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!

The Road to Scrumptious Cheddar Dill Beer Biscuits

Cheddar Dill Beer Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

These scrumptious, buttery, cheesy biscuits were the goal, but it took a couple of tries and a bit of heartache to get there. It was humbling, making a bad biscuit. So far, I had managed to elude the problems that so many novice biscuit-makers complain about. I suppose I got a little cocky.

I blame it on “New Kitchen Syndrome.” You know that stage where everything has been unpacked and stowed away, the counters have been cleared, and you should easily, at least in theory, be able to get back to baking again. Except you can’t remember where you put the measuring spoons and the ingredients you need are all in the very back of the cabinet. It is harder to do just about anything you want to do and can make you quite grumpy.

Eventually, I got to this. We are still talking about these Cheddar Dill Beer Biscuits. Buttery, cheesy, and slightly tangy biscuits made with beer instead of buttermilk. They were incredibly delicious and I will tell you how to make them in a moment.

Cheddar Dill Beer Biscuit | Persnickety Biscuit

First, though, we had this. They look pretty good, don’t they? Tall, flaky with a crisp slightly browned exterior. These should be wonderful. I am going to be honest and tell you they were not! They were incredibly dense and heavy and dry. They were edible but only with vast quantities of butter or completely smothered in soup.

Bad Beer Biscuits

So what went wrong? Two things. I forgot the cheese, for one. I was so mad when I realized, then kind of relieved that good cheese had not been wasted on this sub par biscuit. Second, not enough beer. Seriously, I believe the liquid to dry ratio was off, not allowing the beer to connect with the leaveners and help them work their magic. I was so concerned about making the dough too sticky that I made it too dry.

Well, with this little lesson under my belt I set out to make it right. I started again using the same ingredients, just with a little more beer. Despite the fact that I had trouble with the recipe the first time around, it is only a slight variation on my favorite buttermilk yogurt biscuit recipe. Self-rising flour, a little sugar, part shortening and part butter (frozen and then grated). I added grated sharp cheddar cheese and dill, along with a bit of black pepper. Because I did not want to waste a bunch of fresh dill, I got a paste from the produce department. Have you seen this before? It worked really well.

Dill

I mixed it in with the beer before adding it to the dry ingredients. Don’t be afraid to be a little heavy-handed with dill. I have found that it is one herb that can get lost if you don’t use enough. It is also a terrific compliment to the cheddar cheese.

Dill and Beer

The dough was a little sticky but still held together pretty well. I put the cut out biscuits pretty close together.

Cheddar Dill Beer Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

They rose nicely and joined together just enough to keep the sides moist. With a few minutes of baking time to go, I took them out of the oven, brushed them with butter, and sprinkled them with sea salt and a touch of fresh ground pepper. Then I put them back into the oven for a few more minutes.

Cheddar Dill Beer Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

Yes, that is a Yazoo beer – brewed in Nashville! Click on the photo for their site.

They broke apart perfectly and were thoroughly delicious with the slight amount of pepper and perfect melding of cheddar and dill. No additional butter was required and these definitely did not need to be smothered in soup! I felt completely vindicated. Here is the recipe. Don’t let my initial failure scare you off. These really are easy and so worth it when you get it right!

>>> Click here for printable biscuit recipe.

Cheddar Dill Beer Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter, frozen and grated
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 T dill (fresh or paste)
  • 3/4 cup beer
  • Melted butter for brushing tops of biscuits

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the first three dry ingredients.
  3. Add Crisco to dry ingredients and rub with your fingers to break the Crisco up into small, pea sized pieces.
  4. Add grated, frozen butter to dry ingredients and stir to coat butter pieces with flour mixture.
  5. Add grated cheddar cheese to dry ingredients and stir to coat cheese pieces with flour mixture.
  6. If using fresh dill, then add it to the dry ingredients and stir. If using dill paste, mix with the beer in small bowl or measuring cup.
  7. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the beer. Mix quickly with large spoon or hands, turning bowl and gently scooping the dry ingredients into the wet. Add more beer, if needed, to make dough moist but not too wet. It will be somewhat sticky.
  8. Sprinkle flour onto countertop or pastry board. Dump dough out of bowl onto flour. Sprinkle flour onto dough and rub onto hands. Knead a few times. Press dough together and flatten to about 1/2 inch. Fold dough in half. A pastry scraper can be really helpful here to lift up the dough.
  9. Transfer dough to parchment paper. Press out to about 1/2 inch. Make into a rough rectangular shape. Using a pastry scraper, knife, spatula or other edge, cut dough into squares about 1 1/2 inches across. You do not need to move the dough after cutting. Alternately, use a biscuit cutter to cut out rounds. Place them close together on the parchment. Press remaining dough together and repeat.
  10. Put cookie sheet in oven and bake for about 12 minutes, until tops of biscuits are slightly browned. Take the biscuits out of the oven and brush the tops of the biscuits with butter, sprinkle with sea salt and fresh pepper, then return them to the oven.
  11. Bake about 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and let rest a few minutes.
  12. Share with someone you love!

Five Tips for Festive Gifts

The question quickly arose: how exactly do you make biscuits look pretty, festive, and gift-ish?

Pumpkin Biscuits for Christmas| Persnickety Biscuit

I spent quite a while figuring it out. While these tips are about biscuits, they could easily be used for any baked gifts.

  1. Think about the color of the biscuits.  I made pumpkin biscuits, but you could easily use sweet potatoes or cheddar cheese or even beets or orange, to lend a lovely tint and flavor. Also think about adding fresh herbs or fruit or chocolate chips to add a bit of texture and additional color.Pumpkin Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit
  2. Add some sort of spread, like the maple cinnamon butter I made to go with these. You could make a simple honey butter or get more fancy and use a strawberry butter, herb infused butter, or homemade jam.Maple Cinnamon Butter
  3. Carefully choose the containers. I decided it would be nice to have a baking dish that could go right into the oven for reheating, so I got some of these paper baking pans. They look elegant and are also practical. I could bake the biscuits and wrap them in place. I did find that the biscuits stuck to the bottom when I did a test run so I put a layer of parchment into the bottom. I also made a special trip to The Container Store (love that place!) for little containers for the butter.Pumpkin Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit
  4. Go bold with tags, stickers, and wrap. The “tags” that I used were actually cardboard coasters that I found at Target. So festive and bright! I just made a hole in them and pasted the note onto the back. I also found some round stickers that I used on the containers of butter. That added to the color and graphics of the package. The wrap was large cellophane bags from Michael’s. The bags were big, but I think the extra wrap at the top looked really pretty, tied with a bit of ribbon.Pumpkin Biscuits for Christmas| Persnickety Biscuit
  5. Add more information. Tell your giftees exactly what you have given them and what to do with them. People don’t always know the best way to reheat or serve something homemade. Give them some directions. Tell them that these were homemade by you. You want them to look pretty and professional, but you also want people to know that you made them!Pumpkin Biscuits for Christmas| Persnickety Biscuit

Are there things I would do differently next time? I suppose. I think the sides of the baking pans were pretty high. I would get lower ones or just add more biscuits. I would probably brush the tops of the biscuits with an egg wash and sprinkle with salt and pepper or sugar and cinnamon to make them a little prettier. I would make a different flavor, mainly because I like to give different things each year.

I believe the most important thing to remember, though, is that people really do love biscuits and they will be thrilled to get a package of homemade ones that they can just pop into the oven for a treat.

What about you? Do you like to give baked goods as gifts? What are your tips for making them look festive and pretty?

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Biscuits

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Biscuit| Persnickety Biscuit

Lately, I have been waking up at 4:30 am on a regular basis, knowing that attempting more sleep is futile. There is just so much to do. I’ve been sorting through everything in my house, figuring out what to throw away or give away, what to put in storage, and what to move to M’s house. He has been doing much the same, making room for me and my things.

I do try to sleep more but generally give up at 5:30 or 6 and use the extra morning time to get some things done. On this particular morning I decided to make biscuits with my extra time, because that’s what you do when you should really be packing.

Where did this biscuit recipe come from?

Shelton Farms Flour

I had a bag of locally produced whole wheat flour from Shelton Farms that I had been wanting to try. I noticed that it was low in protein, like White Lily. They say that you want lower protein flour (2 g/serving) for biscuits and higher protein for breads, so this seemed perfect.

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Biscuit Dough| Persnickety Biscuit

I also had a Granny Smith apple in the fridge that needed to be eaten. I had been wanting to experiment with shredding apple into biscuits ever since I made the Paige’s Family Biscuit recipe. That one seemed to benefit from the larger chunks of apple in my second making, but I liked how the smaller pieces sort of disappeared into the biscuit in the first making, becoming part of the biscuit and not just an addition to it.

Finally, I have been following a very low tech biscuit making process for some time now. There is something very satisfying about that. Getting your hands into the flour, rubbing the butter. But I do happen to have, and to love, this wonderful food processor and have wondered if and how it might be of use in the biscuit making process.

There you have it – the perfect storm of flour, fruit, and appliance came together to inspire these Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Biscuits.

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

What is persnickety about this biscuit recipe?

It might be difficult to find a whole wheat flour that is low in protein. If that is the case, you may want to try using half of a regular WW flour and half low protein white. I’ve also heard of mixing in part cake flour to add the lightness. If you try one of these options please let me know how it turns out!

Shelton Farms Flour

I also added some ricotta cheese to this biscuit and believe that, and the grated apple, are what makes this biscuit so moist.

So how were the biscuits?

They turned out just as I had hoped they might. Nutty, moist, flaky, slightly sweet, lightly spiced. Perfect warm or cool, with butter or without. Seriously, you could throw one of these into a lunchbox and it would be a perfect snack – no reheating required. I took a couple into the office to share with coworkers and they are still talking about them.

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

How were the leftovers prepared?

I only baked a few in the first batch and those were gone in hours. The remainder were cut out and put onto a cookie sheet to freeze, uncooked. After freezing, they were bagged up and saved.

Later I took them out of the freezer, placed them close together on a parchment lined baking pan, and baked them at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. I did not thaw the dough first. Note that is a lower temperature and longer time than if the dough were fresh.

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Biscuit Dough| Persnickety Biscuit

I brushed a little almond milk on them and sprinkled some cinnamon sugar on top of that before putting them in the oven. The frozen biscuits baked up perfectly. My mother came over to help pack and it was the perfect thing to share with her.

Remarkably, there were still a few biscuits left after that, so I got creative with toppings and constructed this biscuit sandwich.

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Bacon Brie Biscuit

If you want to make something similar, just slice the biscuit in half, put a nice slice of Brie cheese on the bottom of the biscuit, add a layer of cooked bacon and a few very thinly sliced apples, another thin layer of brie, and put the top half of the biscuit back on the stack. Warm the whole thing in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes – or until you notice the cheese getting nice and melty. Yum!

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Bacon Brie Biscuit | Persnickety Biscuit

>>> Click here for printable biscuit recipe.

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups low-protein (2 g/serving) whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon aluminum free baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, frozen and cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup butter-flavored Crisco, frozen and cut into small pieces
  • 1 tart apple, peeled and shredded
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • About ¼ cup all purpose flour (for folding and cutting out dough)

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Put the first six dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse for 20-30 seconds to blend thoroughly.
  • Add butter to dry ingredients and pulse food processor 15-20 times until butter has been incorporated and the bits that remain are about the size of a pea.
  • Add shortening to food processor and pulse 15-20 times until shortening has been incorporated and the bits that remain are about the size of a pea. Transfer to a medium bowl.
  • Using the shredding attachment of the food processor, shred the apple. Add to the dry ingredients and mix to coat the apple and break up shredded pieces so that they are loose in the mixture. You do not want them to all stick together.
  • Combine vanilla, ricotta, and buttermilk in a small bowl. Whisk together.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk mixture. Mix quickly with spatula or hands, turning bowl and gently scooping the dry ingredients into the wet. Add more buttermilk, if needed, to make dough moist but not too wet.
  • Sprinkle flour onto countertop or pastry board. Dump dough out of bowl onto flour. Sprinkle flour onto dough and rub onto hands. Press dough together and flatten to about 1/2 inch. Fold dough in half. Repeat three times. A pastry scraper can be really helpful to lift up the dough. Keep adding a little flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking.
  • Press out to about ¾ of an inch high. Using a biscuit cutter or tin can, cut out biscuits. Transfer to cookie sheet. Place biscuits close together on cookie sheet, or 1 inch apart if you want crispier biscuits. Press scraps together and cut out remainder of biscuits.
  • Put cookie sheet in oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until tops of biscuits are slightly browned. If you wish, take the biscuits out of the oven a couple of minutes before they are done and brush the tops of the biscuits with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then return them to the oven.
  • Remove from oven, let rest a few minutes, then break apart and eat!
  • Share with someone you love.

Apple, Basil, Cheddar Biscuit (Paige’s Family Dinner Biscuit)

Apple, Basil, Cheddar Biscuit (Paige's Family Dinner Biscuit)

Luscious.

That’s what my friend said after I gave her half a dozen of these biscuits as part of her birthday present. There were other adjectives as well, but “luscious” was the subject line of the email she sent me, so that is the one I remember the best. She did not share them with her husband or son, but savored them privately over the course of the week.

Where did this biscuit recipe come from?

If you have not read my previous post, you might want to. The creator of this recipe, Matt Sandbank, was kind enough to give me permission to write about and share his award-winning (International Biscuit Festival) recipe in this blog. When I opened his email, I was really excited about the combination of ingredients, especially the fresh basil, since I have masses of it in my garden. Score!

Basil

These herb scissors are my favorite new kitchen tool.

After my excitement about the chance meeting with this biscuit aficionado and his recipe, I just hoped the biscuits would be good and that I would not botch the making of them!

What is persnickety about this biscuit recipe?

Strangely enough, it was the apple. I ended up making these twice. The first time, M. was assisting. I asked him to chop the apple into small pieces. That he did. Very small pieces. Seemed like a great idea, but the apple sort of got lost in the final product.

Apple, Basil, Cheddar

See how tiny those apple bits are?

The second time I made them, I was careful to create nice sized chunks of apple. That time, you absolutely knew when you were biting into an apple chunk.

The other thing I found really interesting is while the recipe uses self-rising flour, it also has added baking powder. This is the first time I’ve run across a recipe that adds more baking powder. I wonder if that made them more fluffy than they would be otherwise?

Apple, Basil, Cheddar

Larger pieces of apple this time.

What changes were made in the making of this biscuit recipe?

As few as possible. I wanted to represent this recipe well and get as close as I could to how Matt would have made them. I was out of corn meal so did not dust the baking sheet with it for either attempt. That is the only alteration I made to ingredients.

Apple, Basil, Cheddar

Look at all those goodies mixed with the flour.

I used good quality sharp cheddar that I grated myself. Matt specified a Granny Smith apple. I have always loved their tart crispness, so was happy to comply.

The first time I made these I even cut them into rounds and spread them out on the baking sheet, as directed. The second time, though, I reverted to rectangles baked very close together. It has become such a habit to make biscuits this way that I did not even think about it until they were done.

Apple, Basil, Cheddar Biscuit Dough (Paige's Family Dinner Biscuit)

So how were the biscuits?

I am so happy to report that I can understand how they won an award. This recipe is now high on my list of favorites. They were so moist and the basil lent a stunning burst of fresh flavor that worked perfectly with the cheese and the mild sweetness of the apple.

Apple, Basil, Cheddar Biscuit (Paige's Family Dinner Biscuit)

As I said, the apple got kind of lost in the first batch, but I do think it is what made the biscuit so moist, even the next day. I may use that to my advantage in future biscuit recipes.

I took the second batch to a Labor Day cookout and there was a lot of excitement around the biscuits. First, they are just so pretty with the ribbons of basil and melted cheese and slightly toasted tops. And then you taste them. Divine.

Apple, Basil, Cheddar Biscuit (Paige’s Family Dinner Biscuit)

I served them with honey butter and also a peppery, spicy honey butter that could have been a bit spicier. Both worked well with the savory-sweet biscuits.

As the evening wore on, there was this one biscuit that kept getting cut in half and one half eaten, then cut in half again and so on. You know, how no one wants to be responsible for taking the last bit? Finally, I grabbed the last bite and finished them off myself.

Apple, Basil, CheddarBiscuit (Paige's Family Dinner Biscuit)

How were the leftovers prepared?

I’m going to have to start making larger batches or not sharing them so liberally if I want leftover biscuits to play with. There was just one biscuit left the next day from the first batch. I nibbled on it over the course of a couple of days. It was really good – even at room temperature.

Nothing was left from the second batch. I had piled all the dough into one pan, cut it in place, then took the whole pan to the party, so that I could easily heat them up there.

The final word? Make these biscuits. Now. Tonight. This weekend. Then share them with someone you love.

Apple, Basil, Cheddar Biscuit (Paige's Family Dinner Biscuit)

>>>Click here for printable biscuit recipe.

Paige’s Family Dinner Biscuits (from Matt Sandbank)

Ingredients (in order of use):

2 cups White Lilly self-rising flour

1 and 1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder

6 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 cup cheddar cheese

1/2 cup fresh basil, cut finely

1 large Granny Smith Apple, peeled and cut into small cubes

1 cup buttermilk, divided into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup measurements

a pinch or two of corn meal

Method of preparation:

  1. mix flour and baking powder together thoroughly
  2. sprinkle cubes of butter across the top of the flour/baking powder mixture, then use a “pinching” gesture to break down all of the butter cubes into pea-sized or smaller chunks
  3. immediately move flour/baking powder/butter mixture to a cold place while preparing ingredients for step 4
  4. mix cheddar cheese, basil, and apple together
  5. make a hollow in the center of the flour/butter, then add cheese/apple/basil, and then mix evenly
  6. reform a hollow and add 3/4 cup buttermilk, using the 1/4 cup in reserve if needed flour hands and move dough onto a floured cutting board. Flour the top of the dough and fold twice in half before pressing out into a sheet. Dip biscuit cutter into flour and cut out biscuits, taking time to relish the sensation of the cutter slicing through chunks of apple as you do so.
  7. sprinkle corn meal on an oven tray and arrange biscuits with an inch or so between them on the tray
  8. bake at 400 degrees for 16-20 minutes, rotating oven tray at the eight-minute mark.

An Encounter with a Biscuit Star

What are the chances? How do the stars align in such a way as to bring biscuit people together so unexpectedly?

Biscuit Poetry

Biscuit Poetry

Here’s the story. We arrived late to the Yelp event and found ourselves seated next to an interesting couple we had not met before. It was a rather long, drawn out meal with a multitude of courses so we had plenty of time to chat and get to know one another. She is getting her PhD in Special Education. He is a puppeteer. Really. A puppeteer. You don’t run into those every day, do you?

At one point M. and I were talking about biscuits, as we frequently do these days. The husband, who was seated next to me, turned and said, “Excuse me, but are you talking about biscuits?”

“Yes. I am kind of obsessed with biscuits.” I confessed. “I have a blog that is all about biscuits.”

“Have you been to the International Biscuit Festival in Knoxville?” he asked.

“YES! We DID go to the biscuit festival this year!”

At that point, he shared that he had actually competed in the Bake-off at the Biscuit Festival, in the savory category. He won first place in the category! I felt like I was seated next to a star, a Biscuit Superstar. What are the chances? Seriously. I was beside myself.

Biscuit Trophy

Much discussion of biscuits ensued. The proper kind of baking powder (aluminum-free). The variety of biscuits tasted at the festival (like the Pimiento Cheese one). Favorite biscuit places (he recommends Biscuitville in North Carolina). How the Bake-off actually works (prep before you get there). We had to admit that we were so stuffed after sampling all the biscuits at the festival, that we did not stick around for the Bake-off. We will have to change that next time!

Well, he was kind enough to share his award-winning recipe for Paige’s Family Dinner Biscuits and photos from the bake-off. Don’t you just love the eyes and the quotes? I particularly liked the “hyacinths and biscuits” one. It is from Carl Sandburg.

Stay tuned for my next post, in which I will include the recipe and my attempt to recreate these winning savory biscuits!

Biscuits and Quotes

Paige’s Family Dinner Biscuits

Thank you to Matt Sandbank for the photos and upcoming recipe!

Top Five Unexpected Biscuit Lessons Learned [So Far]

All of the biscuit baking and tasting and studying over the past few months has been quite enlightening. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned along the way.biscuits

There are many sites, articles, cookbooks, and blogs that will teach you the basics of biscuit baking, so I decided to share my slightly less traditional advice. Without further ado, here are my top five favorite, but unexpected, lessons learned [so far].

  1. Frozen, pre-grated butter. First of all, if you grate frozen butter, you really have to do very little to “cut it in” or incorporate it into the dry ingredients. Second, you can pre-grate it and store it in batches. The next time you make biscuits and get out the grater and frozen butter, grate a lot of extra butter, divide it up into 1/4 or 1/2 cup portions (measure before grating for accuracy) and throw it back into the freezer for the next time you bake biscuits. The last time I made biscuits, I used butter that I had pre-grated and it was a revelation. It made the whole process so easy and fast.grated butter
  2. Rectangles and squares are good. Who said round biscuits are better? Don’t believe them! Think about it. One of the traditional recommendations for biscuit baking is to not overwork the dough. So when you flatten the dough into one big rectangle and use a pastry scraper or knife to cut it into squares or rectangles, there are no leftover scraps. Therefore you are only “rolling” out the dough once. And those weird, last, misshaped biscuits formed from the remaining cutout scraps are all but eliminated.Pesto Parmesan Biscuit Dough
  3. Parchment paper rocks. I have learned to love parchment paper. It is the perfect venue for baking biscuits (or just about anything else) and can usually guarantee that the freshly baked items will release easily. I keep a roll of it on hand at all times now. Remember that wax paper and parchment paper are not the same.
  4. Cut where you cook. I think the best advice is often the thing that makes you say, “Well, duh! Of course!” Put the just kneaded dough onto the parchment paper, press it out into a rectangle, and cut it into squares right there. No need to cut out and pick up and move each biscuit.

    Sweet Corn Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuit Dough

  5. No fancy tools needed. While I have, and love, a pastry cutter, scraper, mat, and a whole assortment of different shapes and sizes of biscuit cutters, you don’t really need all that. You can cut butter or shortening in with your fingers, knead on your countertop, and cut out the biscuits with a knife or old tin can. Biscuits really are low tech.baking tools
  6. Bonus Item: Freeze raw dough. Everyone knows that the best biscuit is a freshly baked one (regardless of my fondness for toasted leftovers). So cut out all the dough but only bake what you need and freeze the remainder. Then thaw the frozen dough overnight, let it rest at room temp for a few minutes, and bake as directed in your recipe. They may not rise quite as much as the originals, but you still get that great fresh-baked flavor and texture.buffalo blue cheese biscuit dough

Do you have any favorite tips or tricks? Please comment and share!

cheddar herb biscuits

Oh, and if you are still a bit mystified by the basics of baking a good biscuits, here are a few references you might find useful.

  • This is a video of Sean Brock, the famed chef/founder of Husk in Charleston and the newly-opened Husk Nashville. I really like how you can see how he works the dough. It looks so soft and light as he is turning it and incorporating the buttermilk.
  • This blogger provides a wonderful list of the traditional suggestions for biscuit making.
  • Finally, White Lilly, the biscuits flour of all biscuit flours, provides their own tips here.

Now go grate some butter, make some biscuits, and share them with someone you love!

lovely biscuits