10 Secrets to Buttery, Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

When I told my husband that I was making some biscuits, he didn't say anything.  Then he mumbled something.

What did you say?
"I really don't like biscuits."
How come?
"They are dry and crumbly."

I assured him that THIS time, the biscuits are NOT coming from a box.
They are going to be homemade...

I searched high and low over the Internet and settled on Food Wishes Buttermilk Biscuit recipe.   Chef John has an excellent three minute video that is worth watching ~

You can use cold buttermilk or sour milk.

Kitchen Tip:  You make sour milk by putting in 1 T. of lemon juice or vinegar in a measuring cup.  Fill the cup with enough milk to reach 1 c.  Let the milk sit for 5 minutes and ta-da!  You have sour milk!

For this recipe, I opted to use SaCo powdered buttermilk.  It keeps well in the fridge and I always have it on hand.

All purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and powdered buttermilk are mixed in a large bowl.

The recipe calls for UNsalted butter, thinly sliced and then frozen.
I had a cube of frozen salted butter, which sliced up nicely.

A pastry blender works great.  If you don't have one, use a fork or two knives to cut the butter into pea sized pieces.

Add a cup of cold water, (or the cup of cold buttermilk)...

Mix it with a spatula until all the pieces come together.

Crumbly is o.k. ~ do not overmix the dough.

Handle the dough as lightly as you can.

Fold it into thirds, like a letter.

Does anyone send letters anymore?

Fold it into thirds again, in the other direction.

Fold into thirds again, for the last time.

Flour your hands if you need to.
Roll to 3/4" layer (or pat with hands).

Use a 2 1/2" biscuit cutter or drinking glass.

Push straight down....do not twist.

Why?  You get a biscuit with straight sides.

Put a thumbprint in the middle.

Why?  Helps 'em rise straight.

I put thumbprints in all of them....should've left some alone to test out the theory...

Brush with buttermilk.

This is NOT buttermilk.  It is butter.  Salted butter.  Keep reading to see why this is a mistake...

These puffed up high and light....

This one was made from scraps.

I decided to be 'gentle' and just push the scraps together.

Didn't work so well, huh?

Next time, knead the scraps together and re-roll them.

The verdict?

Light, fluffy, flaky....

"Did you make these with salt water?" my son asked.

I took a bite.  Yikes!  Waaaaaaay too salty.

My mistake(s)?

I used SALTED butter when the recipe called for UNsalted butter.  Did you know that SALTED butter can have anywhere up to 3/4 t. of salt?

This recipe calls for 1 t. salt with UNsalted butter.  I nearly doubled the salt by using salted butter.

I also brushed the tops with salted butter, instead of buttermilk.  Oooops!

Please, please, do not make the same mistakes I did.

So you want the secrets?

1.  COLD Buttermilk.  Tenderizes the dough.
2.  Fresh baking soda and baking powder.
3.  COLD UNsalted butter.
4.  Gently handle dough.  Overworking = hockey pucks.
5.  Folding the dough = flaky layers.
6.  Push straight down with cutter; do not twist!
7.  Thumbprint in middle.
8.  Brush with buttermilk, prior to baking...

Chef John from Food Wishes suggests making these biscuits about a dozen times.  I have made these biscuits several times, getting better each time.  It is a recipe worth perfecting and enjoying.  Thanks, Chef John!

 Buttermilk Biscuits
(4x6 recipe download)   (full page printable recipe)

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