buttermilk biscuits for the soul

by Patricia on February 2, 2010 · 39 comments

biscuits

As much as chicken soup is lauded as a cure for what ails you, and is perhaps the quintessential comfort food (it even has its own series of books for goodness sake), I’d like to disagree. You see, to me soup is fine when you have the flu and are eating mostly liquids, but when your soul needs soothing, soup is a little too light duty.

I had a severe case of the blahs last week. I felt uninspired, bloated, and a couple of shades of blargh. Holly Golightly would have called it the Mean Reds. Whatever you call it, you know it is not fun. So there I was, prostrate on my couch watching Pride and Prejudice for the 4th time in 3 days when I realized I needed to eat. I had a kitchen full of vegetables and fruits and healthy options but at that moment I wanted none of it. Ten in ’10 be damned, I wanted biscuits.

The great thing about biscuits is they are dead simple. A few ingredients plus a few minutes of work, and poof. Soul-soothers like no other. I’ve eaten my share of biscuits over the years, everything from Grands to Bisquick to my Aunt Sudie Faye’s homemade biscuits smothered in gravy. Aunt Sudie Faye’s were the pinnacle of biscuit perfection in my book. That is, until last week.

biscuits

I have made many biscuits myself, using a few different recipes but in recent years settled in with Alton Brown‘s (of course). I love that episode where he makes biscuits alongside his grandmother. She’s so cute and reminds me of home (she is so completely and totally a Southern grandma).

I’ve made many batches of his biscuits and thought I was satisfied. They are good. I always did as he said and worked the dough as little as possible so the biscuits were flaky (almost to the point of falling apart), but I never could get mine as tall as Aunt Sudie Faye’s.

For whatever reason, I didn’t want those biscuits anyway. I wanted something better. Now, normally in the middle of the blahs is not the time to go trying something new. Usually it’s best to go with old reliable because horror of horrors, what if the new ones aren’t good?

Well, I was in a difficult mood. And picky. I thought, “so what if they don’t turn out, I kind of expect they won’t anyway. I suck at baking.” Not a reflection of the recipe, just my general outlook that day. After a little research, and a lot of effort (getting off of the sofa is hard. Especially when Mr. Darcy is around), I turned to Homesick Texan for a new biscuit experience.

See, biscuit recipes vary but not by that much in the way of ingredients. However, her method is vastly different than AB’s. Where he says don’t work the dough, she says beat it with your rolling pin. I probably enjoyed beating the dough a little too much.

These biscuits came out tall and layered and beautiful and delicious. With butter. With pear preserves. With gravy. Heck yeah, I made gravy. Look out, there’s a new biscuit in town. And it is in every way perfect.

While I wouldn’t recommend eating half a dozen (or more) biscuits all by yourself on a regular basis, I do believe they can wrap your achy soul in buttery goodness and lift your mood. I felt better by the end of the day and even pushed myself out the door to spin class where the instructor tried to kill me. But in a good way.

help wanted

Want to do my dishes? I’ll pay you in biscuits.

Buttermilk Biscuits

(from Homesick Texan)

The best biscuit I’ve made. Perhaps the best biscuit I’ve eaten. And just so you know, I’ve eaten a lot of biscuits. Tall, flaky, layered. These biscuits are tender but substantial enough to stand up to a thick cream gravy. Perfection.

Makes 10-12 biscuits.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons) butter, cold
3/4 cup buttermilk

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Mix together all of the dry ingredients.
  3. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles pea-sized crumbs.
  4. Make a well in the center of the butter-flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Stir until the flour is just incorporated but the dough is sticky and loose.
  5. Pour dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 1 minute. The dough should be smooth and no longer wet. (Sprinkle the surface with more flour if the dough is sticking).
  6. Shape the dough into a ball, and hit it with a rolling pin, turning it and folding it in half every few whacks. Do this for a couple of minutes. [Better than a therapy session]
  7. Roll dough until it is 1/4 inch thick and then fold it in half. Cut out your biscuits from the folded dough using a round biscuit cutter or a glass (pick whatever size you like best. I’ve used anything from a shot glass to a tumbler depending on my mood).
  8. Place on a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat or parchment paper (or grease the baking sheet if not using either of those). Make sure the biscuits are slightly touching so that they will help each other rise up instead of out.
  9. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
  10. Eat them with butter, jam, preserves, gravy or friends. Just eat them.

{ 31 comments }

1 Eviedish February 2, 2010 at 11:35 pm

GORGEOUS BISCUITS!!

2 KristiLou February 3, 2010 at 3:07 am

Growing up in Missouri, we had biscuits nightly, but usually from a can. Now I live in Wisconsin, and my biggest challenge has been finding biscuits & gravy for breakfast! It’s a staple south of the Mason-Dixon, however these northerners just don’t seem to know a good thing.

I will try the Homesick Texan biscuits, and try freezing them so I can have them on demand!

Thanks for sharing, and also for sharing such a great find in the Homesick Texan!

3 Patricia February 10, 2010 at 5:19 pm

You should try Homesick Texan’s gravy too… ;)

4 Lisa February 3, 2010 at 5:33 am

Your biscuits are gorgeous!

5 Melissa February 3, 2010 at 5:39 am

My grandmother was from Oklahoma. She cooked all things southern. You know, with real butter and lard and a large glass of sweet tea. I loved going to her house for weekend visits. She always made those things that were bad for the waistline but just made you feel good all over. Although, as children, we didn’t know what a waistline was, let alone care about it’s size! I loved my Grandma’s biscuits and gravy, never biscuits from a can either. I have never been able to make homemade biscuits, maybe I will give this recipe a try, then slather them with cinnamon butter. I’ll just have to walk a few extra laps at the gym!

6 Patricia February 10, 2010 at 5:21 pm

They are totally worth the extra laps!

7 marcella February 3, 2010 at 7:37 am

Oh my, those look wonderful! Yesterday I made a loaf of very healthy whole grain and seeded bread. I was looking forward to toasting some for breakfast until I read your post. Now I need biscuits!

8 Michelle February 3, 2010 at 9:54 am

Be still my heart!

9 Mary February 3, 2010 at 11:02 am

I will do your dishes for payment in those yummy looking biscuits!

10 Beth February 3, 2010 at 5:15 pm

I’d do your dishes for a week for one of those flakey biscuits with honey in the middle! YUM! I’ve been shoving as many broccoli florets and string beans down my throat as possible since the New Year and all I’d like to do is dig into a big slice of homemade apple pie a la mode. OR these biscuits :) Well done! I have yet to master these as much as I love them. Might have to give them another shot this weekend, thanks to you!

11 Memoria February 3, 2010 at 10:14 pm

I trust any recipe from Homesick Texan. These look perfect. I’ll do your dishes for biscuits!!

12 BethieofVA February 4, 2010 at 3:44 am

Lovely, just lovely….

13 deana@lostpastremembered February 4, 2010 at 4:59 am

Those really are perfect… so many layers like mille feuille!!!!

14 Adelina February 4, 2010 at 7:04 am

“Beating the dough”??!!! YES!!! I’ll do it!!! I’m so tired of being gentle with dough lately, especially when I’ve been trying to perfect tart/ pie doughs! So this should be my next project to do in the kitchen!!! Those biscuits look divine and I bet they taste awesome too!

Thanks for posting and for sharing!

15 Carolyn Jung February 4, 2010 at 9:01 am

I’d gladly wash a few dishes for some of those amazingly flaky biscuits. Where do I sign up? ;)

16 Eliana February 4, 2010 at 11:29 am

These look picture perfect Patricia.

17 Danielle February 4, 2010 at 11:37 am

I am in awe of your flaky layers!! I have tried and tried but alas, I can’t get the layers like this. I can get the taste, the presentation is just not there. I believe I’ve even used a recipe almost identical to this one. I keep trying though!

18 grace February 4, 2010 at 3:36 pm

well, one of the few things i love more than the latest version of pride and prejudice (helloooo, matthew macfadyen!) is a flaky, soft, supple biscuit, which is what i see before me now. sadly, i can’t reach through my screen and grab one. lovely work. :)

19 Carolyn February 4, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Recovering from a month long hospital stay and having a new baby at home I made biscuits every few days as they were one of the few things I could manage to eat. Since then I am always on the lookout for anything biscuit related. They are such a simple but perfect food. Thanks for the tips.

20 Megan February 4, 2010 at 8:39 pm

These remind me of the homemade biscuits my Mom used to make-I love how tender and flaky they look, how perfect! I can’t wait to give this recipe a try :)

21 Kristen February 5, 2010 at 8:52 am

Patricia, those are the most beautiful biscuits I have ever seen, I have never seen then that tall. Funny, I was craving biscuits yesterday, I cannot remember the last time I had them. Got a serious craving now! Hope your mood has improved :)

22 Frenchie February 5, 2010 at 11:51 am

I love how flaky and tall these guys look. I always want to make biscuits, but I worry that they will be tough. This recipe seems accessible and delicious, I am looking forward to making it.

23 ButterYum February 5, 2010 at 5:42 pm

What stunning photos. I’m bookmarking this one!

:)
ButterYum

24 Messy@ Bungalow'56 February 7, 2010 at 11:33 am

Love Alton Brown, so scientifically geeky. Did the biscuits really get that high? I don’t think I’ve ever had biscuits that look that flaky? Also love the dirty dishes picture. It’s beautiful. I guess it’s true, one can find beauty in anything. I won’t show this post to my daughter she has just discovered making bread. We are drowning in baguettes, cinnamon rolls and whole wheat loaves. I am in heaven. I’m going to look for your twitter button now.
Dana

25 Peggy February 8, 2010 at 3:52 am

These biscuits sound like a great cure-all!

26 Meg February 11, 2010 at 1:32 pm

I just made these the other night and they were wonderful! I have made biscuits a couple of times before but never had them rise so high. They were light and had a great flavor-mostly from the local buttermilk I used. I definitely recommend this recipe. You can easily make half the recipe, as I did, and I got 5 biscuits using a 2 5/8 inch cutter.

27 Karly February 12, 2010 at 7:26 pm

I just found my perfect biscuit recipe and now you show me these? I have a feeling they will give me delicious cream biscuits a run for their money.

28 Duchess of Fork February 13, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Wow, my husband will have to try these!! He makes buttermilk biscuits most every weekend, but yours have twice as much butter as his, which can only mean that they’re AWESOME! Thanks for sharing.

29 Brenda Hamrick March 11, 2010 at 8:04 am

I thought you had to use baking soda when you used buttermilk…? I tried them both ways, with soda and without, they are great! Thanks!

30 Megan Gordon March 14, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Dude! Look at those beautiful, flaky layers. I must admit, my biscuits have never looked like this! Beautiful–will give them a try.

31 Meagan June 9, 2010 at 9:30 pm

One brilliant thing I learned from my brother-in-law’s grandma is to make your biscuits the night before and then freeze them. I do this with my pie crusts also. It freezes the butter back into a solid, and makes your biscuits even flakier. Just take them straight from the freezer into a 400 degree oven, and check at 15 minutes.

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