Saturday, May 7, 2011

Buttermilk Biscuits

Every now and then, Mr. Wendy and I let our pantry get a little bare. We both get busy and stop planning meals. Every morning, we square off, each willing the other to come up with a plan -- any plan! -- for dinner that night. One of us caves, making a lightning run to the Kroger for some sort of pre-packaged convenience food or the ingredients for a one-pot-wonder, and we eek through another day. But the staples slowly dwindle and eventually disappear.

The day after Mr. Wendy's birthday (which we spent out and about), I realized we didn't have anything at all for breakfast. No almond milk for cereal (or cereal, for that matter); no bread or English muffins for toasting; no nothing.

But even in the midst of that rather pitiful food drought, we did have the makings for biscuits. Amen and hallelujah, breakfast was saved!

Biscuits are amazing. They're remarkably simple to prepare (honest), and yet they're so incredibly tasty ... and versatile!

A good buttermilk biscuit has enough flavor (and butter) that it's delicious plain, right out of the oven. But I like to dress them up with a little melted butter and a drizzle of honey or a dollop of raspberry jam. In our (meat-free) household, we use homemade biscuits to make our own version of that fast-food fave, the "sausage biscuit" ... using Morningstar Farms veggie sausage patties as the filling. I also have fond memories of visits to my kin in southwest Virginia: biscuits with creamy sausage gravy and "ham biscuits" (fry up some salt-cured country ham, mix the drippings with black coffee to make red-eye gravy, drizzle the gravy on the inside of a biscuit and top with slices of ham ... not heart-friendly, but dang).

Add a little vanilla and a spoonful of sugar to the mix, and the biscuit becomes the basis for a wonderfully easy strawberry shortcake (just top with macerated berries and a cloud of freshly whipped cream).

The best part? I basically always have the ingredients for biscuits on hand (thanks to the modern miracle of buttermilk mix).

Here's my recipe for flaky biscuits. It takes about 25 minutes, start to finish. (Click on the title for a printer-friendly version.)

Buttermilk Biscuits
Based on a recipe from Sundays at the Moosewood

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbs. buttermilk powder*
6 Tbs. butter (very cold, cut into small cubes)
3/4 c. water

* If you don't have buttermilk powder, you can omit it ... and then replace the 3/4 c. water with 3/4 c. buttermilk.

Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat.

Sift flour, salt, soda, baking powder, and buttermilk powder together in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter.

Add water, and fold with spatula until water is incorporated into flour (some flour will still be dry - don't overmix, or your biscuits will be tough).

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently until dough comes together. Pat into a disk. Cut in half (with a knife or a dough scraper), and set one half on top of the other. Pat dough into a disk again, and repeat three or four times. This process of creating layers of the dough will make the biscuits flaky and will allow them to pull apart neatly.

Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass dipped in flour, cut circles from the dough and place on prepared sheet. Gently gather scraps and press out to create more circles. You should get 10 - 12 biscuits, depending on how big they are.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

** Note: You can add 1 tsp. of vanilla to the liquid and 2 Tbs. sugar to the dry ingredients in order to create a sweet dessert biscuit, perfect for strawberry shortcake.


Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.


  1. And I just *happen* to have buttermilk left in my fridge from a recipe earlier in the week! Yay! Of course I love biscuits--and you're right, they're perfect when your pantry is a little bare. Thanks, Wendy!

  2. I have buttermilk powder but always seem to forget about it. It really does make the biscuits so much more flavorful and tender.
    I think I know what's for breakfast in our house!

  3. Wendy, you sure brought back my "little girl" days back in the hills of Virginia. I remember Granny making buttermilk biscuits every morning. One morning we'd have ham biscuits (she always put a drop of honey on them for us kids) then the next it might be biscuits and gravy. Weekends were the best That was when we got homemade bread french toast. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  4. Sweet post! LOL on that moment when the staples in the fridge dwindle down to pathetic levels-- and buttermilk biscuits are a tasty solution. I'm with you on the red-eye gravy, too. Not exactly diet friendly, but oh-baby what a way to be bad. I haven't tried the buttermilk powder yet, but this is a great recipe to take it out for a spin. Thanks, Wendy!

    Have a delicious weekend,
    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  5. Wendy, as a Southern girl, I too grew up eating homemade biscuits & strawberry shortcake regularly & now they're such a nice occasional treat. Your post brought back fond memories, esp. of the times early in our marriage when my folks moved to North Carolina for a decade,(Winston-Salem) and every time we went to visit we had delicious, salty, country- ham biscuits.

    BTW, your photo of the powdered buttermilk tin is the exact same brand I use for baking, which I mentioned earlier in the week in Elizabeth's buttermilk post.

    Ironically, both my husband's and my own country-side relatives(as opposed to some of the city ones, lol) loved to drink buttermilk, but we're not crazy about it, except for cooking! The powdered stuff is truly wonderful--I keep it in the fridge! Thanks for the post & the memories!

    P.S. I believe you live in our old stomping grounds of Denton, now. Many fond memories of college days there too!

  6. Wow, Wendy, I think your biscuits have struck a chord with a lot of people. They're very big where I live, and I have friends who go out of their way for great biscuits. I'll have to try making them!

    ~ Krista

  7. Wendy, Love biscuits. Have to tweak them for gluten-free, but love 'em! I didn't know there was powdered buttermilk. How 'bout that!


  8. Wendy,
    THanks so much for your "Mother Hubbard's cupboards are bare" go-to recipe!! I have often spotted the Buttermilk in a can at my grocery but haven't bought any as I had no idea what to do with it...well, it is now added to my grocery list!! Strawberry Shortcake will definitely be on this week's menu!


  9. I'm so glad this recipe brought back so many wonderful memories - isn't it great how food does that?

    Lynn, I *am* in Denton! We love it here. The town seems to grow by the day, but it still has that small town charm. :)

    And I love powdered buttermilk! It keeps forever. You just add the powder in with your dry ingredients and then sub water for the milk in the liquid. I use if for biscuits, cakes, you name it.

  10. Sounds delicious, Wendy.