While necessity has dictated that I make them on occasion, I have never loved biscuits. My heart lies with the wonderful flavor of yeasted rolls. Of course, chemical leaveners such as baking soda/baking powder have an advantage over yeast in that they are quick. But today’s biscuits take two full hours from start-to-finish; an hour of which is related to chilling the butter/dough to allow for the nice definition of the layers. As biscuits go; these are better than most. The flaky layers lighten the crumb, and they have nice buttery flavor. But biscuits are inherently dry, and they would have been better if I served them with a main course with gravy. 4-1/2 stars for the recipe; ignoring the flaws in my execution.
I have made these biscuits on two different occasions (the pictures are from the second time that I made them). Because it was the second time, I wasn’t reading the recipe as closely and made to errors in execution that affected their flakiness and made them denser than the first time I made them. Still, even at their best they cannot compete with the texture produced by yeast.
- While the recipe calls for King Arthur’s flour; which has a slightly higher protein content along it’s entire line of flour; I used whatever flour I had on-hand. I did substitute one of the cups of flour for bread flour; but the biscuits will come out fine with 100% regular all-purpose flour.
- In Step 4, I forgot to grate the butter directly into the flour. Actually I made this recipe twice, and only forgot the second time. The results were not as flaky.
- In Step 8, After the fifth turn, I accidentally rolled it out into a 9×12″ rectangle again, so I ended up having to give it 6 turns. It resulted in layers being a little too thin (and not as well defined).
- In Step 10, when I trimmed the biscuits, I only trimmed them to make them edges uniform; not a full and uniform 1/4″. The results: where I trimmed away less than 1/4″, those edges did not properly rise and show their flakiness.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time 4:00 PM. Ready at 6:00 PM.
Chris Kimball’s original recipe for is here. My descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour (13 ounces)
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2-sticks unsalted butter (16 tablespoons)
1-1/4 cups buttermilk, chilled (10 ounces)
- Freeze butter for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- After the butter is partially frozen, dip sticks of butter in flour mixture. Hold the box grater directly over the flour mixture and grate 7 tablespoons from each stick on large holes. The grated butter will fall directly into the flour; which will keep each grate as an individual piece. Gently toss to combine. Set aside remaining 2 tablespoons butter.
- Add buttermilk to flour mixture and fold with spatula until just combined (dough will look dry).
- Liberally flour a clean work surface, and turn out dough. Dust the surface of dough with flour, and use your floured hands to press dough into a 7″ square.
- Flour a rolling pin and roll into 9″x12″ rectangle (with the short side parallel to the edge of the counter). Use a bench scraper or metal spatula to fold the dough into thirds like a business letter. Press down firmly on the top of the dough to seal the folds.
- Turn dough 90-degrees and repeat Step 7 four more times (for a total of 5 folds). After the fifth fold, roll into an 8-1/2″ square (about 1″-thick). NOTE: Here is where I accidentally rolled it out and was forced into an extra turn.
- Move dough into the prepared sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and move to refrigerator for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust a rack to the upper-middle of your oven and pre-heat to 400-degrees. I set my 2 tablespoons of butter (that you set aside in Step 4) in a pan over the oven vent to gently melt the butter in preparation for Step 11.
- After 30 minutes, set dough on a lightly floured cutting board (not your counter-top) Use a floured chef’s knife to trim away 1/4″ of dough from each side of square; discard (or form into an extra, mis-shappen biscuit). Cut the dough into 9 squares, flouring the knife after each cut.
- Arrange biscuits at least 1 inch apart on the same parchment-line sheet pan. Brush the tops of biscuits with melted butter.
- Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, rotating biscuits halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown. Allow the biscuits to cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack before serving.