Buttermilk Biscuits

A video tutorial is located at the bottom of this recipe.

Biscuits are SO easy to make, it blows my mind why people by those disgusting cans of biscuit dough in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, or attempt to use Bisquick, which is filled with salt, hydrogenated fats, and preservatives.  It generally takes me less than 15 minutes from start to finish to whip up a batch of biscuits.

You really need to keep buttermilk on hand in your fridge.  If you’re not familiar with this ingredient, you should be!  Buttermilk can be substituted for milk or cream in many recipes with superior results.  I use it in ALL baking recipes, in salad dressings, sauces, gravies.  It’s such a versatile ingredient.  It also keeps far longer than its expiration date, because the milk has been cultured with a special bacteria (the kind that’s GOOD for you!) which preserves the milk and acidifies it…preventing other dangerous bacteria from taking hold.  I often will keep a gallon of buttermilk a month beyond its expiration date, and it’s still beautifully fresh.  As long as it retains its characteristic tart smell, rather than a rancid or spoiled smell, you’re good-to-go…especially if you’re baking or cooking with it.  If you don’t have buttermilk, in a pinch you can substitute 1 cup of regular milk with 2 teaspoons of vinegar whisked in.  Let it sit on the countertop for 5 minutes before using.  It will thicken a bit and even start to curdle.

In a bowl, mix:

2 cups all-purpose flour (I use unbleached)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt

Stir it around with your fingers until well mixed.  Then add:

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into slices)

With a pastry blender, your fingers, or 2 table knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture over and over, regularly rotating your bowl, until the butter has disappeared into the flour and resembles coarse crumbs.  The video will help make this step clear to beginners.  Make a well in the center of the mixture with your fingers, and add:

1 cup buttermilk

With a fork, gently drag the dry ingredients into the buttermilk, carefully “stirring” until all the dry ingredients are absorbed.  On a very dry day or with old flour, you may need to add an extra splash of buttermilk for it to all come together.

Dust your countertop with flour and scrape the dough onto the flour.  Liberally flour your hands and GENTLY work the dough until it comes together into a cohesive mass.  Then fold the dough over on top of itself and gently press down.  Repeat this folding 10 times.  This forms the layers of your biscuit.  You will feel the dough start to become stiffer with each fold.  Be gentle.  The more vigorously you work the dough, the tougher the biscuits will be.

Gently press the dough out until it’s about 3/4″ thick.  (You don’t need a rolling pin, this can actually make your biscuits tough.)  With a biscuit or cookie cutter, cut them into the desired size rounds, and place on a baking sheet.  (I line my with foil or parchment.)  Bake on the center rack of a preheated 400F oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned on top.  Split, butter, and serve!

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