The Stock Pot: Fundamental Recipes – Buttermilk Biscuits
To me, true Southern biscuits are the ones my grandmother and my mother made for me as a kid – not too tall with a slightly crunchy crust on the outside and meltingly tender on the inside – just like these. This recipe, updated in the PPM style, uses butter and non-hydrogenated, organic vegetable shortening. My mother is a skilled biscuit maker and rolls hers out by hand (it’s a goopy job but that’s how I was taught) but here I call for the dough to be patted and then punched out with a biscuit cutter – it’s a little more user-friendly for novice bakers. Either way, just remember to keep a light hand or you’ll end up with hockey pucks instead of tender, flaky bundles of love.
- 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ cup organic, non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
- 3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- ¾ to 1 cup cold buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Using your fingertips, pinch the shortening and the butter into the flour mixture until it is in small pieces, the size of baby peas. Still using your hands (or using a wooden spoon), mix in the buttermilk (use as much buttermilk as necessary – I use a little over ¾ cup ) until all the flour has been incorporated and the dough just comes together.
- Dump the dough onto a floured surface, sprinkle the top of the dough with a little flour and gently knead the dough 5 or 6 times. Pat into a ¾-inch thick round and cut out as many biscuits as possible with a 2-1/2-inch cutter. Reroll scraps to cut out more biscuits. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake until the biscuits are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, brush with melted butter, if desired, and serve warm.
Planning: If you prefer to use self-rising flour, eliminate the baking powder, baking soda and salt, and be sure to roll out the dough with all-purpose flour. Otherwise, your biscuits will have a chalky (and bitter) film from the leavening. When cutting out rounds, do not twist, as this will compress the sides, causing them to not rise as high.
Product Purity: Southern flours, like White Lily or Martha White, are milled from soft wheat and have less protein, making it an ideal flour for biscuits and other baked goodies since it does not develop as much gluten when kneaded. While I use table salt in most of my baking, this recipe calls for kosher salt. Non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, like Spectrum brand, is available at some larger grocery stores and whole foods shops.
Presentation: My mother (and grandmother) always lined a shallow bowl with a linen napkin and quickly covered the biscuits with the napkin’s corners to keep them piping hot on the trip to the table. I serve mine with real butter (room temperature) for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
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