Frozen Butter Biscuits

froze9Make. These. Biscuits. If you take anything from this post, make the biscuits. Trust us. The extra step is a bit of a fuss, but the biscuits you get are just sooo much better. And they are still biscuits. Easy to make, easy to enjoy and welcome by just about anyone who can take some gluten in their diet. If bacon is the one reason many people can’t go fully vegetarian, we bet that biscuits keep a few folks from going fully gluten-free or paleo.

froze1Biscuits are something of an obsession here at the farm, we always enjoy playing with new recipes and techniques (biscuits are one of the few dishes Carolyn and I both bake- and yes, hers are better). You can play with the flour (AP or pastry / “00″), liquid (milk, buttermilk) or fat (butter, shortening), but the real issue comes down to temperature and technique. In the end you want the fat to stay cold so it layers through the dough and to mix the dough as little as possible to keep from activating gluten in the flour. If you do it right, you get a moist, light and flaky biscuit. Pure alchemy. Joy….and then maybe a nap.

froze2froze3So how do you do it right? One recipe we like is to use includes pastry flour and then chills the dough before baking (see here). The only bummer with this method is the extra wait before you cook. The other proven method is to grate frozen butter directly into the dry ingredients as you make the dough. This keeps the butter cold as you make the dough- and then you can go right into the oven. The only fuss here is making sure to keep a big chunk of butter in the freezer (we do) and the actual grating, which takes a few minutes and a little elbow grease. It’s worth it.

froze5froze6frozeGrating frozen butter as a way to get perfect biscuits has been around for a while. Recently it was made famous by Pine State Biscuits in Portland and Chef Michael Smith, but as far as we can tell, the method (or the suggestion of frozen butter) has been a staple for home and professional cooks since we got freezers. If grandma had a “secret” to her biscuits, frozen butter might have been it.

froze7The recipe we adapted is from Kevin Gillespie’s “Fire in My Belly“, a fun cookbook of southern-influenced cooking along with some quirky, original dishes. But the recipe could have come from a number of sources. As it is, we suggest you try the recipe, or at least adapt your recipe to use grated frozen butter. Like we said: Make. These. Biscuits.froze8

Frozen Butter Biscuits:

(Adapted from Kevin Gillespie)

Notes Before You Start:

  • The recipe says to grate 7 ounces of butter, but we suggest you freeze a larger piece(s). It is hard to grate butter and unless you want to shred your knuckles, it is a good ides to have some extra to hold on to.

What You Get: Awesome biscuits. Need we say more?

What You Need: No special equipment required.

How Long? About 40 minutes, plus the time to freeze the butter. Anytime dish.

Ingredients:

(Makes about a dozen biscuits)

  • 4 cups (20 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3 (1 1/4 oz.) tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 (3/4 oz.) tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons (1/2 oz.) salt
  • 14 tablespoons (7 oz.) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 2 cups (14 oz.) buttermilk

Assemble:

  1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Add all the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Grate in the frozen butter, gently mixing in the butter a few times during the process.
  2. Stir in about 3/4 of the buttermilk and then gently mix / fold it into the batter until the mixture just comes together into a crumbly dough. If too dry, add the rest of the buttermilk, as needed.
  3. Dust a clean work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Gently knead the dough until it just forms into a ball and then roll out the dough into a 3/4 inch thick slab.
  4. Using a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter, cut straight down into the dough and punch out your rounds and place them on a baking sheet(s). Form any extra dough into biscuits by hand.
  5. Place the biscuits in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, rotating the pan(s) halfway through baking, and until golden brown on top. Remove the biscuits from and let them rest on a rack for at least 5 minutes (they will finish cooking inside). Serve warm with butter and jam.
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51 thoughts on “Frozen Butter Biscuits

  1. You’ve taught me something new today…grating frozen butter. Sounds like an ideal way to distribute the butter evenly throughout the dough as well as keeping it very cold. I’ve got to ask some of my southern-bred neighbors if they use frozen butter in their biscuits. Thank you for the great tip!

  2. I always grate half the butter for my pie crusts, and use larger chunks for the rest. I can see why it’d work equally well for biscuits! Awesome reminder on older, forgotten techniques. Also, if your butter is really, REALLY solidly frozen, you can use the grater attachment on a food processor to do the work (helpful when you’re making 600 biscuits for a party.

    • Thanks- we do need to try the processor, but I assume we would need to chill the blades to keep it cold? That said, if you have to do a lot of biscuits the box grater by hand would be a bummer….

      • I’ve done it both with and without chilling the blades. My home is generally on the cool side, which keeps things from being too melty. I just do it quickly, then pop the shaved butter into the fridge or freezer til I need it!

  3. I wonder if you could use the suggestion above to grate a bunch of butter in a food processor and then keep the grated butter frozen so you could easily make these any time.

    • I don’t see why not- as long as you keep the butter in an airtight container. The grated butter will have more surface area so it will absorb more off/other flavors. So the container would be the way to go…

  4. Mind. BLOWN. I always keep at least 2 packages of butter in the freezer (running out of butter is one of my worst culinary nightmares), but I have NEVER thought to grate butter directly into dough. How brilliant! Can’t wait to make these!

  5. I am a huge fan of buttermilk biscuits and I usually crumble the butter in the dough while holding the bowl in the freezer so this concept of grated frozen butter makes sense to me. I am definitely trying this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Just thought I’d drop by and tell you that it’s breakfast week at school, I’m in charge of the biscuits tonight and I’ll be using this recipe! Chef said he already has a bunch of butter grated for me.

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