Femme Brûlée: Buttermilk Biscuits

I hope you didn’t think I’d leave you hanging after getting you to buy a carton of buttermilk for those pear muffins! It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t give you another delicious buttermilk recipe to make sure nothing goes to waste, and naturally it had to be biscuits. I’ve been a biscuit fiend for my whole life — I have my mother’s southern genes to thank for that — and there’s nothing that will motivate me to get out of bed in the morning like knowing there’s a warm, buttery biscuit with my name written all over it.

If you need an anecdote for proof of my biscuit love, here’s the best one. When my cousin Tory got married she hired a soul food caterer for her reception, and there were basically unlimited buttermilk biscuits. She also handmade jars of jam for every guest as the wedding favors. Mine was pineapple pepper jelly, and it was SO SO GOOD. I’d only packed a carry-on for the wedding and the jar was too big to get through TSA, so I decided the only thing to do was to eat the entire jar of jelly over the course of the wedding by spreading it on as many biscuits as I could stomach. I succeeded, and I did not regret it because it had been forever since I’d had good biscuits.

Unfortunately for me a decent buttermilk biscuit is hard to find to LA — as is, arguably the best flour to make biscuits with, White Lily Flour. There is no biscuit better than a White Lily biscuit, that’s a fact. If you’ve ever had a biscuit that was perfectly flaky and 2-3 inches tall, that was probably a White Lily biscuit. However, I know that not everyone lives in the south where it’s sold, is willing to order it online, or is willing to buy flour — whether online or in the store — for the sole purpose of making biscuits. One day I’ll share my White Lily biscuit recipe and try to convince you that it’s absolutely worth it, but today is not that day. These biscuits are for everyone who wants to make them using regular old All Purpose Flour and not end up with something totally underwhelming that feels like biting into a hockey puck.

The issue with using all purpose flour for biscuits is that it’s high in protein which makes it much harder to get a tall flaky biscuit like the ones you see in restaurants. It just doesn’t rise well. I promise you though that what these biscuits lack in height, they make up for in flavor. Oh, and by flavor I mean butter. There is a lot of butter in these biscuits. Being in charge means I get to make the biscuit of my dreams, and the biscuit of my dreams has so much butter from the start you don’t need to brush the tops at the end (but of course, you won’t regret it if you do). It also has just the right balance of salt and sugar to please the people who want a savory biscuit that’ll make an amazing breakfast sandwich AND those who want one with just enough sweetness to be the perfect vessel for jam, fruit, or whipped cream. These are nice and crisp on the outside but all softness inside. I tested this recipe so many times (six to be exact) that I should be tired of biscuits at this point but they just got better every round. And lets be real, there’s no such thing as me being tired of biscuits. If all this talk about butter and biscuits has woken up your inner craving monster that means I’ve achieved my goal. The only thing left to do is go make these biscuits!

Ingredients:

3 cups (360g) All Purpose Flour
12 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks or 169.5g) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and chilled
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 500ºF, and butter a 9 inch cake pan or cast iron skillet. 
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large bowl, then cut in the cubed butter using either a food processor, dough cutter, or your fingers. I like to use my hands and smoosh the butter into thin pieces. You want to get the butter down to the size of peas.
  3. Once the butter is incorporated, stir in the buttermilk just until the dough starts to come together, then dump it out onto a well floured surface. This is a very wet dough so you need to use lots of flour for this process. Flour your hands and sprinkle flour on top of the dough as well, then pat the dough into a rectangle and fold it over onto itself three times. 
  4. Now press down and form the dough into a large rectangle about 1/2 an inch thick, then grab your biscuit cutter, flour it, flour your hands again, and cut out the biscuits. You want to press straight down and pull right back up without turning the cutter. I use a 2 1/2 inch cutter which yields 8-9 large biscuits but you can use a smaller one to get a higher yield from the recipe. If you didn’t flour your surface enough the biscuits may stick, so throw some flour on a spatula to help you out. Honestly it should look like there was a blizzard in your kitchen if you’re doing this right. 
  5. Place the biscuits in your buttered pan, make sure they’re snuggled up close and touching as much as possible. 
  6. Bake at 500º F for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and sexy as f*ck on top. 
  7. Everyone knows biscuits are best straight out of the oven right? What are you even waiting for? Please eat them now.

Reneice Charles is a just another queer, liberal, woman of color using the Internet to escape from reality and failing miserably. She received her MSW from New York University and is an Entrepreneur and Vocalist living in Los Angeles. She spends her spare time wishing she didn't have to use her spare time convincing people that everyone deserves the same basic human rights.

Reneice has written 65 articles for us.

16 Comments

  1. I’m with you on the White Lily. My sister likes Southern Biscuit all purpose. Tired of biscuits is not a concept I’m familiar with either. I actually use my biscuit dough for my chicken and dumplings. They puff up like little pillows of deliciousness. Are we ever going to talk about grits?

    • You can use cake flour. The texture will be a little different. It’ll be more smooth than crumbly. Southern biscuit flour is very fine and absorbs liquid easily which helps prevent overworking the dough. The lower protein in cake flour makes it harder to overwork the dough. The main difference is the mix of leavening agents. It’ll give you a different texture, density, and rise. But it still can be a nice biscuit.

  2. Oh no! I am out of buttermilk, due to the fact that I have been exclusively making food with buttermilk in the recipes this week. I also don’t have a biscuit cutter, and honestly these seem kind of intimidating to me, since my previous biscuit attempts have all been abject failures. They do look amazing though. All those jam perfect crooks and crannies!

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