Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Baking Biscuits

 
 My husband, unlike me, is a true southerner... he was born in Tennessee and raised in Alabama.  He says "yes, ma'am" and "no, sir" and to this day adds a "Mr" and "Ms" before my parents' first names.  Like most southerners, one of his favorite foods is biscuits.  When we first married, I was convinced I could prove to him that a healthier homemade version could taste better than the biscuits that came out of a can from the refrigerated section of the grocery store.  However, that was no easy feat for me, particularly since I baked more batches than I can count that were either hard as a rock or flat as a saucer, or even worse, both.

Over the years I stubbornly kept trying again and again and tweaking ingredients and methods.  It was a happy day when I finally had a batch turn out and I think I may have worn a smile all day when my husband could honestly say that they tasted good. Since then, I guess I like to think that I have perfected them (smile). 

Sometimes I hesitate to post recipe tutorials because in all honesty you're probably the one that could teach me something!  Nevertheless, I thought I would share my biscuit recipe with you and a step-by-step tutorial of how I make them. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

I use three simple ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached Self-Rising Flour (I've been buying the King Arthur brand for years... their flour is unbleached and contains aluminum-free baking powder) + a little extra
  • 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter 
  • 3/4 cup Buttermilk*
*Although I love the hint of buttermilk, regular milk will work just fine.  I've used it many times with equally good results, but you will need to decrease the amount to 1/2 cup.

Before baking biscuits, I bring out my "biscuit-baking" tools:
  • Pastry Blender (although I consider this a must-have inexpensive gadget, two butter knives will work also)
  • Biscuit Cutter (a round glass would also work)
  • Rolling Pin
  • Cast Iron Skillet (mine is around 12")

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Measure out 1 1/2 cups of self-rising flour and pour into a large mixing bowl.  Keep your flour handy - we'll be using it again!


Cut 4 Tbsp of cold butter into small chunks and place in the bowl with the flour.


Using a pastry blender (or two butter knives) cut the butter into the flour until the butter looks like little crumbs.

For a long time I made biscuits with shortening.  However, when I cut hydrogenated oils out of our diet, I wondered if I could substitute an equal amount of butter.  What resulted was a buttery, flaky biscuit full of flavor.

Measure about 3/4 cup of buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk) and pour into the flour/butter mixture.  

I personally use whole buttermilk which is why this is so clumpy.  I started buying milk from the nearest natural foods store and it still comes in a glass bottle... isn't that neat?


Stir the ingredients just until everything comes together.  Do not worry too much about all the flour being incorporated... we will knead it into a smooth ball soon! 


This is when I "prep" my kneading station.  I use a cutting board because it makes for easy cleanup.  Begin by sprinkling a little flour over your flat surface and keep that flour handy still.
 

Dump the dough onto your floured surface.  You're going to start kneading it, so if the dough is sticky, sprinkle a little more flour on top.  Knead the dough until it becomes a soft ball... it won't take long.  As you knead, the dough will likely turn sticky again, so just sprinkle in a little more flour if that happens. 


You want your end result to be soft and silky, but not sticky.  Shape the dough into a round disc with your hands.

What I've learned about baking is that you have to keep at it even if you have less-than-desirable results.  So much about baking is learning the texture of your dough.  It won't be long before you will rely more on what your dough looks like and feels like than exact measurements.


Using your rolling pin, roll out the dough until you achieve a desired thickness.  We love fluffy biscuits, so I roll mine out about 3/4" thick. 

My girls looove "helping" me with biscuits Saturday mornings.  Jillian likes to help me stir and cut out the biscuits.  Rosetta, on the other hand, likes to play with the rolling pin and poke holes in the dough.


Now you're ready to cut out your biscuits!  You will have to roll out your dough again a couple more times before all the dough is used up.  If the dough is so sticky that it won't come out of the biscuit cutter, lightly pat a little flour over the top of the dough. 

See what I mean about poking holes into the dough?  (smile)


As you cut out your biscuits, place them in an ungreased cast-iron skillet.  This will result in a biscuit that is slightly crunchy on the outside with a light, buttery texture inside.  Yum!  Now pop them into the oven.


I'm going to be honest here... I don't usually leave my biscuits in the oven for a specified amount of time.  I know it will take them anywhere from 13-17 minutes and I keep an eye on them until they are just golden.  But for the sake of this post, I timed this batch and I took them out after exactly 15 minutes.  We all know oven temperatures differ, so I recommend keeping an eye on them. 


I bake biscuits every single weekend, usually on Saturday morning.  We eat a healthy breakfast of oats during the week, so this is a treat I never feel guilty about.   I love our weekly Saturday morning tradition... while my husband takes care of chores, I cook breakfast.  (Sometimes he even brings me home a latte from the coffee shop in town.)  We slather on the honey and sometimes more butter too.

These biscuits are worth the effort, although after a while I promise you won't think of it as an effort at all!


63 comments:

  1. I don't think I have ever craved a biscuit more than I do right now-slathered with butter and honey, of course. I am saving your recipe. I have never made biscuits with self-rising flour but I will try it- xo Diana

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  2. Andrea, Your biscuits look amazing! I am slowly starting to buy all cast iron. I will have to get a skillet next so that I can try these. Yummo!! ~ Jamie

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  3. A good biscuit IS hard to come by and I can't wait to try yours!

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  4. Yummmmm! I'm with NanaDiana, you've got me drooling and craving biscuits!

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  5. Yum! So much better than from the can, I know what I'm making Saturday morning :)

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  6. Yummo! I recently starting changing our diets also and made my first chocolate cake from scratch--gosh what a difference. Can not wait to try these--although it will be apple butter for me.. thank you for sharing, Kris

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  7. These look delicious (and I, for one, enjoy your recipes!!). Your measuring cup is so cute, too!

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  8. I wish I could go back to when my son was a little boy and make him these biscuits. He loved them...actually he still does. I am pinning this and the next time he comes home I'm going to try it. Your posts just make my day...this was a delight!

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  9. gorgeous...I went on a school trip to a Pioneer village and they baked us some delicious scones over the fire...I've been wanting to make them ever since...these remind me of them....YUMMM...xo

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  10. That is a picture worth framing! Makes my mouth water. Will definitely try your recipe. Thanks for sharing.

    Judy

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  11. I love love love biscuits and I am a southerner too (well not really but think I am because I love everything southern, hee hee) I am so thrilled that you posted this recipe. I have one that I do often but don't love it. So I'm so excited to try yours. I love when people share, I think it's so important because if you have something that makes you happy why not make someone else. Thank you dear. By the way, my best friend and I refer to one another as Miss all the time even on the phone. I say "Hello Miss Dawn, and she'll reply "why Good morning Miss Lisa." I love that. So I love that your husband is a true southern gentleman.
    By the way, I didn't love my scones that I posted. I try but couldn't stop tasting the lardy after taste of the vegan butter.
    xoxo
    Lisa
    Leeshideaway.blogspot.com

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  12. This is almost the same as my biscuit recipe, which was my mother's, which was her mother's! Yes, got to have buttermilk for the best biscuits. But you have taught me something, young lady. I have never thought about baking them in an iron skillet. I will try this next time. The pictures are wonderful and I love that darling measuring cup!

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  13. Yours look really good. I have never used butter in the mix. I use shortening. Hmmm, may need to try the butter.

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  14. Looks delicious- thanks so much for sharing! I usually don't take the time to make biscuits, but I'd like to start :) A lot of times we cook eggs and bacon, waffles or pancakes for Saturday morning breakfasts (we raise chickens so eggs are always a staple at breakfast), but I love the tradition of buttermilk biscuits!

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  15. Oh my! They look delish! I'm going to have to try this recipe out. Thank you for sharing!

    Angela @hickorytrailblog.blogspot.com

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  16. Oh my goodness. Me too! My hubby is a Southerner (VA) - Yes Mam!, No Sir! - opens the car door for me - Still! and LOVES his biscuits and gravy (sausage) ...and grits. Saturday's are my BIG breakfast days... for sure.
    But boy - have I ever had fits trying to make biscuits just "right". I continue to work at it. I'm going to try my skillet next time.

    YOURS look AWESOME!!! Oh my... to die for. Thanks for sharing this.

    I love your measuring cups (where to find them?)...and biscuit cutter. Love vintage.

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    1. Thanks so much, Bevy! Your hubby sounds a lot like mine. :-) The measuring cups came from Anthropologie (a few years ago). Unfortunately, I don't think they sell them any longer.

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  17. I think you've acquired a few southern ways! :) These look delicious and I didn't know you could put them in an skillet in the oven. My husband would be one happy boy if I made these for him!

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  18. These look amazing! I can't wait to give the recipe a try.

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  19. Oh yumminess! Those look so good! My mom has a really good biscuit recipe and it uses butter too. I'm going to have to try your idea about using a skillet. Hope you're having a good week :)

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  20. Your biscuits look wonderful! I must say that mine are never as good as my mother's. I believe I don't make them often enough to have ever perfected them. (I should remedy that!)

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  21. Looks like practice makes perfect. They look so flaky.

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  22. You know how to make biscuits alright! Look at those buttery layers! I will have to try your simple recipe out very soon. Your pictures are beautiful and that one with butter and honey make me drool.
    Blessings,
    Leslie

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  23. These look wonderful. I used to make homemade biscuits when the boys were little and its been forever since I have done that so I'll just use YOUR post as a recipe and perhaps bake the first batch in ages here!

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  24. Your biscuits look perfect! I recently learned how to make them from my Grandmother and she uses shortening. I would love to try them with butter to make them a little better for us. I noticed that you keep your flour in the glass canisters, do they have seals and if not, do they keep well? Also, I have a set of the cute measuring cups that are nearly identical to yours that I got from Pier 1 Imports and I believe they still carry them (for anyone interested). Thanks for the great tutorial, have a great day :)

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    1. Hi Deni! Yes, I store all my flours and some other pantry goods in glass canisters that I buy at Wal-Mart. They do not come with a seal but I've never had a problem, although I do go through flour pretty quickly. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Anchor-Hocking-Heritage-Hill-2-Gal-Jar-with-Lid/16486707

      Thank you also for sharing about the measuring cups! The Pier 1 measuring cups are very similar and cheaper too. Here's the link: http://www.pier1.com/Floral-Measuring-Cups---Set-of-4/2433082,default,pd.html

      I

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  25. I will most definitely be sharing this with my southern man (LA). He's been on a quest for the perfect biscuits for so long! I'll let you know how they go. Maybe I'll surprise him and make them myself. :-)

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  26. Thank you! I'll be trying this soon. I haven't attempted biscuits in a while because mine have always been so dense and flat. Your step by step picture tutorial is perfect! :)

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  27. Thanks for sharing your method. I am going to tackle 'sourdough' biscuits from my starter this afternoon. It may be a fail, but it is the experience of trying until I get it right, just as you said.
    Farmhouse hugs,
    Cindy

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  28. A cast iron skillet? Clever! Will try. I am not a southerner. I say "you guys" instead of "ya'all"...but I LUUUUUUUUV biscuits. Thanks for sharing your lovely recipes and photos.

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  29. Biscuits made with butter are so much better than shortening. Years ago, I would freeze a stick of butter and grate it into the mix. I've only recently started baking them in the iron skillet and it does make a difference!

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  30. Mmmmm, they look so good, especially the last photo with the honey and butter. Yum! I love your old biscuit cutter. I guess if one doesn't have a cast iron skillet, you can bake these on a cookie sheet too. Thanks for your tutorial.
    Claudia

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  31. Oh my...they look absolutely wonderful....there is nothing like a homemade biscuit with lots of butter and honey!...Thanks so much for the recipe..and just love your tradition!!...Your hubby must look forward to Saturdays!!...I would!!
    Have a wonderful week!

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  32. Oh my! Those look heavenly! I have tried to bake homemade biscuits before and each time I do something wrong and they end up flat and hard like hockey pucks. I am going to follow your recipe step by step and get it right! I hope you are doing well! I have been out of blog land what seems like forever. I am looking back at your posts and as always you have exquisite taste and superb photography skills!

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  33. I'm an Alabama girl, too. I think we're raised with an understanding of good biscuits, and cast iron skillets are given as wedding presents here. These look wonderful. They're as good with beef stew as they are with homemade strawberry jam.

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    1. I received several cast iron skillets as a wedding gift! They get used every day. :-)

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  34. Have never made homemade biscuits such as these. They look so wonderful and I bet they just melt in your mouth. Its funny that this post happened just now, as I was having a craving for buicuits. No lie. I just bought the refrigerated ones and the only ones I was raised on was Bisquick made ones. Oh we Midwesterners. That is so cute that Justus has that southern politeness. Does he have a bit of a southern drawl as well? Justus is a lucky guy to have such a wonderful chef. I do have an iron skillet that I use constantly and have had it since we were first married. I'm gonna have to make these this weekend. Wish me luck.

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    1. Yes, he has a bit of a southern accent! He says things like "y'all" and "fixin' to". :-) I think I'M even getting a southern accent! I hope the recipe works for you... let me know!

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  35. They look so good!!! There is nothing like a homemade biscuit. I am going to try these for sure.

    Kathy

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  36. Warm biscuits and a jar of honey were our neighbor Christmas gifts this year, I thought who doesn't love biscuits! I haven't had one since, but your photo has me wanting to make a batch tonight!

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  37. Thank you...I used a cast iron skillet to bake biscuits for the first time today. They seemed to have cooked more evenly. Could you give me some guidance on cornbread? I enjoy reading your blog.

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    1. Thank you, Carol. Sure, I'll do a cornbread post in the future! I have a couple recipes that are my favorite and I always cook it in a cast iron skillet too.

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  38. Your biscuits look perfect!
    One more tip...I got it from Martha...work/knead your dough as little as possible. Seriously...it makes them even lighter. When I make a sweet biscuit for strawberry shortcake, I "glom" it all together and dump it in my pie plate and make one giant biscuit. It's super light and yummy.

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  39. Beautiful biscuits. Your recipe is almost my mother's exactly, except she still uses shortening. Mother is 80 and still makes biscuits every single morning, except Sundays. I want to be her when I grow up.

    Now, I'm craving biscuits!

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  40. Mine usually come out salty, yuck. Now I'm going to try your recipe. I love that it's so simple. Thanks for the tutorial.

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  41. Oh yum, yum, these look so delicious. thanks for sharing the recipe. hugs ~lynne ~

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  42. Oh...Beautiful, Buttery Biscuits! Your biscuit pics are recipe book quality. The post is great. It makes me think of my early biscuit days. I am a southerner but that doesn't mean it all comes natural. I asked my Grandma what was her trick to making great biscuits(and she sure did). She gave me a sweet smile and said,"make 'em, make 'em, make'em." She was right mine are pretty good now. I made 'em, made 'em, made 'em.

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  43. As a retired Home Economics teacher of 32 years, I'd say you have biscuits decidely mastered! Taught many a kid how to make these. Good for you!

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  44. I have the same measuring cups, and the same rolling pin, but haven't been using my skillet for baking, hmmmm. Your photos are exquisite. I just made heart shaped biscuits last week. :)

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  45. I love that you have your little helper with you when you bake, such sweet moments. You make it look so simple & your mornings sound so peacful:). Jen

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  46. Love the photos and the "primer", thanks!
    Have you tried the white lily flour? There is one just for biscuits...
    I have the same measuring cups and rolling pin....
    Have a great weekend.
    Nancy

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  47. Oh, these look so delicious... they look like the perfect biscuit! We are gluten-free right now and it has been a real challenge coming up with biscuits that resemble a biscuit at all. Maybe I'll try your recipe with a gluten-free flour mix subbed in. In any case, I must get my hands on a cast-iron skillet.

    PS - I think it would be so neat to buy milk in a glass jar like that!

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  48. Thank you for the wonderful recipe! I made them this morning and they were delicious!

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  49. Your biscuits look delicious, Andrea. I love that you make them in an iron skillet.

    What natural food store is there near you? Would love to tell my mom.

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  50. I love biscuits and your recipe looks YUMMY! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  51. Okay, I bought all the ingredients yesterday, and my family has a date for these tomorrow morning. Thank you for the cozy, inspiring post. Excellent!

    Did I see you in this month's Romantic Homes magazine? (We flew through the store rather quickly and I only gave it a skim...) If so, congratulations!

    Blessings,
    Fiordelisa

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    1. I hope the biscuit recipe worked for you and you enjoyed them!

      Yes, thank you so much!

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  52. I am currently devouring my second biscuit. I can't believe how easy these were to make! I actually used Bisquick because I didn't have any King Arthur available. Thank you so much for this delicious recipe!

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  53. I am currently devouring my second biscuit. I can't believe how easy these were to make! I actually used Bisquick because I didn't have any King Arthur available. Thank you so much for this delicious recipe!

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  54. Great to know! My husband was also raised in alabama & we live there, but I'm not so I'm going to try these! Thanks!

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