How To Make Flaky, Awesome, Perfect Buttermilk Biscuits

in Biscuits, Breakfast

In the first season of Felicity (yes, I’m re-watching it right now AND loving it), Ben Covington (Scott Speedman) says that everyone is good at three things. Three things! So, I asked myself: What three things am I good at?! I thought long and hard about these answers; here they are:

1. I’m a good daughter. I call my parents, include them in my life (despite us living across the country from one another), I listen to them, and make time them. Because, as I’ve learned over the years, all parents really want is time.

2. I’m a really good girlfriend. And a really really bad ex-girlfriend. Like, I might throw out your clothes/DVDs/electronic equipment that you leave at my house. Might. Whatevs!

3. I’m a very good biscuit creator/dreamer/taster/eater. I wasn’t born this way. No. My talent for making biscuits comes from just straight obsession. No talent needed, just facts and a few tips and tricks.

My love for biscuits is well documented on this here corner of the internet that is A Cozy Kitchen, but I wasn’t always good at making them. I actually remember making my first batch of biscuits in college and remember them being flat, sort of bland and dry. Now, they’re tall, flaky, buttery and kind of amazing.

(Take the jump, let’s rock out with some biscuits.)

Step 1: Get your dry ingredients together. Get your butter together. Biggest thing with this step: make sure your baking powder and baking soda are fresh.

Look at the expiration date. If they’re old and expired, they won’t work, which will result in biscuits that are flat and not so cute.

Step 2: Grate the butter into the flour mixture and place it in the freezer to chill. The key to tender and delicious biscuits is to handle the dough as little as possible.

Grating the butter into the flour mixture helps with this. Think about it. There’s no need to break up large chunks of butter. The grater makes it so the butter is practically already at an ideal size: pea-sized.

Step 3: While the flour and butter are chilling out in the freezer, combine the wet ingredients. And make your egg wash.

Step 4: Take the flour and butter bowl out of the freezer. Break up the butter, gently, until it’s combined into the flour mixture.

All at once, pour in the cold buttermilk and egg mixture.

Grab a spoon and mix it all together. It should come together pretty quickly. Knead it in the bowl a few times and dump it out onto your kitchen counter…

Step 5: I don’t use a rolling pin for biscuits, usually. I find it something sort of unnecessary and just another thing I need to clean. Instead I just pat the dough into a sort-of circle and cut the biscuits out.

If you twist your cutter, the biscuits may have a tendency not to rise as much. So don’t do that. Just straight down and firm.

Step 6: Egg wash. And into a very well preheated oven is super important. These biscuits have a good amount of baking powder and a little bit of baking soda, which will make them rise. But height is also created from those bits of butter throughout the biscuit hitting the heat and creating steam. This steam pushes the biscuit upward, resulting in a tall, good-looking biscuit.

Also, since this blog here is a nice little community, and not a dictatorship, if you happen to know other tricks or tips I didn’t mention above, feel free to leave them in the comments. Most likely other people reading will benefit, and I will too.

All week I’ve been going around and asking all my friends what three things they’re good at.

So, YOUR TURN…!

How To Make Flaky, Awesome, Perfect Buttermilk Biscuits

Print this recipe!

Dry:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 scant teaspoon fine grain sea salt (table salt works too!)
1 1/2 stick (6 ounces) unsalted butter
Wet:
1/2 cup buttermilk, cold and shaken
1 large egg, cold
Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk (or 1 tablespoon water)

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a box grater, grate the butter into the flour mixture. Transfer the bowl to the freezer while you gather the wet ingredients, about 5-7 minutes.

3. Measure out the buttermilk and add the egg; whisk until combined. In a small bowl, make the egg wash, whisking together the egg and milk. Transfer both to the refrigerator.

4. Grab the bowl out of the freezer, and gently break up the butter and combine with the flour, using your hands, until it resembles small peas. Add the buttermilk mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Mix until barely combined; and lightly knead the dough. until it forms one solid mass. Sprinkle your kitchen counter with flour and dump the dough onto it. Press the dough into a 3/4-inch thickness. Cut out the biscuits using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter, ending up with about 6 biscuits. You can recombine the scraps and get 2 more biscuits. Transfer them to the baking sheet.

6. If you think you’ve been moving a little slow (like I was because I was..ahem..taking pictures), stick the baking sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes. This will get the bits of butter nice and cold again. After the biscuits are cold, brush the tops of with egg wash and bake in oven or 10 to 15 minutes, until tall and medium golden brown. Serve biscuits warm with honey and jam. YUM.

Yields 8 biscuits

{ 84 comments… read them below or add one }

NewYorkGirl March 2, 2013 at 7:03 am

Just made these this morning for a family of hungry teenage boys. Needless to say the were a huge hit!! Delicious!

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Kinnie March 23, 2013 at 4:25 pm

I remember keeping my boyfriend up at night when I first found your blog, going through page after page of recipes!
We’re in Sydney, Australia but my (now) husband is American. I ALWAYS refer back to this recipe whenever making him breakfast, as the first time I made them he almost cried with nostalgia haha!

Thanks again for this and all your recipes, my husband especially is forever grateful!

xoxo

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Jen @ Fresh from the... April 23, 2013 at 9:51 am

Made these this past weekend and they are probably the flakiest biscuits I’ve ever had! Thanks for the biscuit tips!

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Randy June 10, 2013 at 7:11 am

My wife says these are the best I’ve made. Thanks for the recipe. Am curious to see how cooling and grating the butter works with other biscuit recipes.

Two questions. Was the cooking time meant to be “for 10-15 minutes”? I used 12 but I may try baking them a little longer next time. Also, I got about twice as many biscuits as listed using a 2-inch biscuit cutter. Did you use a 2 1/2 or 3 inch cutter by any chance?

Thanks again.

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Adrianna Adarme June 10, 2013 at 9:03 am

YES! Let me change the 10-15 minutes. Hmm…interesting. Let me check on my biscuit cutter again but am pretty sure I used a 2-inch. Thanks for the tips. Will make the changes now.

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Randy June 10, 2013 at 10:17 am

Wow thanks for the quick reply. I’ll have to make them again and doublecheck the amounts and dough height. I’ll send a photo if I get another 14 biscuits. :)
I’m glad to see you are using weights more now.

PS – Did your cookbook get published yet? How can I get a copy?

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Sarah July 11, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Made these for breakfast this morning. They were a major hit in my family table! Excellent! Thanks for sharing. I had featured u in the post of Top 7 Best Biscuits from Scratch on AllFreshRecipes, looking forward to ur more delish posts!

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Liz July 28, 2013 at 10:31 am

These came out SO good! I’m so happy especially since Norway doesn’t actually sell buttermilk. I used ‘kulturmjølk’ and it worked great!! thank you thank you thank you :)

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Adrianna Adarme July 28, 2013 at 10:32 am

Oh how wonderful! YAY!

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LunaCafe August 10, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Beautiful, so high and flaky. …Susan

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Sandie October 1, 2013 at 9:30 am

I’m careful about what I feed my family, so it doesn’t make sense to make store-bought biscuits that are ARTIFICIALLY flavored when it is so easy to make them fresh! Because it’s fall, I used a pumpkin cookie cutter and a heart cutter cuz I love them. The ones I cooked in the oven are wonderful. Now for the experiment of taking the uncooked ones out of the freezer and putting them on top of the creamy broccoli and chicken casserole…. Will have to let you know how it turns out. Thank you for the wisdom and recipe

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Ly-ann January 4, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Most recipes don’t include an egg in the wet ingredients – why do you add egg?

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Wendy January 31, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Your biscuits look so flaky!! Thank you for sharing your recipe. I can’t wait to try it.

If you’re ever in the Bay Area, may I suggest you head over to Brenda’s in San Francisco, she makes THE most amazing sweet cream biscuits. I’ve tried to reverse engineer them but no such luck. : (

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tropical kitchen June 20, 2014 at 6:25 pm

try a dash or three of cayenne in the dry ingredients for spunky biscuits. I’ll share my results from your recipe. many thanks.

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Jeweliby Castle August 30, 2014 at 12:36 am

Hi there,

As a college kid, these would be marvellous if I could just pop them out of the freezer and toast them. Do you have any tips for making them and storing them for later use? Or would you say that this recipe isn’t really meant for freezing?

Many thanks!

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Adrianna Adarme August 30, 2014 at 11:57 am

Hi! Yes, you absolutely can freeze these. I would recommend rolling out the dough, cutting it and then putting it on a baking sheet (separated) and sticking that in the freezer for about 1 hour. This should flash freeze them. Then I’d transfer the almost-frozen biscuits to a freezer-safe plastic bag and sticking them in the freezer until you’re ready to bake them off. You might need to bake them a few minutes longer but it should work out just great!

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