Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Buttermilk Biscuits ~ Southern Style

I have not been able to conjur up a good batch of biscuits since I moved North, until recently. Well, let me tell you,

All I ever needed to know about life biscuits, I learned from my momma and Alton Brown!

Did you know that there is Yankee flour and Southern flour? I didn't! Southern flour is better suited for biscuits, because biscuits are a Southern food...imagine that! Mr. Brown explains the scientific reason behind this in his Good Eats episode, The Dough Also Rises. So, before telling you how to make fab biscuits, let me stress the importance of looking at the flour sack to see where it was produced. Find something from Tennessee, North get the picture.

Also, please use real buttermilk. Turning regular milk with vinegar just doesn't work as well. And, for heaven's sake, don't use regular milk straight up! Buttermilk lasts FOREVER in the fridge, and is good for so many things...cornbread...cakes....

I have adapted many of Mr. Brown's tips into my biscuit making. Here are the results....YUM!

2 cups SOUTHERN self-rising flour
2 T butter
2 T shortening
1 cup buttermilk

(Mr. Brown contends that it is better to use all-purpose flour along with 4 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, and 3/4 tsp. salt. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find Southern all-purpose flour here. So, I'm making-do with self-rising.)

Preheat oven to 450*.

Lightly grease a shiny metal pan with shortening.

Add flour to a bowl (along with baking powder, baking soda and salt if you're using all-purpose flour).

Add butter and shortening.

Using a pastry blender, 2 forks, or your fingers cut the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Make a well in the center and pour in your real, bonafide buttermilk.

Stir it all up until it holds together, but not a second more. The more you work the dough, the tougher your bisciuts will be.

Flour some wax paper and turn the dough out on to it. Notice the extra flour on the sides, there. Well, you're gonna use that. Pick up the edges of the wax paper and bring them together, causing that flour to cover the top of your dough. Use the wax paper to pull the dough together. Release the wax paper and fold the dough onto itself several times.

Do this as little as possible, but until it is relatively smooth.

Now it is time to pat it out. Use a rolling pin if you must, but in my opinion it is just a waste of time and gives you something else to wash. (Save the rolling pin for pie crusts.) Besides, if your biscuits are too perfect someone is liable to accuse you of getting them from a tube! Pat the dough out evenly with your hands until it is about an inch thick.

Now it is time to cut. I do not like my cutter, I want one that is open in back. I feel like this one is pressing down on the top of the biscuit. But, for now it is what I have. Push straight down, do not twist as you cut. I sometimes find it easier to peel away the scrap before lifting the cutter, as you see here, in order to pick up the cut biscuit.

Place gently on pan, lightly touching on the sides. Mr. Brown says it is important to gently mash your thumb into the center so that they will rise flat, instead of domed. Whatever... I just think it is fun to mark them. If they all have my thumbprint in them, then they are all mine to eat...right?

Baking times vary based on your oven. Mine is perfect at 18 minutes. Start watching them at 15. They should be golden on top. ( I let these go just a minute or two too long...they're still yummy, though!)

Now, while they're still hot, cut one open and put a pat of butter and a spoonful of brown sugar inside...then close it up and give it a few seconds to melt together. Make sure your momma is nowhere close, because it's gonna make you want to smack her!


  1. I did know about the southern flour & northern flour thing. It has to do with the amount of protein in the flour. This is also why you see more cake recipes from northern cookbooks. It's also why so many southern cookbooks specify "White Lilly." I did not know you could find southern flour up here. I'll have to get diligent about searching some out, so I can improve my biscuits.

    I'm wondering if you've ever tried making them up and flash freezing them for future use?

  2. I believe Alton said that the Northern Flour is made from a hard wheat, as opposed to the wheat used in the south. I guess hard wheat has more protien. I find that Food Lion is the most reliable (I use that word with trepidation) source of Southern items in this area. (Because it is headquartered in NC.) There is a Harris Teeter in Columbia now. I'm gonna check there the next time I'm in town. (Also a Southern chain.) If I can find White Lily around here somewhere, I'll do my happy dance ;)

    I have not tried freezing them. But, next time I make a batch I will throw one in the freezer and then bake it the next day. You can buy frozen biscuit it seems plausible. I do not know if this recipe will work, but we will find out. Sounds like a good project for the coming snow days!

  3. Wow, maybe that's why this Long Islander has never really had much luck with biscuit-making! (I can't do a pie crust either. I used to have a hard time with gravy until I learned Alton's super-easy way. I love that guy!)

  4. Mom2fur, Pie crust is my next project. The last time I tried to make it, I pre-baked and it shrank to half the size it was supposed to be, lol. Alton is awesome! Thanks for stopping by!


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