Are you searching for the best, flakiest buttermilk biscuit recipe? Do you love the thought of layer upon layer of light, fluffy, buttery dough with a crisp exterior?? Well, they are here!!
Hello all!! I’m back from a brief haitus while getting MARRIED!! 🙂 Truly the best time, we could not have asked for more. We’re finally getting back to normal life and work now.. and also, cooking! Somehow, it’s already time for the holidays soon. I’m definitely a sucker for the holiday season- heavy family and friend time, movie specials, and of course, lots of mashed potatoes and cornbread stuffing and pies!
Oh, and biscuits!! These biscuits and this post are a dedication to my new, best husband.. they’re one of his favorite things that I make. He says they’re the best biscuits he’s ever had… and while he is a biased source, I do have to say, they’re the best biscuits I’ve ever made.
The Best Biscuits!?
I found this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated on The Fresh Loaf a few years ago now, and I was lucky that I did. I don’t know how many times I’ve made these now, and they come out great every time. There are two camps of biscuits- the moist, doughy biscuit, and the flaky, layered biscuit. Both are delicious, but the latter is my favorite kind, and this one is definitely flaky and layered. Plus, they’re actually really good for you!! You can trust me, because I’m a doctor!! (OK I had to use that once on this blog..) They do look angelic though, right??? =D
The Secret = Laminated Dough
OK this recipe is a bit more work than other biscuits, but you get rewarded with layer upon flaky layer of delicious, buttery biscuit 🙂 The method is sort of like a mix between pie crust and puff pastry/croissants, which are both a type of “laminated dough.”
Basically, this is layering butter within dough and rolling it out, then folding it in on itself, and repeating multiple times to create thin, alternating layers of butter and dough. When baked, the water in the dough and butter will evaporate into steam, which puffs up each layer of dough, ultimately leaving delicate, flaky, airy layers. Typically puff pastry and croissants are folded 6 times, creating over 1400 layers of butter and dough!
How to Make These Biscuits
This process is made easier with a food processor! Which is also how I make all of my pie crusts now.
With laminated dough and other pastries that you want to be flaky and light like pie crust, you want to make sure to keep the butter and dough well chilled so the butter doesn’t start to melt and absorb into the dough before baking. You also want to try to minimize how much you handle the dough, and use a good rolling pin which you can roll the dough out using fewer, longer, rolls. Otherwise you will overwork the gluten in the flour, which would make the finished pastry more tough.
I also have a large silicone mat that I use to try to minimize the inevitable mess that will occur. Another thing that helps is putting the dough in between two sheets of plastic wrap while rolling so that way the butter/dough won’t stick to everything, and you can keep the extra flour you add in to a minimum.
The general steps are:
1. Cut butter into cubes.
2. Put flour in food processor, then add butter and process so butter is in smaller bits.
3. Add buttermilk and process to form a ball.
4. Divide the dough into two and form into a small square shape.
7. Fold dough into thirds (like a letter), then fold in the other direction inwards (so it becomes one small square packet of 9 layers).
8. Rest in freezer. Then repeat- roll, freeze, fold, freeze, for 3 total times.
9. Roll out one last time, cut into 9 squares. Freeze one last time.
10. Brush with melted butter, bake, and brush again with butter.
Make sure you do that melted butter brushing step.. because, you want them to be SUPER delicious, right??
Whew!! But, hey, you have amazing biscuits now!! Wasn’t that worth it??
What I usually do is bake some right away, and then freeze the rest so that I can have biscuits ready to go and fresh for the next meal (the baking time and result doesn’t change significantly). You can also just make and store the whole batch in the freezer so they’re ready way ahead of when you need them, to make holiday cooking slightly easier.
So, go forth and make some biscuits!! Your friends and family will thank you later.
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the best, flaky buttermilk biscuits
Are you searching for the best, flakiest buttermilk biscuits? Do you love the thought of a crisp exterior is layer upon layer of light, fluffy, buttery dough?? Then... you better make these biscuits!
- 2 sticks butter, chilled (8 oz)
- 2 tbsp butter, melted used later for brushing the tops
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, chilled (10.8 oz)
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (15 oz)
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt 1 1/2 tsp if butter is unsalted
Put the chilled butter in a medium bowl. Cut into 1 inch cubes. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes while you prepare the dry ingredients.
In the food processor, add the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Pulse a couple times to mix together.
Add the cubes of butter to the flour mixture. Gently stir so the butter cubes are coated with the flour. Pulse ~10 times so the pieces become large pea/marble sized.
Add the chilled buttermilk to the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture starts to come together and form a ball. Try not to over-process.
Transfer the mixture to silicone mat or plastic wrap. Divide into two equal mounds and gently press together to form a small square/ball. Wrap each individually in plastic wrap. Freeze for 30 minutes.
Work with one half of the dough at a time- unwrap the plastic wrap and put another piece of plastic wrap on top to sandwich the dough. Roll the dough into a 6 inch by 6 inch square.
Take off the top layer of plastic wrap. Use a bench scraper or spatula to help release the dough from the bottom plastic wrap. Use the bottom piece of plastic to help you fold the dough over into thirds, like a business letter. Then fold in the opposite direction inward to create a small square of 9 layers.
Re-wrap with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes.
Repeat the rolling, folding, freezing steps, for 2 more times (total 3 times).
Roll out one last time, to ~7 inch by 7 inch square. Use your bench scraper or a floured knife to cut into 9 equal squares. Place onto baking sheet with parchment paper, at least 1-2 inches apart, and freeze one last time.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Melt the extra 2 tablespoons of butter and brush the tops of the still frozen dough.
Bake until the tops are a golden brown, around 20 minutes. Brush one more time with the melted butter. Enjoy!
- Adapted from The Fresh Loaf- original recipe source Andrew Janigian, Cook’s Illustrated, Sept-Oct 2015
- The dough can be kept in the freezer in a sealed bag or container for several months.