Buttermilk drop biscuits

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.

Skip to the short version

THESE are biscuits. End of story.

THESE are biscuits. End of story.

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.


Ingredients

  • 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.


Directions

” 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.

Guess what we're going to do next.

Guess what we’re going to do next.

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.

I bet you've never seen grated butter before, have you?

I bet you’ve never seen grated butter before, have you?

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.

It's not an exact science. Just get your dry mix to look more or less like this.

It’s not an exact science. Just get your dry mix to look more or less like this.

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.

And this is what biscuit dough should look like.

And this is what biscuit dough should look like.

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.

They don't have to be pretty. In fact, it's better if they aren't.

They don’t have to be pretty. In fact, it’s better if they aren’t.

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.

It's all worth it for this one buttery moment.

It’s all worth it for this one buttery moment.




tl;dr

Buttermilk drop biscuits

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 1-1.5 cups buttermilk


Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Incorporate butter into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or by grating butter while frozen. Add buttermilk until all dry ingredients have been incorporated. Drop quarter-cup lumps of dough onto a baking sheet or preheated drop biscuit pan and bake for 15 minutes.



See also


A bacon and cheese variant I made recently. They did not suck.

A bacon and cheese variant I made recently. They did not suck.


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.


No-knead Dutch oven bread

I love bread. There, I said it. Bread is one of those foods I just can’t get enough of, especially when it’s fresh out of the oven. For some reason, people like to pretend as though bread is no big deal, a behavior reinforced by phrases like “Man does not live by bread alone.” The truth of the matter is that all humans love the stuff way more than they’re willing to admit.

Skip to the short version

” Cut a slice of piping hot bread as fast as you possibly can “

Another strange thing about bread is that everyone thinks it’s hard to make. Yes of course it can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. This recipe in particular uses four ingredients, takes maybe 10 minutes of hands-on time, requires zero know how, and costs about a dollar. Believe it or not, bread is one of the very first things I learned how to cook as a kid, preceded only by grilled cheese and pasta. Don’t get me wrong, I am hardly a master baker, nor do I truly understand the science behind what happens when you mix things together and stick them in the oven. What I am good at is finding a recipe or two I like and making them over and over until they come out right. This particular recipe is an improvement over an old one I used to use. It’s sourced from The Merlin Menu, and it has never let me down.

Before we go any further, let’s get this Dutch oven thing out of the way. About half of you reading this post are still giggling just from seeing the title, while the other half of you don’t understand what’s so funny. The phrase “Dutch oven” has a double meaning, you see. The original, more traditional meaning refers to a versatile type of cooking pot. The more recent and far more hilarious definition involves flatulence, bed sheets, and often a very angry spouse. If you’re interested in the details, I’ll let you read about it for yourself. Trust me though, it is pretty funny.

The less amusing version of a Dutch oven.

The less amusing version of a Dutch oven.

Back on topic… One of the keys to making good bread is keeping the dough from drying out while it bakes. Professional baking ovens have steam injectors that help create wonderfully moist bread with why-doesn’t-it-turn-out-like-this-at-home crust. Since most of us don’t have professional baking ovens, we’re going to cheat. A Dutch oven (Go ahead, get your giggles out of the way. I’ll wait.) creates its own steam when you bake in it, resulting in amazing bread and humorous recipe write-ups alike. Any type of Dutch oven will do (except the funny kind), but make sure yours can handle temperatures of 450 degrees F. Some Dutch ovens have plastic knobs that will need to be replaced before you try this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 package dry yeast (preferably Fleischmann’s original)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees F)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour


Other stuff you’ll need

  • a Dutch oven
  • a mixer (or a mixing bowl and wooden spoon)
  • plastic wrap
  • parchment paper
  • opposable thumbs
  • consciousness


Directions

If you have a mixer, attach the dough hook and turn it to the lowest speed. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water (I prefer to mix the yeast with a spoon in a smaller, separate container to make sure it’s fully dissolved) and pour it into the mixer. Slowly add two cups of flour, then the salt, then the final cup of flour. When the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, it’s done.

This dough is ready for greatness.

This dough is ready for greatness.

Tightly cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for six to eight hours. If you want to have this bread with dinner at 5pm, you’d better get the dough mixed by about 9am.

Don't go too much over eight hours or the dough will sometimes deflate a bit.

Don’t go too much over eight hours or the dough will sometimes deflate a bit.

After rising, the dough will be very loose and bubbly. It’ll be pretty darned sticky as well, but don’t worry about that. Lay down a sheet of parchment paper and dust it with one or two tablespoons of flour, then “pour” the dough into the center of the paper. Just turn the bowl upside-down and use a rubber scraper to separate the dough from the bowl along one side – it will pull itself out the rest of the way. Dust the top of the dough with more flour to keep your fingers from sticking to it and start pulling and tucking under the edges to form a rough ball.

Yep, it's a ball alright.

Yep, it’s a ball alright.

It doesn’t have to be perfect; none of us here are Martha Stewart. As you might have guessed from the subtle and cleverly written title of this recipe, you are not required to knead the dough at all. Once you have achieved something vaguely ball-like, cover it with a dish towel and allow it to rise for another hour.

Preheat your oven with the Dutch oven inside it to 450 degrees F. Once it’s fully preheated, remove the Dutch oven (carefully) and, using the parchment paper like a hammock, place the dough ball inside it, paper and all. Take a sharp knife and make three slits on the top of the dough – this either allows steam to escape or makes a fashion statement, I’m not sure which.

Dutch oven bread, apparently sponsored by Adidas.

Dutch oven bread, apparently sponsored by Adidas.

Put the lid back on the Dutch oven, put the whole thing back in the full size oven, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes, or until you have achieved a mouth-watering golden brown color.

It's ok to admit that this makes you hungry.

It’s ok to admit that this makes you hungry.

At this point, every other baking recipe I have ever seen says “allow to cool”. What a monumentally stupid suggestion that is. Why on Earth would I do that? That’s like saying “Allow your tires to go flat before driving your car.” I just don’t get it.

Because this is MY food blog, I’m going to tell you to cut a slice of piping hot bread as fast as you possibly can, slap a giant wad of butter on it, and send it down the hatch. Now cut another slice, add another wad of butter and this time a drizzle of honey as well, and send that one down the hatch after the first one. Dee-flippin-licious.

You are now officially allowed to proclaim that you a baker, and that you love bread. Enjoy.

Fresh bread, real butter, and lavender honey. Beat that.

Fresh bread, real butter, and lavender honey. Beat that.



tl;dr

No-knead Dutch oven bread

Ingredients

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees F)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour


Other stuff you’ll need

  • a Dutch oven
  • a mixer (or a mixing bowl and wooden spoon)
  • plastic wrap
  • parchment paper


Directions

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Slowly add 2 cups of flour, then the salt, then the final cup of flour. Continue mixing until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 6 to 8 hours. Lay out a section of parchment paper and dust with flour. Scrape dough onto paper and form into a rough ball. Cover with a dishtowel and allow to rise another hour. Place empty Dutch oven and lid in conventional oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Place dough ball and parchment paper in Dutch oven, cover, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove lid and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove bread from oven, allow to cool slightly, slice and serve hot.



Experimental pizza roll

I nearly named this recipe “pizza doh” because it really didn’t look like it was going to turn out, but in spite of itself it ended up being something humans can eat. My better half described this recipe as “a fun way to eat pizza”, and I think that description is spot-on. The entire process of preparing this was equal parts recipe and experiment, and the results were favorable enough that I’ll be making this again.

Skip to the short version

” The tube detonated with a doughy ‘wump’ “

As usual, I did not come up with this idea myself. I was not influenced by any one recipe – simply browsing through dozens of “pizza roll” and “rolled up pizza” recipes available on the interwebs was enough to get an idea of what to do.


Ingredients:

  • 1 tube Pillsbury pizza dough
  • 1 metric ton shredded mozzerella
  • 1 gaggle pepperoni (I’m pretty sure they come in gaggles. If not, they should)
  • green olives to taste (Read: The whole jar.)
  • olive oil
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 jar premade pizza sauce


Directions:

Set your oven to 375 degrees F.  Lay out a sheet of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and mentally prepare yourself to open the tube of pizza dough. I know that opening the tube sounds simple, but it didn’t go so smoothly when I tried it. Perhaps it would have helped if I had read the directions, or perhaps I am exceedingly sub-par when compared to whatever Pillsbury considers to be the lowest common denominator. Regardless, when I pulled the little triangular tab, the tube detonated with a doughy “wump”, shredding the pristine sheet of rolled up pizza dough that was once inside. Super. If this same exact thing happens to you, welcome to the slow class – there’s an available seat right here next to mine. Do your best to patch together the tattered dough remnants into something vaguely rectangular and place it on the sheet of foil.  Try not to dwell on this humiliating moment.

Add a layer of pepperoni directly onto the Frankendough, covering as much area as you can.  Next sprinkle some shredded cheese…. No, not sprinkle. Sprinkle is too small of a word to describe how cheese is applied. Heap some shredded cheese on top of the pepperoni in an even layer. Wait, you’re saying. WAIT. Where’s the sauce?? Aha! That’s all part of the plan. The sauce comes later. Much later. For now just keep your socks on and do what I say.

Add any other toppings you like at this point, namely green olives. Lots of ’em.  I’m not sure if any other pizza toppings actually exist, but if they do feel free to use them I guess. You can also dash a bit of Italian seasoning over the top of everything as well, and maybe add some garlic powder and Parmesan if you’re feeling extra sassy.

It ain't pretty, but even an ugly pizza can be a good pizza.

It ain’t pretty, but even an ugly pizza can be a good pizza.

Starting at one of the shorter sides, carefully begin rolling up the whole mess into kind of a large mutated burrito.  Lightly rub the top with some olive oil and a dust bit more Italian seasoning on top to help hide the horrific scars.  Stick it in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

I don't remember putting a hand grenade in this before baking it.

I don’t remember putting a hand grenade in this before baking it.

Ah. Well this is awkward. Quickly, cut the roll into slices before anyone notices that the whole operation has gone pear-shaped.  At this point, just pretend like everything that has happened so far has been according to plan.  The more confident you seem, the less likely guests will be to question your methods.

Serve the roll slices with some warmed up pizza sauce (for dipping) and try not to burn off all the flesh from the roof of your mouth.

Well hey, that didn't turn out so bad afterall.

Well hey, that didn’t turn out so bad afterall.



tl;dr

Experimental pizza roll

Ingredients:

  • 1 tube Pillsbury pizza dough
  • 1 metric ton shredded mozzerella
  • 1 gaggle pepperoni
  • green olives to taste
  • olive oil
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 jar premade pizza sauce


Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Open tube of dough and lay on a flat surface. Layer on pepperoni, cheese, olives, and any other toppings you like. Roll up dough and pinch trailing edge against roll to seal. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle Italian seasoning on top. Bake for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Slice roll and serve with heated pizza sauce.