“American” Buttermilk Biscuits

August 22, 2012

I’M CALLING THESE “AMERICAN” BISCUITS, simply because there are several English and Australian cooks who visit this site. For them, a biscuit is a sweet cookie. But here in the United States, a biscuit is a savory quick-bread.  Why the nomenclature problem? Ah, that is one of life’s more perplexing questions. Meanwhile, here is the recipe for Buttermilk Biscuits, at least as my grandmother used to make them:

My paternal grandmother was the Buttermilk Biscuit Queen. She made them for almost every meal, including the formal affairs she hosted on Sunday evenings. I can still remember her dining table laid with white linen,  blue and white transfer-ware plates, and polished silver. I also remember the biscuits, piled to the sky on a round china platter.

Those biscuits were so soft and warm they felt like a great big hug.

“American” Buttermilk Biscuits
Ingredients for 12-15 biscuits
2 Cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour, scooped and leveled
2 1/2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (4 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (80 ml) butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup (180 ml) buttermilk (or use regular milk)

Pour flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the bowl of a food processor, and process for 5 seconds just to mix.

If you wish to make biscuits as my grandmother did, just whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Cut the butter into a half-inch dice. Then add the butter to the flour, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

My grandmother didn’t need no stinkin’ food processor to cut butter into flour. She used a high-tech gadget call a “pastry cutter.”

I am not my grandmother.

Add the buttermilk, and then stir or process just until the dough holds together.

This is what the dough will look like when it “just holds together.”

Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and knead it gently 10 times. Kneading is necessary in order to improve the texture of the biscuits. Just don’t over-do it. Too much kneading will toughen the dough.

Now, if you are going to use this dough as a crust for Classic Tomato Pie,  simply pat it into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate.

Otherwise, turn the dough into biscuits, by first rolling it to a 1/2-inch thickness.

Then, using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out rounds. You will get at least 12 biscuits out of this recipe.

To keep the dough from sticking to my cutter, I dip the cutter into a measuring cup that contains a little flour.

I hope you enjoyed that helpful hint.

Arrange the biscuits about 1-inch apart on a baking sheet. You do not need to line the baking sheet with parchment, as I did. My baking sheet is too stained for photographs.

I’m going to follow the advice of many readers, and try to clean all of my baking sheets the next time I hit the “self-clean” button on my oven. My only concern is that the directions which came with my oven dictate that the racks should be removed before cleaning. Should I trust those directions?  Your input is greatly appreciated.

Bake the biscuits until they are puffed and golden — 10-12 minutes. And then serve them while hot.

The biscuits will beg you to open them up, and spread them with butter. Or with butter and honey.

Today, I’m serving fresh-from-the-oven biscuits with butter and strawberry jam. Who’d like a taste?

As proof that I love you, here’s a copy-and-paste version of the above recipe:

“American” Buttermilk Biscuits
Ingredients for 12-15 biscuits
2 Cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour, scooped and leveled
2 1/2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (4 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (4 grams) salt
1/3 cup butter (80 ml), cut into small pieces
3/4 cup (180 ml)  buttermilk (or use regular milk)

Preheat oven to 450F. By hand or with the help of a food processor, blend dry ingredients together. Then cut or process the butter into the dry mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and stir or process just until the dough holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead the dough gently 10 times. Roll to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with floured 2-inch biscuit cutter. Place on ungreased baking sheet, and bake until puffed and golden — 10-12 minutes. Serve hot.

Think you’ll try these buttermilk biscuits? You can let me know by leaving a comment. As always, I love to hear from you.

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Related Posts:
Perfect Popovers
Whole Wheat Pita Bread
English Cream Scones

Comments

  1. My mouth is watering, seriously. I think it was the last 2 photos that did it.

  2. Rosemeri says:

    Oh, man. That looks so good that I gotta go make some right now. I love biscuits. Thanks Kevin

  3. Debby says:

    A warm biscuit with butter and honey is my most favorite thing in the world. “If” you have any left over biscuits split them and broil them with butter and cinnamon sugar for breakfast the next day, mmmmmm

  4. Am loving your tomato pie so much. I just use bisquick to make a crust. Re oven racks in self cleaning oven – I left mine in – it doesn’t hurt them but they are no longer shiny.

  5. Jeanne says:

    Gonna have to try your recipe, they are so much taller and fluffier than mine!

  6. Marilyn says:

    Great Kevin. I’m going to try these with the King Arthur gluten free multi purpose flour that I bought. Then I’m going to use it for your Classic Tomato Pie!! Thanks!!!

  7. Janice from Nanoose Bay – Thanks for the heads-up regarding oven-cleaning. I’ll try it with the racks (and also the baking sheets) in place.

    Marilyn – Hope you’ll let me know how these work out with the King Arthur GF flour mix. I’d like to serve biscuits to my gluten-intolerant partner.

  8. stamperitis says:

    Kevin, I didn’t remove my racks and it took the finish off them so they are no longer nice and shiny. Other than that there was no difference.

    With your baking pans though if they have a teflon type coating they let off a poisonous gas if you heat past the recommended temperature. This can kill birds, and make other pets and children quite sick. I imagine it’s not great for us adults either.

    If yours do not have a coating then it would probably be a pretty good way to clean them. :)

  9. Donna B. says:

    Oh. My.
    If you could see me right now, I’m salivating.
    You don’t have to ask twice – I’m making these. I believe tonight we’re making Fajitas’… biscuits go with mexican food, right? Maybe if I spread a jalapeno jelly on them… yes, I’ll do that.
    And the floured biscuit cutter? Ingenious. Thank you! ♥

    @ Oven Q: I ran the self cleaning function on my oven *once*…. It terrified me.
    I’ll manually clean it next time. Hehehe.

  10. stamperitis – My oven racks lost their gleam years ago, so no worry there. As for the baking sheets, thankfully none of mine are teflon-coated.

    Donna B. – Biscuits with jalepeno jelly? Go for it!

    The self-clean cycle on an oven can be scary indeed. The door locks…and temperature soars to who knows how many degrees. But what a relief to find all the built-up spills and grease transformed into a tiny amount of ash. To clean the inside glass of my oven door, I lay a very hot, very damp towel over the glass. Five minutes later I remove the towel, and then scrape the grease away with a razor blade. The blade works wonders.

  11. Gloria Duy says:

    I would never leave the racks in during a self clean cycle. I lay a piece of plastic (disposable painting dropcloths) covered in paper grocery bags in the yard, put the racks and any pans or stove grates on it and spray with oven cleaner. They come out shiny and brand new looking. I do this while my oven is self cleaning. My last stove was 15 years old and still looked new.

  12. Sheri Rice says:

    Kevin to clean the oven door glass, a little baking soda paste works wonders. I use it on the toaster oven door too – doesn’t scratch the glass and works like a charm without chemicals or breaking your poor arm. I have an electric oven (I know, boo) and happened to find a nice flexible teflon sheet that goes on the bottom floor of the oven under the heating element. Drips are caught by the sheet, which I then just remove and wipe clean. Easy peasy, no oven cleaning required. I bought one of those for the toaster oven too! If you have a gas oven then just put it on the bottom rack so you don’t block the airflow for the gas and I also read don’t use them if you have pet birds. Who knew. http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=13037604

  13. Glenn from new brunswick via Newfoundland says:

    Try them with thompsons raisins. All you have to do is throw in as many as you want.

  14. Dana says:

    Down Under, we call these American biscuits, scones. Same great taste, afternoon tea with scones.

  15. Mike Hylton (Sarge) says:

    I’m gonna try making these for our supper tonight. They will go good with Roast Beef, Gravy and Veggies! Thanks Kevin!

  16. Mike Hylton – Oh, they will be DIVINE with roast beef, gravy and veggies! Buttermilk Biscuits are delicious sponges for sopping up gravy.

  17. Jess says:

    I’ve spent a year or two perfecting a biscuit recipe, and, after many adjustments, it has turned out very similar to this. :) Now I make large batches of the dry ingredients, and cut in butter-flavored Crisco (to avoid spoiling) with a pastry cutter like your grandmother used. I store it in large ziploc bags in the freezer and keep a small canister on the counter. Just add the milk and bake! We eat biscuits every Sunday so it is a huge time-saver for me.

    As a side note, I’ve just moved a couple degrees farther north an am combatting winter depression. It’s been suggested that I sit in front of a full-spectrum lightbulb for an hour a day. Instead of *just* sitting, I’d like to do some indoor vegetable gardening. Can you point me toward any articles with suggestions about this? Thanks!

  18. Robin Liddle says:

    Thank you for the great recipe for biscuits. My family has a “Big Breakfast” tradition on sundays where we always serve sausage gravy and biscuits. Formaly made from bisquick.
    Your recipe sounds so easy , I can’t wait to try it next Big Breakfast.

  19. Kevin,

    I will be trying the biscuits now that I have found a bread board. I didn’t find a marble board as you use and suggested but I did find, in my attic, an old 25 X 45 X 2 in. maple block cabinet top. I sanded down the underside, oiled it with mineral oil, placed it on my tiled kitchen island and I now have the perfect bread board. I will be making breads! Thanks for your help and all your great ideas.

  20. Anna Lapping says:

    Kevin, it doesn’t matter what your baking pans look like, but be careful about putting them in the self clean cycle of the oven. If they are made out of steel, they’re OK in there, but if they’re made of hard anodized aluminum, which many of the professional ones are, they will not withstand the 750 – 800 degree temp without warping. You might try it with just one if you really want to clean them that way.

  21. [email protected] says:

    Dont leave oven grates in oven when cleaning it. They will never glide in and out smoothly again.

  22. Sandy Evans says:

    Put oven racks in trash bag, add ammonia, tie bag and leave overnight. You will be amazed how they will rinse with water sparkling clean and shiny the next day! I leave them outside and you can use double trash bags to safe guard against leaks. P.S. your bisquits look so good I’m making them right now!

  23. Mary Lou Mayfield says:

    My sister has made these for years with a little twist…. Melt shortening (or use vegetable oil) in your baking sheet to coat bottom. Prop one end of pan up slightly. Lightly drag top of each biscuit through the oil at the “deep” end of the pan and then place on elevated end. Bake as usual. This gives biscuits a nice crunch. I think you could just brush them with oil or butter but after after 60 years it’s hard to change!

  24. Janice in Black Creek, BC says:

    None of your readers have mentioned adding grated cheddar (Any age) or other cheeses to the dry ingredients before adding the wet. Cheese biscuits are a standard here.
    With red or green sweet pepper jelly, or a touch of hot pepper jelly. A good solid soup and cheese biscuits is a wonderful cold day lunch, and always quick and easy for unexpected guests, Or make it Cheese biscuits and a salad with everything in it for a summer scorcher day.
    In 48 years of marriage living all over the place, when the unexpected guests drop by, I can always offer them something from the oven, By the time the coffee has brewed or the tea has steeped, or I carry the lemonade to the arbour, The biscuits/scones (with raisins or currants and a couple of tablespoons of sugar and maybe made with some cream added to the milk for extra richness) are ready to serve as well. Biscuits are one of the absolutely essential necessities of life.

  25. lisa says:

    How are biscuits different than scones?

  26. Melissa in Washington DC says:

    I have been looking for the perfect homemade biscuit recipe to replace my cheating method of Grands to go with my homemade sausage gravy (aka grease gravy). Perfect timing!!

  27. LisaF says:

    Kevin, your biscuits look great! I have never tried to make them; as I doubted that I could ever follow in the footsteps of my Grandma who lived in the mountains of NC. She too made them every day of her life; in a wood burning monstrosity of a stove; served with her own honeycomb. It was heaven on earth. She never measured any ingredients out; I can remember watching her pour the ingredients directly into the flour container in her Hoosier cabinet. Somehow she managed to mix in the exactly right amount of flour by feel. Both she and my mom are gone now; so maybe I’ll have to try my hand at ‘em. Wish I’d been smart enough to have her show me how…

  28. LisaF – Your grandmother sounds a lot like mine. She, too, had a “flour drawer” — it was lined with tin, as I recall. Frankly, after you make a certain bread items enough times, you really don’t have to measure. It’s all in the “feel.” Good for you for wanting to carry on this family tradition of biscuit-making.

  29. Kevin, these biscuits sound and look so much like my grandmother’s biscuits. She lived in Tennessee all her life and made them every day for breakfast and cornbread for lunch and served the leftovers at supper. The only difference, she used self rising flour and didn’t use the baking powder or baking soda. We all loved them. She liked them crunchy.

  30. Renate Städtke says:

    I’m a native Texan who has been living in Germany for 6 years, and I soooo miss having biscuits for breakfast on Sunday mornings. I’ve always been disappointed when trying any baking recipes that I brought with me, while the flour here is not an all-purpose flour, therefore my cakes are never light and fluffy the way they were at home. I believe I will be giving your recipe a shot and will let you know how it goes with 405 Flour from Germany. Thanks for posting and can’t wait to have warm biscuits with butter and honey!!!

  31. Welcome, Renate – I’d love to hear how these worked out for you with 405 Flour.

  32. Susan Piazza says:

    Hello Kevin,

    Just made these with a chicken sausage gravy and they were heaven !

    Thanks !!!!!

  33. Susan Piazza – You are making me hungry. So glad the biscuits worked out for you.

  34. Susan Piazza says:

    Just took the last couple of biscuits and smeared fresh Irish butter and honey from a local bee man :-) OMG ! Soo good !!

  35. filza munir says:

    hey . ur recipe is creatt :) but i wanna know smething .. there’s no sugar in it so they are not sugary biscuits then ? plus normal milk would do the trick rite ?? never tried these cookies but i really want to and ur recipe again is amazinggg :)

  36. Hanna from South Africa says:

    Just made these and they are great! Used a locally produced cultured milk called emasi as buttermilk and they were wonderfully light and fluffy :) thanks

  37. Kristine says:

    There’s nothing about dieting on vacation, in and of itself to be afraid of. Again, when you have no energy then usually people try to lose weight and why it’s even harder to lose
    pounds. Avoid drinks that are high in fat!

  38. Leah Whicker says:

    In Australia, we call these buttermilk scones :)

  39. Carol says:

    In NZ we call them scones too. Lighter and fluffier made with buttermilk but thats expensive here. I make savoury ones with finely finely chopped onion,grated tasty (strong) cheese and freshly ground pepper mixed with ice water or sweet ones with a teaspoon of sugar and chopped dates….delicious hot from the oven/ Love your site Kevin

  40. Sheri Svyerson says:

    They were heaven! I ate 6 right off the pan.

  41. La Contessa says:

    OKAY!< I GOT IT NOW!I just have NEVER used that product!!!I made with the PHYLLO DOUGH and it was VERY GOOD!I can only imagine with the proper crust………think I'll try again tonight as there is nothing left!Boys flew in as it came out of the oven!

  42. La Contessa – Wow – the pie was delicious with a Phyllo dough crust? That’s great news!

  43. Julie says:

    Kevin, thanks for the recipe. After many holidays in the US my daughter has becoe addicted to biscuits. The scones we have here in the UK just won’ t do. She describes the biscuits as “little drops od heaven”.

  44. Candi says:

    Scones vs Biscuits
    As a southerner who is of scotish descent, I can diffinitively say that southern biscuits and scones are two different baked goods. A scone is denser and sweeter than a biscuit. Scones are usually a coffee or hot tea break treat. They something you might have anytime before mid afternoon. Biscuits are a light, unsweetened, bread item eaten with any meal and used, among other things, to mop up any gravy or juices left on your plate. You can use biscuits for anything you’d use a roll for. However, biscuits lighter and more crumbly than rolls, and as any southerner will tell you, biscuit just taste and eat better.

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