Good biscuits are an important part of any good, southern breakfast, but finding easy buttermilk biscuits that turn out light and fluffy can be a difficult task. When it comes down to it, it isn’t necessarily the recipe that makes or breaks good biscuits. A couple of simple steps can make all the difference.
Biscuits use two types of leavening agents to help them rise: chemical and steam. Many recipes will use either baking powder or baking soda. The problem with using only baking soda is that it will start reacting with other ingredients in the recipe, giving the biscuits an off flavor if you do not get them into the oven fast enough. Baking powder is more stable, but doesn’t always offer the same rise as baking soda. I use both baking powder and baking soda in my recipe. The baking powder helps to stabilize the baking soda, while also taking advantage of the additional rise that comes with using baking soda.
Steam leavening comes from butter used in the biscuits. Some people use lard in biscuits, but I prefer the flavor of the butter. Either way, it is important for the fat to be as cold as possible. The sudden change from solid cold to steaming hot will force the dough up, giving it rise as well as it’s flaky texture. For this reason, I refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before I bake my biscuits.
We want to cut the butter into our dough. If you’re new to making biscuits, I recommend using a pastry cutter. It will allow you to cut the butter into the dough without over mixing or over handling. It also helps keep your hands from getting as messy. I could mix my dough my hand, but I still prefer to use my pastry cutter. I also use it for pie crusts.
Typically, we wouldn’t want to over handle our biscuits. Handling the dough too much can develop the gluten, which could make the dough chewy. It’s a great quality in bread, but not the flaky texture we’re looking for in biscuits. Over handling can also cause the butter to melt, which will affect how much the bread rises. We are using cold butter and don’t want those butter particles to completely incorporate into the dough. However, we do want to knead the dough lightly to give it a nice, smooth crust.
With these techniques and an easy buttermilk biscuit recipe, you’ll have perfect biscuits on your breakfast table in no time.
Easy Buttermilk Biscuits
2 c. All-Purpose Flour
2 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 c. Butter, cold
3/4 c. Buttermilk, cold
Sweet Honey Butter (optional)
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Honey
In a medium sized bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut the butter into pats and gradually cut into the flour mixture until the butter is pea-sized crumbles. Add buttermilk and use a fork to mix the dough together until combined.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Dust your hands with flour and lightly knead the dough until it’s smooth and no longer sticky.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven 400 degrees. Roll the dough out 1/2″ thick and cut out the biscuits. My favorite biscuit cutters are these round cutters from Ateco. They are versatile and don’t loose their shape like the cheap cutter I’m using in the photo. My rolling pin is a 13 2/5″ x 1 1/5″ wooden French rolling pin.
Place the cut out biscuits on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Scrap dough can be kneaded back together and recut until you use all of your dough. Bake the biscuits at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter for the Sweet Honey Butter. Stir in the brown sugar and honey until the sugar is melted and well combined. As soon as the biscuits come out of the oven, brush the tops with the Sweet Honey Butter using a pastry brush.
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