I was so thrilled with the way these biscuits turned out I wanted to shout it from the rooftops you guys!
I feel like I've been trying to conquer the world of flaky biscuits since this blog's inception. I've had a few good results here and there, but I've been on the quest for a good, simple, roll and cut buttermilk biscuit recipe since the day I started calling myself a baker. It may have taken 5+ years, but finally, I have one!
Can we just talk about how much these biscuits rose? Nothing that's come out of my oven has ever looked like that. You can immediately see the flaky layers stacked on top of one another. I may have peeked into the oven repeatedly as these baked - ok fine, I do that every.single.time I bake something :) - and done a little happy dance when I discovered these weren't going to be the short, dense biscuits this New England girl usually specializes in making.
It turns out the trick to flaky biscuits is borrowing a technique used to make puff pastry. When preparing the dough for puff pastry, you roll and fold the dough repeatedly creating super thin alternating layers of butter and flour. The heat of the oven melts the butter and results in steam pockets, making the pastry flaky. You do essentially the same thing here - rolling the biscuit dough into a rectangle and folding it into thirds like a business later. My dough was a tiny bit crumbly but otherwise not difficult to work with and the whole process didn't take long at all so if my description is making it sound complicated, rest assured, it's not!
There's even more good news about this recipe; it's from Cooking Light so these biscuits aren't as super indulgent as you might expect. Relatively speaking (I mean, they are still biscuits), there's not a ton of butter in the dough. There's also no refined sugar, honey is used instead. The biscuits are only slightly sweet, in that floral way you only get when honey is used. Yes, the recipe does instruct you to cut the biscuits a little smaller than you typically would, but I found one was plenty for me. Plus, the little biscuits make the cutest breakfast sandwiches! Obviously you could make them any size or shape you want though, so go crazy :)
I think a basket of flaky buttermilk biscuits would be the perfect addition to your Easter meal on Sunday, or to any meal for that matter! I hope you try them, especially if you've had trouble with biscuits in the past. They're foolproof!
Foolproof Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits
from Cooking Light, November 2008
9 oz (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3/4 cup cold buttermilk
3 tablespoons honey
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter cubes, and use a pastry cutter (or your fingertips, if you'd rather) to cut in the butter until the pieces are no bigger than peas - the mixture should resemble coarse meal. Stick the bowl in your refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the buttermilk and honey in a measuring cup. Add to the bowl with the butter/flour mixture and stir gently just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently about 3-4 times to bring it together. The dough may still be a little crumbly, that's fine. Roll the dough into a 9x5-inch rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Fold the dough into thirds like a business letter (using the long sides of the rectangle). Once again, roll the dough into a 9x5-inch rectangle about 1/2-inch thick, and again fold it into thirds like a letter. Roll the dough out to 3/4-inch thickness (the shape doesn't really matter). Using a 1 3/4-inch round cutter, cut biscuits from the dough (don't twist the cutter, use a straight up and straight down motion) and transfer to the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch of space between them. (I gathered the scraps and cut more biscuits once or twice to get as many as possible.)
Bake for about 11-12 minutes, or until the biscuits have risen and are golden brown on top. Remove the baking sheet and transfer the biscuits to a wire rack. Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve warm. Or, if you won't be serving immediately, pop them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds when you are ready.
Makes 12-14 biscuits