Posted by fourclankitchen on May 14, 2010
Recipes for “the best biscuits you will ever taste” are as common as there are cooks. So I won’t make the same claim for these buttermilk biscuits. But I will say that they are optimized like the parameters of a well-executed molecular biology experiment. There are not many parameters to optimize actually, but here are the key ones: use cold butter, do not overhandle the dough, cut the biscuits rather than breaking off and balling them up and use buttermilk if you have it. Once your biscuits are cut and ready to bake, there is only more parameter to tweak: if you like soft biscuits place them close to each other (1” apart) and bake them in a jelly roll pan rather than a baking sheet. If you like them crisper, set them farther apart and use a baking sheet. That’s it.
Buttermilk Biscuits (adapted from Sheila Lukins and Julie Rosso’s The New Basics)
2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1 tbs. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1tsp sugar (2 tsp-1 tbsp if you prefer them sweeter)
6 tbs. butter (the original recipe calls for 5 tbs., but uses ½ and ½ instead of buttermilk)
¾ cup buttermilk or 1/2 cup full fat yogurt+1/4 water ( the original recipe calls for the same amount of half and half)
egg wash (1 egg yolk + a little milk or water) for brushing the biscuits)
Turn the oven to 450˚F. Make the dough in the food processor: it works best. Mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in the food processor and give it a whir to mix the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into small pices (about 1/3” thick) and toss them into the processor. Using the pulse button, cut the butter into the flour till the flour resembles coarse cornmeal.
Add the buttermilk and pulse until the dough just holds together. Do not overprocess.
If you do not have a processor, then mix the dry ingredients and work the butter into the dry ingredients either with 2 forks or with your hands (less tedious). Then add the butter milk and work the dough with your hands till it holds together and you can form a reasonably smooth ball.
Roll out the dough to a ¾” high circle and cut out 8-10 2 ¾” inch biscuits and place 1” apart on an ungreased jelly roll pan (the one that has a lip). Brush biscuits with egg-wash and bake for 12-14 min in the center rack of the oven. Serve with warmed honey, butter or with grapefruit marmalade and a thin slice of cheddar (my favorite).