Buttermilk Biscuits

November  3, 2014
Photo by Erin McDowell
Author Notes

A recipe that has gotten me through many lazy brunches and a dozen fried chicken dinners. Don't be scared off by the larger quantities, I tend to make biscuits for a crowd -- hello, Thanksgiving dinner. The recipe is very easily halved for weeknight baking.

[Editors' note: The quantity of flour is important here. If you don't have a scale, make sure you're using the spoon-and-sweep method (rather than scooping your measuring cup into the flour bag): Aerate your flour, then use a spoon to fill the measuring cup with a light hand, and finally, use the flat edge of a knife to push off the excess without packing in the cup. We also like these biscuits with a little more butter—15 tablespoons (7 1/2 ounces): They're more tender and buttery.] —Erin McDowell

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Makes 12 to 15 biscuits (depending on cut size)
  • 5 cups (600) all-purpose flour (White Lily flour is best, if you can get it)
  • 1 teaspoon (3 1/2 grams) kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (24 grams) baking powder
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces/170 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 2 cups (484 grams) buttermilk, plus more as needed
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together to combine. Add the cubed butter and toss to coat. Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture forms a shaggy mass, with pieces of butter similar in size to walnut halves. [Editors' note: Be careful not to overwork or over-mix your dough or it could turn out more shortbread-like.]
  3. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the buttermilk. Toss gently to combine the ingredients, taking care not to overmix.
  4. When the dough is fully moistened and combined, turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Press the dough into a 1 inch-thick square. [OPTIONAL EXTRA STEP: Fold the dough in half, then fold the halved dough in half (fold the dough in quarters), and chill for 5-30 minutes, then press bak into a 1 inch thick square before proceeding - this fold makes for even flakier biscuits, but is optional.]
  5. Use bench knife to cut the biscuits into squares or rectangles (this means no re-rolling or risk of overworking the dough). For round biscuits, you can use floured round cutter (2 1/2 to 3 inches wide) to cut circular biscuits. When you’ve used all of the dough, bring it together and knead it lightly a few times to bring it together. Repeat cutting biscuits from the dough until all of the dough is used up.
  6. Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate the biscuits for 15-30 minutes to chill before baking. Brush the chilled biscuits with egg wash before baking.
  7. Bake until the biscuits are risen and golden brown, 17 to 22 minutes. (Bonus points for brushing them with more butter after they come out of the oven, egg washed or not.) Cool slightly before serving.

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I always carry three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's pie. My first cookbook, The Fearless Baker, is out on October 24, 2017.