Not being a Southerner, and having never travelled there until a few years ago, I didn’t know what I was missing. My biscuits have always been of the mix and dump variety. Still good and they always disappear quickly, but these…they are flaky and light and buttery and good all by themselves or slathered with jam or more butter or made into breakfast sandwiches with egg and bacon. One of us may even have used hollandaise like butter, just because you can’t really save hollandaise. And the biscuits were still warm.
Son Andrew is behind these. He showed me this recipe months ago, but I kept putting him off because really, can they be that much better than what we already make, and time, so much more time. Turns out he was right. They are definitely worth the extra effort and time. There are two keys to getting the flake – grate frozen butter, and fold the dough as if you’re making croissants. You’ll want a food processor fitted with a grating disc, or a strong, patient person if you need to do it by hand. A food processor is very highly recommended.
– Joan and Andrew, 27 March 2020
Nirvana buttermilk biscuits
- 3 cups minus 1 tablespoon (382 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 cup (227 grams) butter, frozen
- 1⅓ cups (300 grams) buttermilk
Whisk together all the dry ingredients. Use a food processor fitted with a grating disc, or use a manual grater (you won’t do this more than once, trust me) to grate the frozen butter. Use a fork to mix the butter into the dry ingredients, then mix in the buttermilk. Mix just long enough to get all the flour incorporated.
Dump the dough out onto a floured surface. Work quickly and refrigerate the dough for 20-30 minutes at any point if it seems too warm. Flaky biscuits require cold butter during the process. Pat the dough out flat, then roll into a rectangle about 9″x13″. Do a letterfold – one-third of the dough folded inward, then the opposite third folded over it. Flip the envelope upside down and repeat. Do this five times. Make sure to get all of the dough within that 9″x13″ area to get maximum height in the baked biscuits. We let these be a little thinner because we wanted to use them for breakfast sandwiches that would actually fit into our mouths. Place the dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Turn refrigerated dough out onto a floured surface. There are a couple of methods possible for cutting out biscuits. The best way is to section the rectangle into 12 pieces with a very sharp knife. Make a clean cut straight down and don’t wiggle or rock the knife as you cut. Clean off the knife between cuts so it doesn’t stick. Place cut biscuits into a greased 9″x13″ pan with sides. Baking them with with edges close together forces them to rise up instead of spread out as they bake. You can use a very sharp biscuit cutter in the same way, straight down without wiggling, and placed side by side in a baking pan. Cutting out rounds will mean you have leftover dough that can be re-rolled and cut into more pieces, or simply patted out and cut, though biscuits made from the re-rolled dough will not be as flaky. That’s why the first method of cutting into rectangles yields the flakiest ones. Brush tops with melted butter and bake at 400°F for 20 minutes. Cool about 10 minutes before serving.