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Buttermilk Biscuits: Buttery, Fluffy, and Perfect

buttermilk biscuits

About ten years ago I discovered that my stepfather was a huge fan of biscuits, so I decided to make a batch for his birthday. Poking around the internet, granter of all wishes, I found this simple, classic recipe that launched an instant family tradition. My stepfather went so out of his mind with delight over the warm, fluffy, buttery gift that I continued making them for him every year, and extended the ritual to Father’s Day as well. Somewhere along the way I caught on to the fact that my mother loves biscuits just as much as her husband does (I guess that should have been obvious from years of road trip diner stops that involved much maternal biscuit consumption), so I now make them for her birthday and for Mother’s Day as well. Over the years I’ve occasionally tried to pull out a fresh trick—dabbling with scones, cookies, and even a chocolate bread pudding—but the folks’ enthusiasm, though genuine, was just a smidge short of biscuit-level glee. I no longer mess with tradition.

It’s quite easy to make these little delicacies, no more difficult than making cookies. You can cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a hand-held pastry blender, or by pulsing in a food processor for a couple of seconds. I usually just rub the ingredients together by hand, but this is kind of a tedious and time-consuming technique, plus you run the risk of warming the butter with the heat from your hands. (For you pastry newbies, the goal of “cutting” butter into dry ingredients is to wind up with a mixture of uniform consistency. Some recipes call for a coarse cornmeal-like texture, while others might call for tiny pearls of butter to remain intact and visible.

You can serve these biscuits with honey or jam (per my family’s habit), or experiment with a savory version by leaving out the sugar and tossing in cheese and chives, for example. Serve savory biscuits with chili or soup, or slice and load with sandwich fillings like scrambled eggs and bacon.

Need ideas for using up leftover buttermilk? Try these recipes

Perfect Buttermilk Biscuits

Serve these biscuits with honey or jam, or experiment with a savory version by leaving out the sugar and tossing in some cheese and chives. Serve savory biscuits with chili or soup, or slice and load with sandwich fillings like scrambled eggs and bacon.

Biscuits will keep for a few days, in a sealed container, in the fridge or even on your countertop. To reheat, wrap loosely in aluminum foil and bake at 350°F until warmed through. Remove foil covering and bake for another minute or so to re-crisp tops.

Makes 12 to 15 biscuits.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1⅓ cups buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl to blend.
  3. Using a pastry blender or a food processor (on pulse) cut butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Add buttermilk and stir until evenly moistened.
  5. Using about ¼ cup dough for each biscuit, gently form into a rough ball and place on an ungreased baking sheet, spaced 2 inches apart. Lightly press the dough-ball to flatten slightly.
  6. Bake in preheated oven until biscuits are golden brown on top, 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Let cool slightly, but serve warm.

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