Buttermilk Biscuits ... "Heaven's They're Tasty..."

One of the things that I noticed when I traveled in the southern states was that people seem to be so nice compared to Bostonians or New Yorkers.

I've come to realize that they aren't really any nicer than us. They just seem to be because they're so laid back and pleasant in the way they speak.


I think that two of the reasons they are like that are shown in this photograph. Buttermilk Biscuits and Crispy Bacon.


When you eat a couple of hot, fresh Buttermilk Biscuits all slathered with butter or jam along with some crispy bacon... you just might find yourself feeling pretty laid back and pleasant too...


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BISCUITS


There is something about the taste of a hot biscuit that just makes the whole world seem like a much nicer place. If you add bacon to that, well it's pretty much guaranteed to put you in a good mood.


I always thought that biscuits were hard to make because you don't see them around that much in New England, and almost every time I have seen them, they weren't very good. In fact, the only place that I ever had a good buttermilk biscuit was on Martha's Vineyard at a New Orleans style restaurant called Lola's. Unfortunately, I haven't been to the Vineyard in quite a while and I have heard that Lola's is no longer open. This means that as far as I know, I make the only good buttermilk biscuits in New England.


Let me tell you... if the only biscuit that you've ever had came from McDonald's breakfast menu then you are in for a treat with this recipe. It is so simple that it borders on stupid-easy and I wish that I had realized that sooner.


As always, there are things you have to do to make this recipe comes out right.

But there are only two of them that are really important:

  1. Keep everything as cold as possible while you make the dough. That means, Keep the butter in the freezer for about an hour before you cut it up and mix the ingredients.

  2. Work quickly and keep your Hot Hands from softening the butter once you start to knead the dough.

That's it ...! If you do that (and put everything together the way I tell you) you will be really happy with the results.


BACON

I'm not totally certain, but I have always felt that there is no such thing as "Bad Bacon".

There is only "Good Bacon" and "Really Good Bacon".

In spite of that, I do have preferences...

My favorite type of bacon is the thick cut kind. The applewood smoked bacon from Wright Brand is the best I've found locally, although I'm always willing to try something new, so I'd love to hear from you if you know of any better ones.


If you fry it up nice and crispy, put it together with some fresh, hot buttermilk biscuits, you could lock me in the room with them... and feel free to throw away the key.


So I hope you try this recipe and like it as much as Kathy and I do.


NOTE: This recipe makes a lot of biscuits. If you don't want so many leftovers, you can mix up the dry ingredients and the cubed butter, and then put half of it into a freezer bag so the next time you want to make biscuits, all you have to do is just mix in the buttermilk and roll it out.



Ingredients


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 heaping teaspoon coarse salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, chilled

  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, well shaken, plus more for brushing tops

Directions










  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees with racks set in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside for later.

  • Using a WHISK (above left) Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a Large Bowl.


  • **If you have a Food Processor, transfer half of the dry ingredients into the bowl, add the Wicked Cold Cubed Butter and pulse 2 or 3 times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Return this mixture back to the bowl with the rest of the dry ingredients and fold it in with spoon or spatula. OR

**If you want to go old-school, add the Wicked Cold Cubed Butter to the original bowl and CUT it into the dry ingredients with a Pastry Cutter (That's the thing with the black handle in the picture above-right). Keep cutting the butter in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, with the occasional larger pieces still remaining.


NOTE: If it has been more than 5 minutes since the butter came out of the freezer, put the bowl into the refrigerator for 10 minutes before you go on to the next step.


Why is that? The one word answer is FLAKINESS. That's not very helpful to most of us, but if it's good enough with you, then skip to the next step. Otherwise, go to the end of this blog post for the full reason.

  • Make a well in the center and gradually add buttermilk, stirring with a fork or wooden spoon until large clumps form; do not allow a dough to form in the bowl. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface, and using lightly floured hands, QUICKLY knead two or three times to mix the ingredients. Try to use a light touch so your hands don't heat up the butter.

  • Optional Ingredient: At this point, if you are so inclined, you could add chopped fresh herbs (about 4 Tablespoons) to the mixture for a fragrant and tasty "upgrade". Fresh dill, Rosemary or Chives all work well. For me though, the regular plain old biscuit is just fine the way it is plus, the taste goes with everything better ... But hey, feel free to give it a try if you feel adventurous.

  • Roll out the dough to about 2" in thickness. Then, fold it over and roll it again to 1-1/2" thick. If you like square biscuits, roll it out into a rectangle and, using a sharp knife, cut it into 2-inch square biscuits. Or if you have a round biscuit cutter, you don't need to worry about the shape that you roll it out. Just roll 'em and cut 'em.


I don't have a biscuit cutter, so I use my round stainless steel cup or half-cup sized measures as a cutter for biscuits like the ones in the pictures. They say you should dip the cutter in flour so it doesn't stick, but if your butter is still cold, it won't stick anyway.


  • Once you cut them, transfer them to the COLD baking sheet(s), and space them about 2 inches apart. If you like, you can brush the top of each biscuit with some buttermilk to brown the tops s little more.


I just dip 2 fingers into the buttermilk and dab the tops, but, if you are more civilized, you can use a kitchen brush like this one in the pic. They work great for brushing melted butter too




  • All that's left is to put them into the oven and bake them until they are golden brown. About 12 minutes usually.


Okay, it's not all that's left ... You get to eat them now!


The day I took the pictures for this post I made a plain, cheese omelette to go with the biscuits and bacon, and in the same pan, I refreshed some asparagus that was leftover from the steak on the grille the night before. If I didn't do that, I would probably have eaten the entire pound and a half of bacon.




WHY DOES THE BUTTER HAVE TO BE COLD?

Here's an exerpt from an article by Jesse Sparks in Bon Appetit! magazine....

He begins his story of Cold Butter with a story about his grandmother . Once, when he was a kid, he was helping his Gram make dough at their home in Houston, Texas.

She checked his work and felt the soggy, sticky dough and exclaimed ...

You can’t do sh!t if your dough’s too fuck!ng hot.

He thought it was his fault ... but really, it was always about the butter.


My own grandmother may have said something similar, but I didn't understand Portuguese cussing when I was little.


KEEP AN EYE ON THE TEMPERATURE

Keeping the butter as cold as possible is the key to flaky dough whether it be for biscuits or for pastry.


Once you’ve rolled out and folded your dough, those little chunks of butter will generate steam as the dough bakes. This creates pockets of air that puff up into distinct layers. If the butter is too warm, it will mix into the flour too well and this will make the end product tough or cracker-like.


  • Always be aware of the temperature in the kitchen. Especially on hot days.

  • Leave the butter in the freezer while you measure out the other ingredients

  • Chill the bowls and tools

  • If the dough starts feeling sticky, put it back into the fridge or freezer as often as you need

  • Move quickly and efficiently once that butter is out of the cold.

  • Don’t be too gentle... get that butter into the flour ASAP— You can clean up the shrapnel while the biscuits are in the oven.

And that's the story ...





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