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!
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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!

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.

A Memorable Memorial with Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Biscuits

Sweet Corn Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits

Sweet Corn Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits

On July 4th, I went to a Happening. No, that is not some kind of supernatural event . . . well maybe it is. In this case, it was a gathering of artists, friends, and fireworks enthusiasts; a tribute to beloved artist and Vanderbilt Professor Don Evans, who died a few months ago.

Don was known for opening his home, gathering people together, and encouraging everyone to “do something.” Make something. Participate in some way. While I never knew Don, I was honored to attend this event and be able to Do Stuff in his honor. I was a little nervous, though. What would this thing be like?

First, it turned out to be a reunion of sorts, as many memorials/funerals are – I saw people there that I had not seen in years, which was a wonderful surprise. Beyond that, there were different activities going on all over the property – in the barn, the house, the yard. There was a variety of simultaneous art projects; screenings of Don’s films; the release of a huge whirligig made of an airplane wing and a rocket while we all sang a song called Hard Work; the distribution of ashes; and sharing of stories about Don.

The evening ended with a fireworks show that was truly unlike anything I had ever seen before – a fireworks hat on top of a sculpture and a whole tower of spinning fireworks. Participants had spent many hours constructing it and shielding it from the rain that came and went all day. It was truly a unique celebration of a man’s life.

fireworks

Fireworks Sculpture

As one might expect, there was lots of food. Everyone brought something, from chips, to hummus, to salad, to an amazing chocolate cake. I know it is shocking, but . . . I brought biscuits. Sweet Honey Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Biscuits to be specific.

Sweet Corn Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits

Where did this biscuit recipe come from?

This recipe comes from a blog called Half Baked Harvest. She tells a pretty entertaining story about her first time cooking with jalapenos. A cautionary tale, one might say.

Why choose this biscuit recipe?

I enjoyed reading the post and thought these sounded really different, while still being a biscuit. Plus, I knew that the biscuits would have to sit a while – there was no way everyone would get to eat them hot out of the oven, so I wanted something with enough flavor to come through at room temperature.

Sweet Corn Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuit Dough

Sweet Corn Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuit Dough

What is Persnickety about this biscuit recipe?

The cheese is cut up into cubes, instead of grated. That seemed like a good idea, but the cubes on the outside of the dough melted and ran out of the biscuit and onto the pan. I’m not worried about my pan, since I used my trusted parchment paper. But it is sad when good cheese is lost in the baking of a biscuit!

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

I followed the recipe closely. The only change I made was to add less chopped jalapeño, which was a mistake. I was afraid they might be too spicy.

Sweet Corn Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuit

Sweet Corn Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuit

So how was the biscuit?

I found them a bit dry and the flavors were too mild. More jalapenos, cheese, and honey might have all helped. I wanted them to pack more of a punch. But I have to admit that they were all devoured at the Happening, so it might have just been me!

I also made them quite small so that there would be plenty to go around. I think they might be better if they were bigger so that there would be more of the soft interior, to contrast with the dry and crumbly exterior. I would also make some kind of filling next time, or serve them with a healthy slather of honey butter. Because everything is better with honey butter!

How were the leftovers prepared?

There were not many leftovers, but I toasted the few that were left behind. They got nice and crispy.

Toasted Sweet Corn Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits

Toasted Sweet Corn Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits

Pumpkin Biscuits with Maple Cinnamon Butter

Maple Cinnamon Butter

Where did this biscuit recipe come from?

The recipe came from My Life as a Mrs.

Why choose this biscuit recipe?

After spending some time focused on making more “traditional” biscuits, I was ready for something different. I love pumpkin muffins so figured I would like these, too!

Pumpkin Biscuits

What is Persnickety about this biscuit recipe?

For me, it is the spices. I don’t like too much pumpkin spice mix in anything. The blend is not quite right to me, but you need enough spice to make these interesting, so I fiddled with that a bit. It was also a little tricky to get the ratio of wet to dry ingredients right.

What changes were made to this biscuit recipe?

I made these several times. The first time, I made them as written, the second time (and third and …) I made the following changes:

  • Used a little more flour and a little less pumpkin so that the dough was easier to work with
  • Added 1/4 cup of brown sugar because I wanted them to be a bit sweeter
  • Used 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (instead of all pumpkin pie spice) – this was perfect for me
  • I modified the butter recipe, too, adding cinnamon to the Maple Butter, so it became Maple Cinnamon Butter. I used salted butter because I always prefer salted butter.

Pumpkin Biscuit

So how was the biscuit?

Wonderful! They were a gorgeous orange color and very moist with just enough spicy sweet pumpkin flavor to make it interesting, while still tasting like a biscuit. They did not rise terribly high but enough.

I ate them several different ways. I did make the maple cinnamon butter, and that was a really nice sweet, salty touch. I also served them with fresh sausage from my local butcher and blackberry jelly. I made little biscuits (about 1 1/2 inches diameter) for a party and served them with an assortment of butters and jams and the option of sausage. They were a hit!

Pumpkin Biscuits with Sausage

Biscuit Making Begins

Finally! All this talk of biscuits and none to be found in my own kitchen? Time to fix that. I’d been obsessively pinning biscuit recipes, scouring cookbooks, and looking through my grandmother’s old recipes and newspaper clippings, trying to find the best recipe. I had also read several posts from people who have lots of advice to give on how to make the very best biscuit. Eventually, I just had to bite the bullet and choose one.

fresh baked biscuit

Where did this biscuit recipe come from?

It originally came from a cookbook of recipes provided by Tupelo Honey Cafe, aka Biscuit Mecca. Here is a link to the Project Foodie post I found with the recipe.

Tupelo Honey Cafe Cookbook

Why choose this biscuit recipe?

Hello – Tupelo Honey! Also, there is lots of butter and buttermilk involved so it seemed like a no brainer. At the same time, I cannot believe that Tupelo Honey would share their actual biscuit recipe. I mean, isn’t the real one locked up somewhere?

Tupeolo Honey Biscuit

What is Persnickety about this biscuit recipe?

I was most fascinated by the idea of grating frozen butter – I had never heard of doing that before. I also found the choice of bread flour intriguing. Everything I’ve read says that when baking biscuits you want to use flour that is low in protein, like White Lily. Bread flour is actually higher in protein even than all purpose flour. But did I let that stop me? Of course not.

grated butter

Look at all that butter!

Was the biscuit recipe altered in any way?

The first time I made these, I stuck with the recipe. The second time, I used shortening instead of butter, which also meant that I could skip the grating part. Shortening does not get as hard as butter in the freezer so it is not necessary. It also would have been impossible!

biscuit baking

I like to pull out all my ingredients when I bake.

So how were the biscuits?

The first time I set the biscuits several inches apart when baking. The outside was more crisp than I like. Rookie mistake. I learned that you should bake biscuits close together – actually touching – to keep them as moist on the sides the way I like them. But they still rose well and were flaky and had a good flavor.

baking biscuits

The second time I baked them right next to each other and was happier with those results. I still found them flaky, but a little too dense. I was looking for a more moist, fluffy biscuit.

second try biscuits

The third attempt was actually a variation on the first two. I had heard you could freeze biscuits uncooked and then just bake them directly from the freezer. It makes sense. I’ve bought commercial frozen biscuits before and that worked great. So I froze some from each batch and tried baking them later. I found that it worked ok. They did not seem to rise as much as the originals but were still pretty good. Makes me wonder, though, if the commercial biscuits have different ingredients.

Would you make them again?

Probably not. They were good but definitely not of Tupelo Honey quality. I realize that could be due to my inexperience, but need to try more recipes before I’ll know. The quest continues.