flakiest buttermilk biscuits

April 14, 2011 | 13 comments

flakiest buttermilk biscuits

Every two months I am greeted with one of my favorite subscriptions that my mother wisely presented me (with no subtle hints) for my birthday and with each magazine I spy out every single recipe and determine to make all the recipes within its pages. And though I would share all of them with you, because let’s face it, they nail every single recipe with very carefully thought out execution, this website, I’m afraid would end up being the re-hashing of Cooks Illustrated — though that would save you all from having to pay to subscribe to their endless recipe catalog on their website, right? However, this current magazine that I received all of two days ago  I have read, and currently am going back through to make a more thorough examination (read: it is sitting faithfully on my night stand waiting for all the dog ears and sticky tabs to mark the pages and be unavoidably damp from my drooling mouth.)

ingredientsthin buttery shreds
smushed and smeared butter flakesbutter shards

Things like barbecued chicken kebabs coated with bacon paste — drooling already — pub style burgers with crispy shallots and blue cheese — can’t say no when their last recipe was astonishing to say the least — foolproof crepes with bananas and nutella – something I still need to master, and have determined that I do not have enough nutella in my diet, seeking the perfect balanced diet as always  — Indonesian fried rice, strawberry pie, an easy chart and guide to cooking greens, the list really could go on.

buttermilked doughdough on a precise floury counter
dividingmore butter

As I said, I will be making all these bacon smeared meats and nutella stuffed crepes for myself, and instead chose to make their biscuit recipe I have been holding on to for the the last five years for us both. Shame on me, I know. But at least you don’t have to go the rest of your days without it, because I’m giving it to you now, all of it’s flaky buttery buttermilk-ness. You can even eat them like I do: a pat of salted butter and a drizzle of honey on top. You’ll end up thanking me instead of having a biscuit grudge against me, I know it.

steamy flaky biscuitsmy favorite way

Biscuits previously: Buttermilk Honey Biscuits from which my childhood memories were formed, and Salami and Scallion Biscuits, the stud-biscuits of any table.

One Year Ago: Tabbouleh

Flakiest Buttermilk Biscuits
From Cooks Illustrated, Jan/Feb 2006

CI note: The dough is a bit sticky when it comes together and during the first set of turns. Set aside about 1 cup of extra flour for dusting the work surface, dough, and rolling pin to prevent sticking. Be careful not to incorporate large pockets of flour into the dough when folding it oven. When cutting the biscuits, press down with firm, even pressure; do not twist the cutter.

My note: Me in my haste to have biscuits, forgot to fold the dough into thirds the second time. Even with just the first round of third-ing dough, they still came out super flaky — even more flaky if you do both sets of dough third-ing.

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus additions for work surface
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, lightly floured and cut into 1/8-inch slices, plus 2 tablespoons melted
1 1/4 cups cold low fat buttermilk

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat to 450-degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Add shortening to flour mixture; break up chunks with fingers until only small, pea sized pieces remain. Working in batches, drop butter slices into flour mixture and toss to coat; pick up each slice of butter and press between floured finger tips into flat, nickel-sized pieces. (Meg note: the butter just wanted to break into little pieces when I pressed between my fingers. I found that placing the butter in the palm of one hand and using the heel of my other hand I pressed and smeared the butter into thin shards, then tossed them into the flour, gently mixing everything together with my fingertips.) Repeat until all butter incorporated; toss to combine. Freeze mixture in bowl until chilled, about 15 minutes.

Spray a 24-inch-square area of work surface with nonstick cooking spray; using a paper towel spread the spray evenly across the work surface. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of extra flour across sprayed area; gently spread flour across work surface with palm to form thin, even coating. Add all but 2 tablespoons of buttermilk to flour mixture; stir briskly with fork until ball forms and no dry bits of flour are visible. adding remaining buttermilk as needed (dough will be sticky and shaggy but should clear sides of bowl.) With rubber spatula, transfer dough onto center of prepared work surface, dust surface lightly with flour, and, with floured hands, bring dough together into cohesive ball.

Pat dough into approximate 10-inch square; roll into 18 by 14-inch rectangle about 1/40inch thick, dusting dough and rolling pin with flour as needed. Using a bench scraper or thin metal spatula, take the top edge of dough and fold it down until the edge reaches the middle of the rectangle. Fold the bottom edge upward until the edge meets the top edge, ultimately folding your dough into thirds. Brush any extra flour from surface. Now take the left edge of dough and fold in toward the center. Take the right edge and fold over to the other edge of dough, again folding into thirds. Your rectangle should approximately be 6 by 4-inches. Rotate dough 90-degrees, dusting work surface underneath with flour; roll and fold dough into thirds again, dusting with flour as needed.

Roll dough into 10-inch square about 1/2-inch thick; flip dough and cut nine 3-inch rounds with a floured biscuit cutter, dipping cutter back into flour after each cut. Carefully invert and transfer rounds to a baking sheet, spaced 1-inch apart. Gather dough scraps into ball; roll and fold once or twice until scraps form smooth dough. roll dough into 1/2-inch-thick round; cut three more 3-inch rounds and transfer to baking sheet. Discard extra dough.

Brush biscuits with melted butter. Bake without opening oven door, until tops are golden brown and crisp, 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool slightly then serve with butter and honey.

Freezer Directions: Place raw cut biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in freezer until hard. Store in zip-lock bag. When ready to bake, place frozen biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Conversions & Equivalents

Volume | Baking | Metric | Pan Size | Temperature | Oven | Other

1/2 teaspoon = 30 drops
1 teaspoon = 1/3 tablespoon OR 60 drops
3 teaspoon = 1 tablespoon or 1/2 fluid ounce
1/2 tablespoon = 1 1/2 teaspoons
1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons or 1/2 fluid ounce
2 tablespoons = 1/8 cup or 1 fluid ounce
3 tablespoons = 1 1/2 fluid ounces
4 tablespoons = 1 1/4 cup or 2 fluid ounces
5 1/3 tablespoons = 1/3 cup or 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon
8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup or 4 fluid ounces
10 2/3 tablespoons = 2/3 cup or 10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
12 tablespoons = 3/4 cup or 6 fluid ounces
16 tablespoons = 1 cup or 8 fluid ounces or 1/2 pint
1/8 cup = 2 tablespoons or 1 fluid ounce
1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons or 2 fluid ounces
1/3 cup = 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon
3/8 cup = 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
1/2 cup = 8 tablespoons or 4 fluid ounces
2/3 cup = 10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
5/8 cup = 1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons
3/4 cup = 12 tablespoons or 6 fluid ounces
7/8 cup = 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
1 cup = 16 tablespoons or 1/2 pint or 8 fluid ounces
2 cups = 1 pint or 16 fluid ounces
1 pint = 2 cups or 16 fluid ounces
1 quart = 2 pints or 4 cups or 32 fluid ounces
1 gallon = 4 quarts or 8 pints or 16 cups or 128 fluid ounces
FLOUR
1 cup all-purpose flour = 5 ounces or 142 grams
1 cup cake flour = 4 ounces or 113 grams
1 cup whole wheat flour = 5 1/2 ounces or 156 grams
SUGAR
1 cup granulated white sugar = 7 ounces or 198 grams
1 cup packed brown sugar = 7 ounces or 198 grams
1 cup confectioners sugar = 4 ounces or 113 grams
COCOA POWDER
1 cup cocoa powder = 3 ounces or 85 grams
BUTTER
4 tablespoons = 1/2 stick or 1/4 cup or 2 ounces
8 tablespoons = 1 stick or 1/2 cup or 4 ounces
16 tablespoons = 2 sticks or 1 cup or 8 ounces
32 tablespoons = 4 sticks or 2 cups or 1 pound
1/4 teaspoon = 1.23 milliliters
1/2 teaspoon = 2.46 milliliters
3/4 teaspoon = 3.7 milliliters
1 teaspoon = 4.93 milliliters
1 1/4 teaspoon = 6.16 milliliters
1 1/2 teaspoon = 7.39 milliliters
1 3/4 teaspoon = 8.63 milliliters
2 teaspoon = 9.86 milliliters
1 tablespoon = 14.79 milliliters
2 tablespoons = 29.57 milliliters
1/4 cup = 59.15 milliliters
1/2 cup = 118.3 milliliters
1 cup = 236.59 milliliters
2 cups or 1 pint = 473.18 milliliters
3 cups = 709.77 milliliters
4 cups or 1 quart = 946.36 milliliters
1/4 teaspoon = 1.23 milliliters
4 quarts or 1 gallon = 3.785 liters
PAN SIZE VOLUME CAN SUBSTITUTE WITH
1 8-inch round cake pan 4 cups

1 8x4-inch loaf pan

1 9-inch round cake pan

1 9-inch pie plate

2 8-inch round cake pans 8 cups

2 8x4-inch loaf pans

1 9-inch tube pan

2 9-inch round cake pans

1 10-inch bundt pan

1 11x7-inch baking dish

1 10-inch springform pan

1 9-inch round cake pan 6 cups

1 8-inch round cake pan

1 8x4-inch loaf pan

1 11x7-inch baking dish

2 9-inch round cake pans 12 cups

2 8x4-inch loaf pans

1 9-inch tube pan

2 8-inch round cake pans

1 10-inch bundt pan

2 11x7-inch baking dish

1 10-inch springform pan

1 10-inch round cake pan 11 cups

2 8-inch round cake pan

1 9-inch tube pan

1 10-inch springform pan

2 10-inch round cake pans 22 cups

5 8-inch round cake pans

3 or 4 9-inch round cake pans

2 10-inch spring form pan

9-inch tube pan 12 cups

2 8-inch round cake pans

2 9-inch round cake pans

1 10-inch bundt pan

10-inch tube pans 16 cups

3 9-inch round cake pans

2 10-inch pie plates

4 8-inch pie plates

2 9x5-inch loaf pans

2 8-inch square baking dishes

2 9-inch square baking dishes

10-inch bundt pan 12 cups

1 9x13-inch baking dish

2 9-inch round cake pans

1 9-inch tube pan

2 11x7-inch baking dishes

1 10-inch springform pan

11x7x2-inch baking dish 6 cups

1 8-inch square baking dish

1 9-inch square baking dish

1 9-inch round cake pan

9x13x2-inch baking dish 15 cups

1 10-inch bundt pan

2 9-inch round cake pans

3 8-inch round cake pans

1 10x15-inch jellyroll pan

10x15x1-inch jellyroll pan 15 cups

1 10-inch bundt pan

2 9-inch round cake pans

2 8-inch round cake pan

1 9x13-inch baking dish

9x5-inch loaf pan 8 cups

1 10-inch pie plate pan

1 8-inch square baking dish

1 9-inch square baking dish

8x4-inch loaf pan 6 cups

1 8-inch round cake pan

1 11x7-inch baking dish

9-inch springform pan 10 cups

1 10-inch round cake pan

1 10-inch spring form pan

2 8-inch round cake pans

2 9-inch round cake pans

10-inch springform pan 12 cups

2 8x4-inch loaf pan

1 9-inch tube pan

2 9-inch round cake pans

1 10-inch bundt pan

2 11x7-inch baking dishes

2 8-inch round cake pans

8-inch square baking dish 8 cups

1 9x5-inch loaf pan

2 8-inch pie plates

9-inch square baking dish 8 cups

1 11x7-inch baking dish

1 9x5-inch loaf pan

2 8-inch pie plate

Water Freezes 32°F 0°C
  40°F 4.4°C
  50°F 10°C
  60°F 15.6°C
  70°F 21.1°C
  80°F 26.7°C
  90°F 32.2°C
  100°F 37.8°C
  110°F 43.3°C
  120°F 48.9°C
  130°F 54.4°C
  140°F 60°C
  150°F 65.6°C
  160°F 71.1°C
  170°F 76.7°C
  180°F 82.2°C
  190°F 87.8°C
  200°F 93.3°C
Water Boils 212°F 100°C
  250°F 121°C
  300°F 149°C
  350°F 177°C
  400°F 205°C
  450°F 233°C
  500°F 260°C
275°F = 140°C or Gas Mark 1
300°F = 150°C or Gas Mark 2
325°F = 165°C or Gas Mark 3
350°F = 180°C or Gas Mark 4
375°F = 190°C or Gas Mark 5
400°F = 200°C or Gas Mark 6
425°F = 220°C or Gas Mark 7
450°F = 230°C or Gas Mark 9
475°F = 240°C or Gas Mark 10

And for conversions that are not listed I found a great conversion calculator here!

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  1. These look incredible. And, you should bond with my step-mom over Nutella. She is bonkers about the stuff. I’m sure if you brought her a sample of your nutella ice cream, you would probably get a parade. I’m serious.

  2. My favorite recipes always seem to come from Cooks Illustrated and ATC… anybody who does THAT much playing around with a recipe before they publish it knows what they are talking about. These look great!

  3. Great pictures. Those biscuits look perfect.

  4. These are magnificent. I’ve never seen that technique – brushing the biscuits with butter.

  5. Mmmm…I love me some hot buttermilk flaky biscuits drizzled with honey!! Yumm!

  6. I have biscuit envy. Wow. These look glorious! And bacon paste!? I can not WAIT for that! Thanks so much for sharing :)

  7. I made your scallion/salami biscuits before and loved it! I will keep this too.
    I have been reading the CI magazine at the bookstores but have not pulled the plug for a subscription yet. Torn between Bon Appetite, Fine Cooking and CI.
    I need to go find your Nutella Icecream recipe now!:)

  8. You’re good! These look wonderful and I’d love them on my Easter table. I hope you have a great weekend. Blessings…Mary

  9. Wow, so flaky! Your pictures are seriously making me regret this detox! Guess I’ll just have to dream about them instead!;D

  10. What a gorgeous blog! This is my first time visiting, I will definitely be adding The Red Spoon to my list of Daily Reads. Fantastic!

  11. Just found your blog today and really like it. Scrumptious biscuits!

  12. I love that folding technique you have there! I’ll have to try it. Here’s a biscuit tip I read: If you place biscuits on the baking sheet 1-inch apart, you’ll get crusty sides; if you place the biscuits almost touching, you get soft sides. (One of those things that makes sense, but you never really think about). *smile*

  13. These even work with all whole wheat flour and no shortening.
    I put the flour in the cuisinart with the salt, baking soda and powder and whirled it a bit to mix and to get the flour finer. I substituted butter for the shortening and whirled that in the cuisinart, too. Followed everything else the same. I will add a little sugar next time to make them old fashioned scones. Thanks for the tip on the freezer…we ate too many when I baked all of them.

 

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