These biscuits are tall, fluffy and flavourful – and don’t require a pastry blender! They’re delicious on their own and extra yummy topped with butter, jam or molasses.
Cutting fat into flour is a kitchen skill that I’ve taken a long time to master. I’ve made a lot of flat, hockey puck –like biscuits over the past few years. So when I discovered this recipe, where frozen butter is grated into the flour, it became my go-to. And while I’m finally starting to wield a pastry blender with confidence, these biscuits can’t be beat for simplicity or flakiness.
You’ll need flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, butter and buttermilk.
You can see a little sneak peek of my new kitchen – I’ll give you a tour once I’ve got everything where I want it! It’s been grey and rainy pretty much since we moved in so the photos are not my best. I’m hopeful that when the sun comes out the light in the kitchen will be better.
The secret to these biscuits is frozen butter. Cut a 6 tablespoon block of butter (¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons), pop it in a ziplock or wrap in foil (or the butter wrapper) and freeze until solid. I usually pop the butter in the freezer in the morning if I’m planning to make these with supper.
Buttermilk is the only ingredient here that isn’t a pantry or fridge staple. While I often improvise buttermilk in other recipes, I recommend using the real deal here for the best rise and taste. If you choose to substitute, put about ¾ tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup and fill it to the ¾ cup mark with regular or non-dairy milk. Let sit about 5 min to “sour” before using.
I usually only buy buttermilk when I need it for a specific recipe, and then make biscuits to use up the rest! I wish it came in small cartons like whipping cream, but it gives me more reasons to bake! The rest of this carton ended up in these waffles and muffins.
The last batch of biscuits happened because I had made this cake.
That should give you some ideas to use up the rest of your buttermilk! I’m working on an index of recipes that use less common ingredients (such as cake flour) so when you buy a product for one recipe, you can get ideas for ways to use up the rest of the package. I hope to have that up on the blog this summer. Stay tuned for lots of fun stuff this summer – as a teacher, that’s when I’ll really have time to play in the kitchen and on the computer!
Back to the biscuits…sift or whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. I recommend sifting if your baking powder is the slightest bit lumpy, you don’t want bitter pockets in your finished biscuits.
Use the large holes of a box grater to grate the butter into the flour. I rotate which side of the butter block I hold to keep my fingers from melting it. Be careful not to grate your fingers, especially as your butter block gets small and your fingers get numb! I zested my pinky while making lemon squares the day before I made these and did it ever hurt!
Toss the butter with the flour until it’s evenly distributed and resembles coarse crumbs. I used a wooden spoon but fingers work well too.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the buttermilk.
Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together into a rough ball.
Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it’s smooth, anywhere from 8 – 12 times.
Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll the dough out ¼ to ½ inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits of whatever size you’d like.
No biscuit cutter? Use a glass – that’s how my mom always did it when I was a kid. Cut your biscuits as close together as possible to use as much dough as possible on the first roll. You can re-roll your scraps and cut more biscuits, but they’ll be a bit lumpy and won’t rise quite as well.
I apparently skipped pictures of the biscuit rolling process – this is after re-rolling the scraps so they look a little wonky.
Alternately, roll the dough into a circle or square and use a knife or pizza cutter to cut wedges or squares. This method actually gives you the least waste.
I went with a fairly large circle cutter since I was making breakfast sandwiches. See last week’s post for the sausage recipe!
Place the biscuits on a baking sheet. The silicone liner isn’t necessary, but ensures the biscuits don’t stick if the bottoms get a little too brown.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and brush over the tops of the biscuits.
Bake at 450° for 12-15 minutes, or until the tops are brown.
Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack, or enjoy warm!
Serve biscuits with butter and jam, or try one of these decadent spreads:
Leftovers will stay fresh for a few days at room temperature in an airtight container, or a few weeks in the freezer.
The yield depends on how thick you roll the dough and how large you cut the biscuits, but expect to get about twelve 2 ½ inch biscuits, or twenty-four 1 ½ inch biscuits.
Buttermilk Biscuits with Frozen Butter
Adapted from: http://chefmichaelsmith.com/recipe/frozen-butter-biscuits/ and the Joy of Cooking
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons butter, frozen
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Use a box grater to grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture. Lightly toss the butter with the dry ingredients, using fingers or a wooden spoon, until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Stir until the dough just comes together.
Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead 8-12 times or until smooth.
Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the dough ¼ – ½ inch thick.
Use a biscuit cutter or glass to cut biscuits of desired size. Place on a baking sheet.
Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter.
Bake at 450° for 12-15 minutes or until tops are browned.
Yield: 12 2 ½ inch biscuits, 24 1 ½ inch biscuits