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!”

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

 

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.

The Best Biscuit Sandwich Ever

Banana Biscuits

What to do with leftover Banana Biscuits?

I was alone in the house when I made them, which means, contrary to what one might think, I did not eat them all. I also happened to have a supply of leftover ham. It would not have occurred to me, under normal circumstances, to combine ham and banana. But something told me that it just might work. From that point on, I tried not to think too much.

Cooking is sometimes a little like sports – you have to get in the zone. Let your senses do the work – smell, taste, feel …. bake.

ham swiss butter mustard

Sometimes, if you are lucky, there will be magic. This was one of those times, if I do say so myself. The hint of banana, combined with the smoky ham and sweet/tangy mustard, is perfect. Make some of these for your next party or book club or just a leisurely weekend breakfast at home.

Ham Swiss Banana Biscuit Sandwich

>>> Click here to download a printable version.

Banana Ham Swiss Biscuit Sandwich

(aka The Best Biscuit Sandwich Ever)

Ingredients:

  • 6 large Banana Biscuits
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ½ lb ham, diced
  • 1 cup shredded good quality swiss cheese
  • ¼ cup Honey Baked Ham hickory mustard (or any honey mustard)
  • 4 T. butter, melted, divided into two
  • ¼ tsp. onion powder
  • ¼ tsp. poppy seeds

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Scramble eggs and divide into six parts. Do not overcook the eggs.
  • Slice biscuits. Place bottoms of biscuits close together on parchment paper.
  • Combine mustard and onion powder with 2 T. of butter.
  • Spread mustard mixture on both tops and bottoms of biscuits.
  • Cover bottom halves of biscuits with half of swiss cheese and all of the ham.
  • Spread scrambled eggs over ham.
  • Top with swiss cheese.
  • Put tops of biscuits on top of cheese.
  • Brush tops of biscuits with remaining 2 T. melted butter mixed with poppy seeds.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cheese melts.
  • Remove from oven and run a knife between the biscuits to make sure they are separated.
  • Share them with someone you love.

National Biscuit Month – Top Five Biscuits

In honor of September being National Biscuit Month, I’ve created a list of …

“Wait, there is a National Biscuit Month?” you ask. Yep. That’s what I hear and I’m going with it.

So … I’ve created a list of the top five biscuit recipes I’ve tried since starting this blog. If you would like to make some biscuits and don’t know where to start, pick one of these and you can’t go wrong. Almost all of them are some combination of savory and sweet, with a little spice thrown in for good measure. They are in no particular order.

Buttermilk Yogurt

Yogurt Buttermilk Biscuits

So far, I’d have to say that this is my favorite recipe for “plain” biscuits. They are so light and fluffy and slightly tangy. Perfect by themselves and also an excellent vehicle for any herb or spice that you might want to add. They also turned out to be the perfect cake to use for Strawberry Shortcake with sweetened whipped cream.

Bacon, Brown Sugar

Bacon Brown Sugar Biscuit
This is the biscuit that completely redefined bacon for me. Plain bacon is good. Really good. But bacon that has been cooked with black pepper and brown sugar? Transcendant. Then you mix that into a biscuit? Crazy good food. That’s what it is.

Apple, Basil, Cheddar

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

I love how the creator of these biscuits was so generous in sharing the recipe with me. These biscuits are mostly savory, with a bit of sweetness from the apple. Which is also a bit tart. Wonderful blending of flavors and textures in this one. I may have to make another batch while I still have some fresh basil in the garden.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin Biscuits

These are sweet, but not too sweet. So moist with the pumpkin, and slightly spicy, and a gorgeous color. Something for all the senses. I also love the way the sweet and spicy played off of the fine sausage that I paired with it. That made these magical.

Buffalo Blue Cheese

buffalo blue cheese biscuit

Because sometimes you just need Buffalo flavored . . . anything. These are a unique and tasty way to fulfill the craving.

——-

Now, go, make some biscuits, and let me know how they turned out. And, as always, share them 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.