. You've give us some good tips - thanks -
| May 10, 2009 3:44 PM
Biscuits are such a terrifically simple thing to make. I love them with a little salted butter and just a touch of preserves - or even better, to mop up barbecue sauce alongside a savory meal! Just not both at one time :)
| May 10, 2009 7:44 PM
I made these biscuits and they were wonderful! The funny thing is, I accidentally doubled the butter and didn't realize it until they were the oven. Luckily, they came out great--so flaky and tall!
What's funnier, though, is that this is the second time I've doubled the butter in one of your recipes over the past two weeks. A couple weekends ago I made your World Peace cookies and for whatever reason, doubled the butter. (I wonder what my subconscious is trying to tell me.) Now, these didn't turn out as magnificently as the biscuits did...they flattened into delicate, crumbly pancakes. Oh well. The crumbles still had great chocolate flavor.
| May 11, 2009 5:47 PM
Great tips Dorie! I've made your cream biscuits and put some in the freezer. They are so nice to have on hand!
| May 12, 2009 10:44 AM
Regarding my previous post abve, I checked the baking powder and it was dated use before December 2006. Hum.
| May 12, 2009 7:15 PM
I don't make biscuits very often because they're never that great. Now I know some of the reasons why...
| May 13, 2009 2:35 AM
LOVE biscuits, great post Dorie!
Mixing Bowl Mama
| May 14, 2009 9:23 AM
I love biscuits but don't make them as often as I think my family would like. Thanks for these tips...I look forward to trying to make some this weekend.
Julia @ MÃ©langer
| May 14, 2009 6:48 PM
Hi Dorie, great tips and hints. Yes, as echoed by a few other comments above, these are like scones. Scones don't have egg in them though so thinking that's an American variation? I actually am about to enter my first baking competition here. For our annual Royal Exhibition in Brisbane (fondly known as the EKKA). There are a number of categories and one is scones. They look simple but can be a little challenging. Many elderly ladies with LOADS of practise enter this competition and take out all the blue ribbons. Charged with good advice, hopefully I won't be a complete disappointment. :)
Zach @ The Bitten Word
| May 19, 2009 11:29 AM
These are really great tips!
I make biscuits often, but they never are as fluffy as I want. Sound like my problem has been using butter/shortening that's not cold enough.
(Also, I've been using a drinking glass to cut out biscuits, and you've convinced me that I need to get a proper biscuit cutter.)
| May 21, 2009 9:07 AM
All excellent tips for biscuit making. I never have been totally satisfied with the biscuits I have made so I will be giving these a try. And a few extra for the freezer too.
| January 15, 2010 12:25 AM
These look luscious! I really liked chocolatechic's suggestion about grating the butter. I think the grater would need to be ice cold, too, though. I will be trying this recipe, for sure.
| April 3, 2010 11:44 PM
I made your recipe for buttermilk biscuits in the parade mag. I had leftover buttermilk and thought this would be a good way to use it up. I have never made them from scratch before and my bisquick were coming out rocks. these came out beautiful and tender and good. I have leftovers, don't know how to make them like fresh again, but will get eaten. thank you dorie, ps i have two of your books, the one with julia and the newest one with the cake on it. I am going to make that cake someday.
love you dorie
have a good easter
| August 30, 2010 6:41 PM
Thank you for sharing the receipe with us.
However, I have always wondered, do we really have to use baking powder and soda when baking biscuits? Or is there any way to subsitute them with other natural ingredients?
| June 23, 2012 7:03 AM
Hi, just wanted to let you know that the link for your recipe isn't working anymore. Here it is, hope you don't mind:
| June 23, 2012 7:13 AM
Oops my mistake! Please ignore the link I've posted earlier. Here it is:
replied to comment from Rohith
| June 24, 2012 7:23 PM
Rohith- Thanks for sending the correct link for the biscuit recipe. I really appreciate it.
| May 1, 2013 3:35 PM
My mother raised me on the idea that if you could make a good biscuit, you could get a husband. I've made a few over the years, but your Saint-Germain-des-Pres Onion Biscuits are without equal, the reigning household favorite.
replied to comment from Michelle Medley
| May 6, 2013 2:56 PM
Michelle- Your mother sounds like a fabulous woman! I am thrilled that you love my Onion Biscuits- merci for your sweet words.
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