American

Soft & Tender Biscuits

January  6, 2020
Photo by Amanda Reece
Author Notes

During my time spent in pastry classes, while I was thrilled to be learning the ins and outs of my favorite French desserts, I often found myself wishing I could learn more about perfecting the simple, unfussy kinds of pastries I had drooled over as a child growing up in suburban America. This, in addition to a week of snow storms and cancelled classes, led to my first foray into creating my dream buttermilk biscuit. Nearly six years and too many tweaks to count later, this recipe consistently produces soft, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits that repeatedly receive love from friends and coworkers and even once won first place in a local breakfast competition (I'm not making it up, I swear).
There are multiple ingredients and steps that are crucial parts of what makes these little biscuits so special. While many recipes call for rubbing cold butter into the flour by hand, freezing the butter and pulsing it directly into the dry ingredients with a food processor ensures that each bite is just as buttery as the last by incorporating it more evenly throughout the product. For a one-two punch of both flavor and my ideal texture, I used equal parts buttermilk and heavy cream, which gave me the tang I knew and loved alongside the moist crumb I had always wanted.

These biscuits are sure to be a crowd-pleaser at any party or bake sale, and the best part of all - the dough freezes beautifully (perfect for weeknight dinners or sleepy Sunday mornings). —Amanda Reece

  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Makes 12
Ingredients
  • 450 grams all-purpose flour
  • 15 grams granulated sugar
  • 15 grams baking powder
  • 15 grams baking soda
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
  • 185 grams high quality salted butter, frozen (Kerrygold, Plugra, etc.)
  • 225 grams buttermilk (very cold)
  • 225 grams heavy cream (very cold)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Measure the butter, cut it into cubes, and freeze for at least 20 minutes (to speed up the process, this step can be done the night before).
  2. Measure the butter, cut it into cubes, and freeze for at least 20 minutes (to speed up the process, this step can be done the night before).
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor.
  4. Add the frozen cubed butter to the dry ingredients. Process the butter into the flour mixture on the processor's highest setting until no visible clumps of butter remain (30 seconds to 1 minute). This mixture should resemble sand.
  5. Scrape the flour-butter mixture back into the medium-sized bowl. Pour the cold buttermilk and heavy cream into the flour-butter mixture. Gently fold the wet and dry ingredients together using a rubber spatula until they have formed a soft, shaggy dough, taking care not to over mix.
  6. Generously flour a clean surface. Scrape the dough directly onto the flour, then lightly flour the top of the dough as well. Using clean hands, pat and press the dough out into a rectangle measuring roughly 9" x 13".
  7. Carefully fold the dough onto itself in the same way you would fold a brochure. Lightly flour the surface again, then gently flip the folded dough over and rotate it 90° horizontally. Press the dough back out to a roughly 9" x 13" rectangle.
  8. Repeat the above pressing and folding steps 5 more times, only pressing the dough out to about 8" x 10" after your final fold.
  9. Carefully wrap the dough rectangle in plastic wrap. Freeze for 20 minutes, until moderately firm.
  10. Using your sharpest serrated knife, cut the dough into 12 even pieces, using a gentle sawing motion and taking care not to press down on the dough. Place the biscuits onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, roughly 1 inch apart from each other.
  11. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water together until no visible strands of egg white remain. Using a pastry brush, brush a thin layer of the egg wash onto the tops of the biscuits, taking care to avoid the sides.
  12. Bake the biscuits for 15 to 20 minutes on your oven's center rack, until the tops are golden brown. (Optional: If you've hit the 20 minute mark and the tops of the biscuits are still pale, move the biscuits to the lowest rack, turn on the broiler, and continue to bake just until the tops have browned, about 1 minute. Watch the biscuits very carefully if you choose to take this step.)
  13. Let rest for 10 to 20 minutes before serving with butter and your favorite jam or marmalade.

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