Start to Finish: 1 hour
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Flavorful, flaky biscuits can be made with just three primary ingredients when you include self-rising flour. Use a low-protein flour to develop the least amount of toughening gluten during mixing. Adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking, this recipes incorporates cold butter to create bits of fat in the dough that melt during cooking, leaving pockets of air and resulting in fluffy biscuits.
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- 3/4 cup buttermilk, plus 1 to 5 tablespoons as needed
- Herbs, cheese or spices, as desired (see Variations)
In a large bowl, rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles large crumbs. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Remove the bowl from the freezer and create a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour the buttermilk into the well. Use a fork or your fingers to toss the flour with the liquid until it begins to come together and appears shaggy. Do not over-mix. If the dough appears too dry, mix in additional buttermilk, one tablespoon at a time.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gather together in a ball. Lightly press the dough into a rectangle and dust the top with flour. Fold the dough onto itself four or five times. Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes.
Press the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle, twice as long as it is wide. Use a chef’s knife to cut into eight squares, pressing straight down with the blade. Do not drag the blade.
Arrange the biscuits evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Serve immediately or remove to a cooling rack.
- For circular biscuits, pat dough into a circle and use the top of a glass to cut out the biscuits as close together as possible to maximize the space. You can combine the scraps and cut additional biscuits, but they will not be as fluffy as a result of extra handling.
- Do not use a rolling pin to stretch your dough because it will make the biscuits tough.
- If self-rising flour is unavailable, sift together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. For fluffier biscuits, use cake flour instead of all-purpose when preparing your self-rising flour.
- Biscuits will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to four days. For longer storage, arrange unbaked cut-out biscuits on a tray and freeze for 1 hour. Move the biscuits to a zippered freezer bag and keep in the freezer for up to one month. Thaw the biscuits in the refrigerator overnight or on a baking sheet for 20 minutes before baking.
- Substitute shortening or lard for the butter, if desired.
- Replace the buttermilk with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt and 2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk and 2 tablespoons each chopped fresh dill and parsley.
- Add 1/2 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese, 1/2 cup diced roasted red peppers and 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or basil.
- Add 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, 1/4 cup chopped cooked bacon and ground black pepper to taste.
- Replace 1 cup self-rising flour with 1 cup whole wheat flour plus 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt.