Make. 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.
Biscuits 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.
So 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.
Grating 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.
The 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.
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.
(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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.