Sunday, November 20, 2011

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

Homemade biscuits are much easier to accomplish than some of us would like to believe. Making biscuits from scratch is very affordable, too; with just a few low-cost pantry ingredients that you probably already have (and if you don’t, you should!), a batch of homemade buttermilk biscuits can be whipped up in a jif.

Plus, they're versatile; buttermilk biscuits are a great way to enhance breakfast or dinner. Let’s take a moment to reflect on some popular biscuit-based dishes:

  • Ham and biscuits
  • Sausage biscuits
  • Biscuits and gravy
  • Chicken fried steak and biscuits
  • Biscuits and jam
  • Biscuits and honey
  • Dog biscuits (just seeing if you’re paying attention)
I’ve tried several recipes for homemade biscuits, and this one combines two of the most reputable biscuit authorities known to man: 1.) a baking powder biscuits recipe from The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, enhanced by 2.) an oil-coating technique that comes from none other than the legendary Knotts Berry Farm biscuit recipe. Ironically, you may find that this combination produces biscuits that taste like another famous buttermilk biscuit recipe: Kentucky Fried Chicken biscuits. No joke!

One additional technique that rounds out this recipe comes from yours truly. We’ll call it “Flipping a Biscuit.” It exists for the purpose of guaranteeing your biscuits cook to a golden brown on both sides (in other words, it’s the best way to make sure your biscuits don’t burn). Basically, it just entails flipping your biscuits halfway through baking. There aren’t many other homemade biscuit recipes that recommend this, but don’t be fooled: Failing to flip your biscuits can result in burned biscuits, especially if this is your first time. We could all use some good advice for our first time, right?

Here’s my recipe for homemade biscuits:

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup shortening (or 5 1/3 tbs. margarine)
1 ½ cups buttermilk 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Using an electric hand mixer, cut in shortening or margarine until mixture resembles course crumbs. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture. Add the buttermilk. Using a fork, stir until moistened.

Gather dough into a ball and knead gently, folding and pressing until smooth (try not to overwork). On a wax paper sheet dusted with flour, roll dough to ½ inch thickness. Cut with a 2” or 2 ½” biscuit cutter. Coat a baking sheet with a shallow layer of vegetable oil (about ½ cup, a little more if you need it to completely coat the surface).

Place biscuits on oiled baking sheet (about an inch apart - do not allow them to touch). Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and use a spatula to quickly flip each biscuit. Return to oven and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and quickly remove biscuits from sheet to prevent burning. Transfer to plate. Makes 12 biscuits. 

Making biscuits from scratch can be done quickly once you get the hang of it, and it’s a great baking activity for kids to help with too. Also, this recipe can be halved if you’d like. A dozen biscuits is quite a lot for some families; but on the other hand, biscuits at dinner can always mean leftovers for breakfast, and vice versa. Then again, your family may make pigs of themselves eating homemade buttermilk biscuits (like mine). If so, you can always make more tomorrow!

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