No Fail Buttermilk Biscuits

No Fail Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

Are you looking for the most light, melt-in-your-mouth, savory, buttery biscuits for your holiday table? Or just for breakfast. Or for no reason at all. Look no further. These biscuits are made using a unique process that transforms the lowly biscuit into a new category of fluffy goodness. They are so easy that I decided to call them “no fail” biscuits. There is no guesswork, no kneading, and simple clean-up.

I stumbled on this recipe when looking for something to make for a friend’s pot luck “Biscuit Brunch.” Blogging about biscuits is fun, but it puts the pressure on when I’m asked to take biscuits somewhere. They can’t just be biscuits. They can’t just be good. They have to elevate the whole idea of a biscuit. So I pulled out the biscuit bible, aka Southern Biscuits by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart. This cookbook is a treasure trove of recipes, history, folklore, and a variety of biscuit techniques.

Southern Biscuits

Why did you choose this biscuit recipe?

The recipe I chose to make is Shirley Corriher’s Country Buttermilk Biscuits, aka “Touch of Grace Biscuits” (link to great video of Shirley). What attracted me to it was the unique “wet dough” method. I had read about shaping the dough while wet, and this seemed like a great time to try it out. I added black pepper and chives to enhance the flavor.

What is persnickety about this recipe?

This recipe is all about technique. You mix up a super wet dough, like this:

No Fail Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

Then you scoop it out and put it into a pile of flour – having an actual scoop really does make a difference here. One of the bonuses of this recipe is the easy cleanup. Instead of getting flour all over your counters, it is contained in the pan you choose. You gently roll the dough in the flour, shape it into a ball in your hands, and put it into your pan, snuggling them all together. You’ll notice that the balls of dough actually feel light and rather delicate. This is a good thing.

No Fail Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

After baking, you brush them with plenty of butter, which makes them look lovely and taste even better.

No Fail Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

So how were the biscuits?

They were fabulous – the texture was light and delicate and the chives gave a burst of flavor. By themselves, they were amazing.  They also turned out to be the perfect vehicle for the sausage gravy that I made. I think I’ll have to do a whole post on gravy some time. Meanwhile, just know that these biscuits and gravy go together like, well, biscuits and gravy.

No Fail Biscuits with Gravy | Persnickety Biscuit
>>> Click here to download printable recipe.

No Fail Buttermilk Biscuits with Chives and Pepper

Adapted from Shirley Corriher, via Southern Biscuits

Makes 12 large or 20 small biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups self-rising flour (White Lily is my favorite for biscuits)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste (optional)
  • 1/4 cup shortening, frozen, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh chives (optional)
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup good buttermilk (I used Cruze Dairy farms)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour, for shaping
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line either 9-inch round or 8 X 10 inch rectangular pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and pepper. Using fingertips, work in the cold shortening until crumbly. It is ok if there are different size lumps, but none should be larger than a pea. Add chives and mix. Then stir in the buttermilk and cream until just incorporated. The dough will be very sticky.
  3. Spread the all-purpose flour onto a cookie sheet. Use a scoop to take about 1/4-1/2 cup of dough and put it onto the flour. An ice cream scoop is great for this. Using your hands, toss the pieces of dough with the flour, coating all sides. Shape into a ball. Place in pan on parchment. The biscuits can be placed close together. Continue until all dough is formed and pan is full.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Biscuits are done when light brown and have a slight “give” when pressed. Brush with melted butter.
  5. Share with someone you love!

Husk Biscuits and Gravy

Biscuits and Gravy

“Have you been to Husk yet?”
“We just went to Husk.”
“We just made reservations for Husk.”
“You just have to go to Husk.”

This is what They said. But did we listen to Them? No. The demands of engagement, moving, and wedding plans sadly derailed much of our adventurous eating out. Months passed.

Then my hip Atlanta cousins came through town for a family wedding. “Have you been to Husk?” They asked. Chastened, we answered that we had not but that we must go for brunch that very weekend.

Hip cousins wisely made reservations. We did not and did not stand much chance of getting a table. So we followed our old dating routine and went straight to the bar, which, although tucked away in a corner of the lower level, was bright and cheerful and, for the moment empty.

Hip cousins hung with us for a Bloody Mary and a fun visit until their table was ready. Then we had to focus on the menu.

It did not take long to decide, once we caved and agreed to order all of the things we really wanted. To start, we went with the biscuits and gravy.

Biscuits and Gravy

I don’t know what I expected, but I can tell you that my expectations were far surpassed. Photos will never do this dish justice. Words cannot adequately describe. This was the most basic of comfort foods accompanied by sophistication and complexity of flavor and texture.

The biscuits were perfect. Fist sized with a slightly salty crust on the outside. Moist and somewhat peppery on the inside. Melt in your mouth. Glorious. Still, it was the gravy that took this dish over the top. I don’t know what kind of sausage they use, but it has an incredibly rich and deep flavor that infused all of the gravy.

The rest of the meal was wonderful, too. M got the Benedict and I had the french toast that seemed to contain everything except the kitchen sink: maple syrup, peaches, blueberries, and whipped cream; bread filled with peanut butter. Somehow, all of these ingredients were balanced so well that they worked together perfectly. Best french toast ever.

French Toast

Now when someone asks, “Have you been to Husk?” We can enthusiastically respond, “Yes! And it was fabulous!”

Persnickety Pins – 6 Biscuits Someone Must Bake

We are almost halfway through National Biscuit Month – that’s right, September is officially the month of biscuits! And all I can think is, “MORE.” We must have more biscuits!

Over the last couple of years I’ve pinned so many recipes that look fantastic, but the time has come to admit that I simply cannot make them all, at least not this year. Perhaps not even in this lifetime. But I can still share them with you.

I’ve culled through my 357 pins and pulled out a few recipes that look particularly unique and delicious and worthy of sharing. While I have not tried them, I did review them carefully to make sure the proportions of ingredients looked correct and the flavor combinations winning. If you should try any of these, please let me know how they turned out!

Chocolate Buttermilk Biscuits from A Cozy Kitchen

Chocolate Buttermilk Biscuits

Lemon Cornmeal Biscuits from Jane’s Adventures in Dinner

Lemon Cornmeal Biscuits

Everything Biscuits from Peas and Crayons

Everything Biscuits

Rosemary Orange Cream Biscuits from Southern Souffle

Orange Rosemary Biscuits

Mexican Street Corn Biscuits from Jessica Webster on Ann Arbor News

Mexican Street Corn Biscuits

Strawberry Black Pepper Biscuits from A Cozy Kitchen

Strawberry Black Pepper Biscuits

Now, go make some biscuits, and share them with someone you love.

 

Chattanooga’s Milk and Honey

Milk and Honey | Chattanooga | Persnickety Biscuit

I’ve spent all of about five days in Chattanooga in the last five years, but you don’t have to spend a lot of time here to get a feel for the place. It is one of those towns that just expresses itself well. It has developed a reputation as a hub for outdoor activity, with an arts district, a renowned aquarium and nicely developing riverfront.

But we are not here to discuss the minutiae of Tennessee cities, are we? We are here to discuss biscuits, which I found at a little place called Milk & Honey just across the river on the north side of town, within walking distance of the aquarium as long as the weather is cooperating. Which, I have to say, it only barely was. When we planned this trip, July seemed a safe bet for a rafting trip down the Ocoee and a weekend in Chattanooga. Sigh. We ended up with cold and rain in some weird summer weather anomaly. No matter. We were on vacation!

Milk and Honey | Chattanooga | Persnickety Biscuit

 

Anyway, Milk & Honey is a totally charming little place. Chalkboard-style menu on the wall, black and white tile, a few tables inside, several outdoor tables, and this great indoor/outdoor bar. The bar stretches along one side of the storefront and is divided in the middle by a garage door. I want one at home. We snagged the last three barstools outside. On this relatively cool day, the door was open allowing for easy and entertaining eavesdropping on our fellow diners. Religion, music, and theater were all discussed and gave us fodder for our own conversation for the rest of the day.

Milk and Honey | Chattanooga | Persnickety Biscuit

One thing I loved is that they actually have a BYOB option. That is, “Build Your Own Breakfast.” See this great assortment of options? They keep a stack of these on clipboards. I kept a blank one for ideas.

Milk and Honey BYOB Menu| Chattanooga | Persnickety Biscuit

M decided on the pre-defined Farmhouse Biscuit with M&H breakfast sausage, Benton’s bacon, tomato jam, egg, arugula, white cheddar, caramelized onions and shallots. I built my own with house-made sausage, egg, white cheddar, sliced apples, and seasonal house-made jam.

So how were the biscuits?
Fabulous! Big, flaky, fluffy, warm and fresh, with a light crust on top that was perfectly lightly salty. They had enough density to be able to hold the supporting cast of ingredients, which were considerable, without being heavy.

Milk and Honey Farmhouse Biscuit| Chattanooga | Persnickety Biscuit

What was persnickety about these biscuits?
The tricky part was trying to fit the whole thing in your mouth. These things were huge! I think I could have left off the egg and it would have been more manageable and not suffered from lack of flavor. The sausage provided perfect spice to counter the sweetness of the jam. And I was really pleased with the apple slices that I decided to add. They provided a wonderful crunchiness.

Build Your Own Biscuit - Milk and Honey | Chattanooga | Persnickety Biscuit

While I loved my biscuit concoction, I have to admit M’s was mighty tasty as well. It was spicier than mine, perhaps because of the tomato jam. It was just more savory overall, which suited M perfectly. In the end, I think we both were very happy with our choices.

Milk and Honey Farmhouse Biscuit| Chattanooga | Persnickety Biscuit

Would you come back here?
Absolutely!

 

Milk and Honey | Chattanooga | Persnickety Biscuit

Simple Shortcuts: Powdered Buttermilk

Banana Biscuits au Chocolat | Persnickety Biscuit

Until now, I have been fairly strict with my biscuit ingredient choices. I choose buttermilk, not the milk and lemon juice substitute many swear by. Butter, not margarine. White Lily flour, not store brand. But there are times you can’t get to the store but you still want biscuits, so what do you do?

The fact is that there are many more variations on biscuit ingredients and recipes than there are readers of this blog, so there are a lot of answers to that question. I decided to test one out that I have not heard anyone else mention: powdered buttermilk.

Powdered Buttermilk| Persnickety Biscuit

This nifty little invention can be found in the baking aisle of your local grocery store – where evaporated, condensed, and powdered milks are to be found. Directions for use are on the side of the container. Basically, a few tablespoons of the mix are added to your dry ingredients. Then water or some other kind of liquid is added at the appropriate time.

Biscuit Dough| Persnickety Biscuit

 

For my experiment, I decided to use my banana biscuit recipe as my base. I used the appropriate amount of powdered buttermilk and mixed it in with the flour. Then I chose almond milk as my liquid, because that is what I had on hand. Besides, I figured the vanilla flavor in the milk would just be a bonus.

Otherwise, I pretty much followed the recipe. Of course, I also used some of the dough to make little chocolate filled pockets because, well, why not?

Banana Biscuits au Chocolat | Persnickety Biscuit

Banana Biscuits au Chocolat

Why choose this biscuit recipe?
This was all about convenience. I had all of the ingredients on hand: the overripe banana, almond milk, and powdered buttermilk.

What is persnickety about this biscuit recipe?
The thing that surprised me was when I added the wet ingredients to the dry. The dough was initially too dry, so I added a little more liquid. Then it seemed like the dough got really wet, really fast. I wondered if there were some kind of chemical reaction with the powdered buttermilk and the liquid that caused this. Do any of you readers know?

So how were the biscuits?
Delicious! We enjoyed a few of them and then the rest were bundled up and left with a friend who was dealing with a family crisis. At the end of all of my recipes, I say “Share with someone you love,” so that is what I did. She reported back that they did not last long in her household.

Banana Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

 

Apple Butter and Biscuits at Sunset Grill

Everyone knows now. If we are at a restaurant and biscuits are on the menu, then I have to order them.

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So far, there have been no complaints.

Last night, we went to Sunset Grill to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Thanks to some connections, we were able to get a table (it is Vanderbilt’s graduation weekend) and a welcome visit from the owner Randy Rayburn.

The seasonal menu had cheddar biscuits and corn muffins with sorghum apple butter. We got a couple of orders and shared them around the table before our meal, which was delicious, by the way.

So how were the biscuits?
Quite wonderful, really. Just thick enough, with a lightly crisp top, and fluffy interior. A bit of salt and cheese to flavor them.

What was persnickety about these biscuits?
The butter, interestingly enough, was the real surprise here. When the menu said apple butter, I was thinking of thick, spiced, cooked down apple butter. But this was fresh butter, lightly sweetened with sorghum, with chopped up bits of fresh Granny Smith apple in it. Brilliant. It really made the dish. I’m definitely going to have to try this one at home.

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Wedding Strawberry Shortcake Bar

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Call it shortcake. Fine. Whatever makes you happy. But you know it looks like a biscuit. A sweet biscuit with strawberries and whipped cream and almonds.

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This was the scene at a wedding I recently attended. In lieu of cake, the bride and groom chose to serve this abundance of fabulous flavors and textures. Brilliant.

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So how was the biscuit . . . er . . . shortcake?
Delicious. Tender and sweet. The strawberries were served in a light syrup that was absorbed by the biscuit and brought the whole dessert together.

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What would you do differently?
I would think of it first. Kidding! I love that this bride and groom thought beyond the traditional wedding cake and did things their own way. It was a beautiful celebration of two special people and the shortcake was just a bonus.

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