This is one of my most-baked recipes of all time. Adapted slightly from a recipe my mom would make for my family growing up. She would divide the batch in half, and mix dried fruit or nuts into some of the dough, then mix mini chocolate chips in for my brother and I. When I moved away from home, I turned to this recipe to help treat frequent bouts of homesickness - and because it's so easy to make, it soon became a staple.
When I was first invited to the Food52 offices many years ago, I wanted to bring a treat in with me to share with the staff. There was no other option: this recipe is so important to me, and I knew they would appreciate it. I made it extra special by making homemade maple butter to serve with it. If you want to skip the butter, this recipe can also be gussied up the same way my mom did: by adding inclusions like chocolate, nuts, fresh or dried fruit, or even savory ingredients like fresh herbs or shredded cheese. You can eyeball these inclusions, but a 1/2-3/4 cup works well as a jumping off point.
This recipe is adaptable beyond inclusions, too. When I used to frequently make homemade ricotta cheese, I would use the leftover whey from the process in place of buttermilk in this recipe. Sour cream, yogurt, and creme fraiche all work great, too.
I use plain biscuits for strawberry shortcake or biscuits and gravy, and I love to crumble the dough over a fruit or vegetables as an easy (and delicious!) cobbler topping. It may not cure homesickness for everyone, but the possibilities are as endless as your imagination with this recipe, and the resulting pile of dishes will be minimal. —Erin Jeanne McDowell
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Erinmcdowell is a writer, editor, and food stylist -- and occasional Food52 test kitchen assistant!
WHAT: Fluffy, delicate, lightly-sweet biscuits -- and homemade molasses-y butter to slather all over them.
HOW: Make butter (you can do it!) by whipping cream and molasses, and skimming off the liquid. Mix together your biscuits, drop them on a baking sheet, and butter them as soon as they're out of the oven. Feel very happy.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Let's look past the fact, for a moment, that these were the best biscuits we've had in a long time. We love that erinmcdowell calls for making your own butter in such a nonchalant way -- because once you do it, you realize how easy it can be. And the fact that these biscuits are adaptable makes them easy to whip up whenever the mood strikes; if you have leftover whey from making ricotta, you should use it, but feel free to swap in buttermilk. —The Editors
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 30 minutes
- Makes 1 dozen medium biscuits
- Drop Biscuits
all purpose flour (240 g)
brown sugar (71 g)
1 1/2 teaspoons
baking powder (6 g)
baking soda (2 g)
salt (1 g)
cold unsalted butter, cubed (85 g)
buttermilk (or leftover whey (from making ricotta or butter)) (115 g)
egg (57 g)
vanilla extract (5 g)
turbinado sugar, as needed to garnish
- Molasses Butter
heavy cream (470 g)
generous pinch salt
molasses (Steen's is the best I've ever tasted) (64-85 g)
- Drop Biscuits
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to combine. Cut in the butter and mix until it ranges in size from peas to walnut halves in the dough. (This can be done by pulsing in the food processor, which makes quick work of it!)
- Whisk the whey/buttermilk, egg, and vanilla to combine. Add the mixture to the dough and mix just until it comes together - it should be pretty shaggy but evenly combined.
- Drop the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake in a 375 degree oven until golden at the top and around the edges, 12-15 minutes.
- Molasses Butter
- Whip the cream in an electric mixer on medium high speed. Whip until the buttermilk separates, then pour it off. Add 1/2 cup of water and mix for another minute or so, then pour off the liquid. Repeat 2-3 times or until the liquid is mostly clear when it is poured off.
- Season the butter with salt, and whip in the molasses. Mix until well combined. Slather on warm drop biscuits.