The Tricks for Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits
It’s time we try something new! We’ve never explored the biscuit world on my blog before, so let’s do it BIG. Big as in mega flaky, mega fluffy, mega layers, mega golden brown, mega buttery, and mega nerdy as we dive deep into this comfort food carb sensation.
As spring brunches and dinners are on the horizon, knowing how to craft the perfect sidekick to your meal is essential. And it’s quite serendipitous that this “side dish” may taste even more remarkable than the main event. No, no. It WILL taste more remarkable. Just look at these buttery layers! Nothing can compete.
Biscuits are quite similar to any other pastry we’ve discussed before. Scones, pie crust, tart dough, etc. And the good news is that biscuits are worlds easier than each of them. There aren’t too many steps for making biscuits from scratch– and after one taste you’ll question why you ever bought “biscuits” in a can before. Trust me– store-bought does NOT compare to this flavor and texture!
I want you to feel informed and encouraged so I took plenty of step shots of my method and I’m going to teach you all the tricks for making flaky buttermilk biscuits at home. I tried this recipe from All Recipes last year and decided to make a few changes to both the recipe and technique over the past few months. Here’s what I did.
BISCUITS, STEP BY STEP + TIPS
You only need 6 ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, cold butter, cold buttermilk, + honey. With so few ingredients, you truly taste each and every one, so it’s imperative to reach for quality ingredients and avoid any substitutions.
You can use either a pastry cutter or food processor for this step. Combine all the dry ingredients, then add the cold butter and pulse/cut until crumbs form. I have no preference over either, but I will say that the food processor is much quicker.
For flaky layers and pockets, use cold fat. Cold is an absolute must. We know this from pie crust and scones. When little crumbs of butter melt as the biscuits bake, they release steam and create little pockets of air – this makes the biscuits a little airy and flaky on the inside while remaining crisp on the outside.
Add the liquid ingredients. Real buttermilk and teeny drizzle of honey to balance out the salt. Buttermilk creates the most tender biscuit! Basically all you’ll do is make a well into the center of the dry ingredients, then fold it all together. The dough will look shredded and shard-y. I’ve been waiting all day to type “shard-y.”
Don’t overwork the dough in this step. In fact, don’t overwork the dough at all. Overworking and over-handling the biscuit dough will result in tough, hard, and flat biscuits. Mix the ingredients together *just* until combined.
Fold and flatten! The most important step of all is folding the dough together. This is the part where you can really get into your food and have fun. (The best foods are the ones you play with in the process, right?) Turn the scrappy, shard-y looking dough out onto a work surface and mold it together with your hands. Form into a rectangle.
Remember, always be gentle with it!
Fold one side into the center.
Turn the folded dough horizontal, press it down flat (gently!), and begin that folding process 2 more times.
Why are we folding the dough?? You’ll be rewarded with the most flaky biscuits ever, that’s why! Folding and flattening creates layers. It will take you no more than 2 minutes to do that entire process, promise.
Roll out with a rolling pin and cut into circles. The dough should be about 1/2 inch thick. And WHOA will that dough rise rise rise in the oven when they bake.
When cutting the dough with a biscuit cutter, do not twist the cutter. Press the cutter down into the dough firmly. Again, do not twist it. Twisting it will seal off the biscuit edges, preventing the biscuits from rising. Been there, done that. OOOPS.
Brush the tops with a little buttermilk, which helps achieve a slightly crispier top crust. Then, BAKE!
I like to bake biscuits in a cast iron skillet. Biscuits rise up nice and tall when they are touching, pressed snuggly against one another in the oven. What’s more snug than squeezing into a round skillet? Bonus: the cast iron skillet helps produce a super crisp bottom.
All about that honey butter! This is totally optional, but will set your biscuits apart from any you’ve had before. When the biscuits come out of the oven, give them a brush of melted butter + honey. Both ingredients you already used in the biscuit dough, keeping the count at 6 ingredients total.
No tip here except… this honey butter addition is legit.
I hope you learned a few things today and are confident baking biscuits from scratch now! Let me know if you give them a try this spring. Happy weekend!
Mega Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits
- 2 and 1/2 cups (312g) all-purpose flour, spoon & leveled1
- 2 Tablespoons baking powder (yes, Tablespoons!)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, very cold and cubed2
- 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons (270ml) cold buttermilk, divided
- 2 teaspoons honey
- optional for spreading: 2 Tablespoons melted butter + 1 Tablespoon honey
- Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Place the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl or in a large food processor. Whisk or pulse until combined. Add the cubed butter and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or by pulsing several times in the processor. Pulse until coarse crumbs form. See photo above for a visual. If you used a food processor, pour the mixture into a large bowl.
- Make a well in the center of the mixture. Pour 1 cup of buttermilk (240ml) on top, then the honey. Stir everything together until just about combined-- do not overwork the dough. The dough will look like shreds and be very crumbly. See photo above for a visual.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gently mold it into a rough looking rectangle using your hands. Use the photos above as a guide. Fold one side into the center, then the other side. Turn the dough so it's long horizontally. Gently flatten. Repeat the folding again. Turn the dough so it's long horizontally once more. Gently flatten. Repeat the folding one more time.
- Gently roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it's 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 3-inch circles. Re-roll any scraps until you have 12-14 biscuits. Arrange in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or close together on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. (Make sure they're touching.)
- Brush the tops with remaining buttermilk. Bake for 15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown on top.
- Remove from the oven and, if desired, brush with melted butter and honey mixture. Enjoy warm. Cover leftovers tightly and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Make-ahead tip: Baked biscuits freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm to your liking before enjoying. You can also freeze the biscuit dough. Prepare the dough through step 3. Wrap up tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and continue with step 4. Also, after step 3, you may wrap up the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days before continuing with step 4.
- Starting with cold flour is a handy tip! If you can remember, place the flour in the freezer 30 minutes before beginning.
- While you're placing the flour in the freezer (note above), place the cubed butter in there too! Partially frozen butter is the BEST for biscuits.
Adapted from All Recipes
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