Buttermilk Biscuits

(Some days a creative title is just too much to ask…)

Lentil salad and buttermilk biscuits

This weekend continued to be all about the breads here at the Persnickety Palate (or quasi-breads, as you may prefer to categorize my holiday quick breads and the biscuits I’m about to rave about below). Once again, we found ourselves sans milk and bread and perilously low on eggs, so I had to get creative with our meal options on Saturday. We ended up having lentil salad with bacon, and thanks to the half-full carton of buttermilk staring back at me from the fridge, a batch of hot buttermilk biscuits to go along with it.

Buttermilk biscuits

I’ve now tried a few different recipes for biscuits, but when I have buttermilk to use up, this recipe is the clear winner. It is very easy to make, if a bit messy; I’m thinking a quarter-cup cookie scoop would be the perfect tool to streamline this recipe…I’ve been wanting one for doling out muffin batter and big wads of cookie dough anyway. 😉

Back to the subject at hand, these biscuits are super-fluffy and light inside, with a perfectly crisp golden-brown exterior. I adapted them slightly, as has been my wont lately with most baked goods, to use 50% white whole wheat flour instead of just AP. This results in a minor difference in color and absolutely no change in taste, while making me feel slightly less guilty about the melted butter you slather all over the dough before it goes in the oven. No wonder these taste so good!

Buttermilk biscuits

Buttermilk Biscuits

1 C unbleached AP flour
1 C white whole wheat flour
1 T double-acting baking powder
1 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 1/2 C cold buttermilk

1 C unbleached all-purpose flour, distributed in rimmed baking sheet
2 T unsalted butter, melted

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500F. Spray 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Generously spray inside and outside of 1/4 cup dry measure with nonstick cooking spray (or get out a large cookie scoop).

In a food processor, pulse the flours, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda to combine, about six 1-second pulses. Scatter butter cubes evenly over dry ingredients; pulse until mixture resembles pebbly, coarse cornmeal, eight to ten more pulses. Add buttermilk to dry ingredients; pulse a few more times just until incorporated (dough will be very wet and slightly lumpy).

Using 1/4 cup measure and working quickly, scoop level amount of dough; drop dough from measuring cup into flour on baking sheet (if dough sticks to cup, use small spoon to pull it free). Repeat with remaining dough, forming 12 evenly sized mounds.

Dust tops of each piece of dough with flour from baking sheet. With floured hands, gently pick up piece of dough and coat with flour; gently shape dough into rough ball, shake off excess flour, and place in prepared cake pan. Repeat with remaining dough, arranging 9 rounds around perimeter of cake pan and 3 in center. Brush rounds with hot melted butter, taking care not to flatten them.

Bake 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 450F; continue to bake until biscuits are golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Cool in pan 2 minutes, then invert biscuits from pan onto a rack or towel; turn biscuits right side up and break apart. Cool 5 minutes longer and serve.

Source: Cooks Illustrated, via The Amateur Gourmet.

Update 6/12/10: I’ve been making these buttermilk biscuits with a blend of 3/4 C each 1% milk and plain lowfat yogurt, as a substitute for the buttermilk. We always have yogurt on hand, and can’t distinguish any difference in flavor, so this is very convenient. I do have a quarter-cup disher now, and it seriously speeds up the shaping element of the recipe.

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