Unlike sour cream biscuits, the buttermilk biscuits I make "only" call for butter. No shortening. The result is an intensely nutty flavor; however the biscuits don't rise as much without shortening because of the natural water content in butter. It's a worthwhile tradeoff.
I absolutely love buttermilk biscuits. We don't have them in France, so my first experience with them was in the US. It was quite a revelation. Biscuits are great with gravy, but I find them so flavorful that I often make a batch and eat them as is.
Yields: 25 biscuits4 cups flour (see tips)
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold (see tips)
1-2/3 cups buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
For the dry ingredients:
Reserve about 1 tablespoon of flour for rolling the dough on the pastry board.
In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, cream of tartar and baking soda. Sift all the dry ingredients.
For the biscuit dough:
Dice 2 tablespoons of chilled butter and reserve in the refrigerator while preparing the dough.
In the bowl of a stand-mixer (or a large mixing bowl), place the dry ingredients. Grate 6 tablespoons of butter over the bowl using a cheese grater. Mix the ingredients using the dough hook attachment of the stand-mixer (if you don't have one, the back of a fork works fine as well). Start with the lowest speed of the machine. Mix until coarsely blended and still crumbly. Once all the butter pieces are coated with flour, remove the bowl from the stand-mixer and incorporate the buttermilk and the reserved chilled butter to the biscuit mixture. Do NOT over-mix; otherwise the biscuits will have a dense texture.
Sprinkle the reserved flour over a pastry board and transfer the biscuit dough. Using a rolling pin, even out the dough to about a 1-inch thickness. Create 23 disks using (2-5/8-inch diameter or 68 millimeters) biscuit cutters and form the last 2 disks with the remnants of dough (knead the dough as little as possible).
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Allow to cool a little. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the melted butter over the biscuits. Make sure to coat the entire outer surface.
Place the biscuits on a baking sheet, previously lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Bake for 22-23 minutes.
Serve warm with spiced honey butter (see tips for the recipe).
The traditional way of making baking powder is by combining 1 part of baking soda and 1 part of cornstarch to 2 parts of cream of tartar. Corn starch is often used as a thickening agent in commercial baking powder and is not necessary in this recipe. However, you can always use baking powder if you don't have baking soda and cream of tartar on hand.
For the perfect texture, it's preferable to combine 3 cups of all-purpose flour and 1 cup of cake flour but if you like, you can also use 4 cups of all-purpose flour.
To ensure that the mixture remains cold, it's preferable not to knead the dough by hand.
My trick is to place the butter in the freezer and grate the butter using a cheese grater.
Sifting dry ingredients helps to eliminate nasty lumps of flour and aerates the mixture when liquid is added. It's an important step when baking in order to get a moist result.
I added 1-2/3 cups of buttermilk to thin the dough; you want the biscuit dough to be wet and rather sticky.
How to make ginger honey cinnamon butter: Combine 10 tablespoons of butter (at room temperature), 1/8 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of ginger honey. Mix well. Transfer to a butter crock (or a ramekin that you seal with plastic wrap) and chill it for at least 30 minutes before using. You can store this in the refrigerator up to 2-3 days. Voilà!
I buy ginger honey at the Asian market. If you don't have any, you can use any flavored honey, jelly or jam you like.
An added bonus is that this recipe is completely egg-free, so my sister-in-law who's allergic to eggs can enjoy these biscuits without any worries. It's just another reason to serve fresh from the oven buttermilk biscuits at your next dinner party.Published By: on December 10, 2009.