Friday, October 31, 2008

The Secrets to the Best Ever, Perfect Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Classic 3-Ingredient Southern Buttermilk Biscuits
There's not a lot that separates most Southern biscuit recipes from each other. They all include flour, buttermilk or milk, and some kind of fat - but there are a few southern secrets that'll help you make the best homemade biscuits ever, including using the right southern biscuit flour.

Classic 3-Ingredient Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Perfect, light and fluffy, homemade buttermilk biscuits used to elude me until I learned a few "secrets" and I have perfect biscuits every time now.

Hand Formed Biscuits

Iron Skillet Biscuits

You don't have to use an iron skillet, but I do like the crunchy bottoms that it produces, sort of like how we like to do our cornbread Down South. I've discovered these enameled pans do a very nice job too, even without preheating. (I love these!)


Of course baking them spaced apart on a cookie sheet or touching one another in a cake pan works perfectly fine also - the first producing more crunch all around, and the latter producing soft sided biscuits.


Joe D: I tried your Perfect Southern Buttermilk Biscuits recipe this morning. Outstanding tips. These were the best biscuits I've ever made. Thanks for the tips.

Here's how to make them. As always, the full recipe with ingredient list, measurements, instructions and a printable document are further down the page - past the recipe secrets. Just keep on scrolling.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Yes, that's 500 degrees F! If using a cast iron skillet, coat it inside with some shortening or oil and place into the oven for 5 minutes. Otherwise you can use a Silpat or butter a rimmed baking sheet or pan, without preheating the pan. Put the flour into a bowl and cut the very cold butter into cubes and toss in the flour. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour until it is crumbly and resembles a pea shape.


Add buttermilk and use a wooden spoon or fork to mix very lightly. Dough will be very shaggy.


Put a bit of additional flour on the counter top and scoop dough out. Sprinkle a small amount of flour over the top.


Gently push together to form a rectangle. Do not overhandle the dough. Take the short sides of the rectangle and fold them in toward the middle. Turn the dough, gently press down into a rectangle again and fold again, repeat folding once more. Pat into desired thickness, usually 1/2 inch. This folding creates flaky layers in the biscuits.


Using a biscuit cutter or the rim of a small juice glass or jelly jar, cut out into rounds. My biscuit cutter is 2-1/2 inches. Take care that you do not twist the cutter. Place into prepared pan. I'm using a enameled baking pan, which does a beautiful job on the bottoms of the biscuits.


Gently gather scraps for the last biscuits and push together to form a rectangle, folding as before.


Anybody remember these old tin measuring cups? I'm sure that they must date back to the 50s, or maybe even before that. This is the one cup and it was my Mama's. I keep it in the self-rising flour canister and every time I make biscuits, it makes me smile to think about her. Bake at 500 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown on top and cooked through.


Out of the batch pictured, I only baked six of the biscuits and put up the others in the freezer. There are some pretty tasty frozen biscuits you can buy at the grocery store these days, but you pay a premium for them and while you may think they have only 3 ingredients, how about more like 14!

What? Why in the world would you need that many ingredients to make a biscuit? So, in other words, it's pretty wonderful having some "freezer biscuits" on hand that you know you made yourself and you know exactly what is in them.


If you have found yourself a bit "biscuit challenged" in the past and just couldn't get those light, fluffy biscuits you always wanted, no matter what, don't worry. You are not alone! There wasn't a single one of us who was born a biscuit expert, and believe me, it took lots of trial and error over the years, but I'm gonna let you in on my most important, secret tips to getting those perfect Southern buttermilk biscuits - especially when you're first starting out trying.


The Secrets to the Best Ever, Perfect Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Secret #1 - If you're using a cast iron skillet, preheat the skillet, just as you do with Southern cornbread. Coat a cast iron skillet or with shortening, or butter or spray a rimmed baking sheet or cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat it in the oven just like with cornbread for about 5 minutes. I like to use an enamelware baking pan these days and they do a beautiful job without preheating.

Secret #2 - Use very cold, self-rising flour, and for the best biscuits, use a soft, winter wheat flour - like White Lily brand - and yes, it does make a difference! Just stick the flour in a bowl in the freezer the night before you plan to make biscuits. Do not substitute all-purpose flour.

Secret #3 - Use very cold fat from the refrigerator. It can be lard, vegetable shortening or pure butter, but my preference is butter. If using butter, cut the very cold butter half into cubes. Cut into the flour first using two knives or a pastry cutter until crumbly. When first learning to make biscuits avoid using your hands.

Secret #4 - Use buttermilk. Real buttermilk, not a vinegar and milk substitute. All good Southern biscuits contain real buttermilk. Period. If you don't tend to use buttermilk in your cooking, it will keep awhile, so just keep practicing on your biscuits with it and put some up in the freezer.

Secret #5 - Cold dough. Remember, a successful fluffy and light biscuit comes from keeping the dough cold and not handling it too much. The heat from your hands will melt the butter, so until you get to the point where you can literally mix and shape biscuits in about 5 minutes, use a gentle and soft touch because you do not want the dough to get warm!

Secret #6 - Folding. After quickly kneading, push the dough into a rectangle and fold the short sides in toward middle one on top of the other. Turn the dough, shape into a rectangle again and repeat. Repeat this folding once more for a total of three times and pat into desired thickness, usually about an inch or less. If you cut the biscuits too thick, they will quickly rise and lean over. The dough folding action creates flaky layers in the biscuits. For the last biscuits you will need to gather the scraps. I shape the scraps and fold them again just as before.

Secret #7 - No twisting! Use a cutter about 2 to 3 inches in size, cut them very close together and take care not to twist the biscuit cutter, whether it be a cutter or a juice glass, but only push down and lift up on the cutter. Twisting will cause the fibers in the edges of the biscuit to close and result in a flatter and more dense biscuit. So just press down and lift up - no twisting!!

Secret #8 - Spacing. I like to do my buttermilk biscuits in a skillet, like I do my cornbread, which produces a crunchy crust on the bottom and soft edges. You may also bake them on a half sheet, rimmed baking pan or in a small greased cake pan. For biscuits that have more crunch all the way around, space them about an inch apart from each other. For soft biscuits, place them close together.

Secret #9 - High temperature. Bake your biscuits in a preheated 500 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Now, let's go make some biscuits!



For more of my favorite biscuits and bread recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!



If you make this or any of my recipes, I'd love to see your results! Just snap a photo and hashtag it #DeepSouthDish on social media or tag me @deepsouthdish on Instagram!


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Recipe: Classic 3-Ingredient Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 12 min
Total time: 22 min

Yield: About 6 to 12 biscuits


Ingredients
  • 2 cups of cold soft, winter wheat, self-rising Southern flour (like White Lily brand)
  • 1/4 cup very cold butter, shortening or lard (I prefer butter)
  • 3/4 cup cold real buttermilk
Instructions

Important! New to biscuit making? Scroll up and review the success tips and the step-by-step photos in the post above before starting!

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Coat a 10 inch cast iron skillet with additional shortening or oil and place into the oven for 5 minutes. Put the flour into a bowl and cut the very cold butter into cubes and toss in the flour. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour until it is crumbly. Add buttermilk and use a fork to mix very lightly. Dough will be very shaggy.

Put a bit of additional flour on the counter top and scoop dough out. Sprinkle a small amount of flour over the top and gently push together to form a rectangle. Do not overhandle the dough. Take the short sides of the rectangle and fold them in toward the middle. Turn the dough, gently press down into a rectangle again and fold again, repeat folding once more. Pat into desired thickness, usually 1/2 inch. This folding creates flaky layers in the biscuits.

Using a biscuit cutter or the rim of a small juice glass, cut out into rounds, taking care not to twist the cutter and gently gather scraps for the last biscuits. Transfer biscuits to the prepared skillet or baking pan and bake at 500 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown on top and cooked through.

Cook's Notes: This recipe uses self-rising flour - specifically a Southern soft-wheat type of white flour, such as White Lily. You may substitute regular all purpose flour, but you'll need to add 3 teaspoons of fresh baking powder and 1 teaspoon of salt. If using a cake pan or baking sheet, reduce temperature to 475 degrees F.

To Freeze: Prepare as above, except set down parchment on or butter a baking sheet that will fit in your freezer. Once you've cut out the biscuits lay them out on the pan, freeze until they are set and then transfer to a freezer bag. To bake, reduce oven temp to 375 degrees F, and bake until browned and cooked through, about 25 minutes more or less, checking at 22.

Herbed Biscuit Variation: Add up to 1 tablespoon of fresh, chopped herbs. Good choices include sage, chives, parsley, dill, thyme, or a combination. Reduce to about 2 teaspoons max if using dried herbs. Make biscuits a smaller tea size for a potluck, church supper or a party and fill with Chutney Chicken Salad.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

PRINT THE RECIPE WITH THESE TIPS
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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on October 31, 2008
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