Everybody loves biscuits. There’s no arguing with this statement. I’m not talking about the flat, sweet, crunchy things that folks on the other side of the Atlantic call biscuits (although those are good too), I’m talking about flaky, buttery, American-style biscuits. If you’ve never had one of these fresh out of the oven, you haven’t lived.
I’ve made a lot of rolled biscuits in the past, the kind where you roll out the dough and cut circles out with a cutter, but lately I’ve taken to drop biscuits. They get their name from the fact that are formed by taking rough scoops of dough and dropping them onto a sheet or pan; no rolling pin necessary. Drop biscuits require less work and therefore less handling, which – for me at least – results in a lighter texture. They are also more versatile than their rolled cousins, and they do rather well with additional ingredients mixed in like cheese or hunks of bacon.
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 cup buttermilk …give or take a bit. More on this later.
” If Satan has a favorite drink, it’s buttermilk “
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. If you happen to be using a cast iron drop biscuit pan, preheat it with the oven. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Now we need to incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients, probably the trickiest bit of the whole process. The most straightforward way to go about it is just to plop the butter as-is directly into the flour mixture and go to work with a pastry blender. If you don’t happen to have one of these (and even if you do), this step can be a pain in the arse. You can try chopping up the butter before dumping it into the flour and using table knives or forks to work it in, but it’s a tedious process. Or………
Optional super-cool way of doing things
Put your 1.5 sticks of butter in the freezer and leave them there for several hours, preferably overnight. Put a cheese grater in there as well.
Yes, you read that correctly. Put a cheese grater in the freezer. I’m serious.
When the butter is frozen solid, carefully remove it from the wrapper, handling it as little as possible. Using your icy-cold cheese grater, quickly grate the butter into the dry ingredients and mix them together. If you have trouble with the butter clumping together, put your dry ingredients in the freezer for 30 minutes first.
Regardless of which method you use to get the butter worked into the dry ingredients, you should end up with a coarse, crumbly-looking mixture with pea-sized lumps of butter. If you want to include additional ingredients (e.g., cheese), now is the time to add them. If this is your first time making drop biscuits, I recommend sticking with the basic recipe to get a better feel for things. Either way, it’s now time to add the buttermilk.
Before we go any further, let me just say that buttermilk is NASTY. Don’t ever try it straight up. My friends and family will tell you that I’m grossly exaggerating things, but don’t listen to them. Buttermilk is one of the most horrific things I have ever tasted – my first tentative sip gave me nightmares for a week. It’s like rotten milk mixed with motor oil and rattlesnake venom. If Satan has a favorite drink, it’s buttermilk, I’m sure of it. It’s a mystery to me how such a repulsive ingredient can make such delicious biscuits, so I’m just going to chalk it up to magic and move on with my life.
Earlier, in the ‘ingredients’ section, I mentioned that you should use one cup of buttermilk, give or take a bit. What I mean by this is that the exact amount of liquid you should use cannot be easily determined ahead of time. When it comes to recipes like this one, it’s far more important for the dough to have the right consistency than to use a precise measurement. As my grandmother used to say when teaching me recipes, “Add enough until it’s right.” So, one cup of buttermilk is probably about the right amount, but don’t be alarmed if you need to add a bit more to make the dough firm up correctly.
Use a measuring cup if it makes you feel better, but I don’t even bother with one. Pour some buttermilk into the dry mix and stir it in gently, being careful not to over-work the dough. If you mix the bejesus out of it, your biscuits will turn out chewy and manhandled instead of flaky and light, so use a gentle hand. It will soon be apparent if there is not enough liquid in your dough because it will be powdery in areas and won’t want to hold together. Add another splash of buttermilk – no more than a tablespoon at a time – and turn over the dough a few more times with your mixing spoon. Keep adding liquid as necessary until you get a single, sticky mess of thick dough that stands up all by itself in the center of the bowl.
Now comes the fun part. Drop quarter-cup lumps of dough onto a baking sheet (or your preheated drop biscuit pan) and bake for 15 minutes.
When the tops of the biscuits are golden brown and toasty, they are ready to consume. Serve them hot and with plenty of butter, sausage gravy, honey, jam, or whatever your heart desires.
- 5 Ingredient Basic Biscuits
- Blue Cheese and Bacon Drop Biscuits
- Pumpkin Buttermilk Drop Biscuits with Brown Butter
Standard Recipe Disclaimer
I don’t come up with a lot of my own recipes (unless you count my own personal milk-to-Grape-Nuts ratio), and chances are the recipe posted above belongs to or was inspired by a person other than me. So if you’re wondering whether or not I ripped somebody off, I probably did. Don’t get out the pitchforks and torches just yet though! I want to make absolutely sure I give credit where it’s due, so if you think someone deserves recognition for something that I haven’t already called out FOR CRYING OUT LOUD LET ME KNOW. Thanks, I appreciate it. Here’s a cookie.