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!

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

Charlie Bob’s Biscuits and Gravy

Charlie Bob's | Persnickety Biscuit

There are some places you just really want to like, whether it actually makes sense or not. Charlie Bob’s is like that for me. And I do like it. I’m just not sure how much of that is deserved and how much is folklore.

Charlie Bob's | Persnickety Biscuit

Let me explain. First, I found out about this place from the East Nashville “listserve”. Restaurants in the ‘hood often get a lot of discussion on the listserve and it is fun to be in on what people are talking about.

East Nashville Mural

East Nashville is all about the dogs – even on the murals.

Second, it has this blend of old diner style and new kitsch. Old sign, checkered tablecloths, old photos on the walls. But there is also a bar in the back and a tiny stage area for songwriter nights. All of the ingredients of a hidden gem.

Charlie Bob's | Persnickety Biscuit

Third, it is on Dickerson Pike. When I was growing up here, Dickerson Pike was known as one of the seediest parts of Nashville. Drugs. Prostitution. Violence. But as East Nashville has gotten cleaned up, so has Dickerson Pike. At least to some extent. M. and I recently did a photo safari down Dickerson Pike, attempting to capture some of the character, before it all disappears.

Dickerson Pike

So we have been to Charlie Bob’s twice now, for breakfast. The first time we were practically the only ones there and could wander around, looking at the interesting stuff on the walls. This last time they were busy so we stayed put in our booth. Our breakfast was good, but I told M. I would have liked it a LOT better if it had arrived about 20 minutes earlier. The service was incredibly slow on this visit. I was really hungry and got pretty grumpy, especially when the people at the neighboring table (who arrived 15 minutes after us) got their food first.

Charlie Bob's | Persnickety Biscuit

So how were the biscuits?
Pretty good. They did not have the crisp “just baked” exterior that I like to find. I expect they were pulled from a warming drawer or something.

But the sausage gravy was really good! I think I hit on the distinction between good and better sausage gravy while at the Nashville Biscuit House. The better gravy is cooked with the sausage so that the flavors meld. I believe that was the case here.

The rest of the meal was good, too. Solid breakfast standards like super crispy bacon. It did not last long, though. We were too hungry. At one point, M. asked me a question about something and I did not even bother to answer. I just kept on eating. . . .

Charlie Bob's | Persnickety Biscuit

Nashville Biscuit House

Nashville Biscuit House

M. and I have begun what we are calling the Farewell Tour of East Nashville. I’m only moving across the city, but I know we won’t make it back to this part of town as much. So we are revisiting the places we have loved in our two and a half years of dating.

I’ve missed you, I thought as we drove into the parking lot of the Nashville Biscuit House. It is a comfortable place, diner-ish, familiar like an old friend.

Nashville Biscuit House

It was rainy and a little cold out so some comfort food was in order. We waited a few minutes for a table, standing just inside the door, watching the bustle of the place. There is no discernible pause. Someone is always sitting down, getting food, refilling coffee, lining up at the register to pay.

Nashville Biscuit House

The waitresses all wear these t-shirts, which are also for sale. Every time we go I have this internal dialogue. “I would LOVE a Nashville Biscuit House t-shirt. But the shirts have muffins on them, not biscuits. You don’t want a muffin shirt. Who designed these things anyway? Don’t they know the difference between a biscuit and a muffin?” I have not bought one yet, but am still torn.

Uneeda Biscuit at Nashville Biscuit House

This tin was on a shelf. Probably not the same kind of biscuit, but pretty cool anyway!

The menu consists of all of your standard breakfast foods – bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes, etc. – combined in different ways and amounts so that everyone gets just what they want. Prices are very reasonable, the food is hot and fresh, the waitresses are friendly, and the coffee is passable.

I’ve eaten – and watched the eating of – a wide variety of breakfast configurations and no one leaves this place hungry. Regardless of what else I order, I always get a biscuit, and have even been known to order an extra one after my meal is finished. Just ’cause.

Nashville Biscuit House

On this day, I kept it simple. I ordered a biscuit sandwich with egg and turkey sausage. All the breakfast goodness I could want on a fresh-from-the-oven buttermilk biscuit. I persuaded M. to get a side of gravy that we could share. In the process of ordering that we learned the difference between their Country Gravy, which is a plain white vegetarian sauce, and their Sausage Gravy, which is just their Country Gravy with sausage crumbled into it.

Nashville Biscuit House

That explains it, I think. I have wondered why I prefer some sausage gravies to others. I’ve not tried making it myself (yet!), but think I like when the sausage is more incorporated – using the sausage drippings in the gravy as it is being made. That’s something I will have to try myself.

Nashville Biscuit House Menu

Nonetheless, the biscuit sandwich was delicious. I like to play with my food, so I ate some “as is,” some with jelly, and saved some biscuit to eat with the gravy. The biscuits here are so fluffy and tasty that I could eat them plain, but where’s the fun in that?

As we left, we saw that the line to get in was out the door, literally, and some people were even waiting in the rain. I felt a little guilty about lingering over my coffee. But I knew that soon enough these folks would be ushered into the warmth and served a good hot breakfast. They would just be glad to be there because sometimes good things are worth waiting for, you know?

A Biscuit with a View at Copper Kettle – Nashville

Copper Kettle

I have to admit, I don’t usually choose buffet meals. Too much food. Too much temptation. Too high a likelihood that I’ll need a nap afterwards. But the Copper Kettle in downtown Nashville has this wonderful casual vibe, and great food, so it is worth indulging myself every once in a while.

When we arrived for the famed Sunday brunch, there appeared to be a huge crowd waiting to be seated. Thankfully, at least for us, they were leaving instead of waiting, which meant we were seated immediately.copper kettle view

We got a lovely table by the window with a fabulous view of downtown Nashville and the Titans Stadium. It was a gorgeous day, but starting to get hot, so I was glad to be seated indoors. The best of both worlds.

I had been to Copper Kettle for brunch a few times, but M. had not, so I proceeded to show him the ropes. I usually try to scope out a buffet before beginning to fill my plate, but I knew mostly what I was going to get and am not shy about starting with small amounts then returning later if something is particularly tasty. Of course I had to get the biscuits and gravy or there would be no blog post! I did manage to fit some fruit on my plate, and potatoes, and a donut and…. you get the idea.

Copper Kettle brunch plate

Despite the fact that this was a buffet, all of the food tasted very fresh. I don’t know how they do that. Perhaps the quantity of brunch-goers allows them to replenish frequently? Even the biscuits had more of a fresh-baked taste than a warmed-over one, which was a pleasant surprise. The gravy was plain, with no sausage, so I got myself a sausage patty for a little DIY. I was really pleased, though, at how savory and flavorful the gravy was even without sausage and ate half the biscuit with just the gravy, then half with the sausage crumbled over the biscuit and topped with gravy.

Sausage Gravy Biscuit

One of the other things I really like about the Copper Kettle brunch is that you can order an omelette or waffle (or both) and they will be made to order, but still included in the price of the buffet. The omelette of the day had brisket and caramelized onions and sun dried tomatoes and was truly a highlight. M. said he thought it was one of the best omelettes he has ever had.

We lingered at the table over another cup of coffee and then were ready to start the day. Full, but not quite in a nap-required way. Now I call that success.

Copper Kettle Nashville

Conecuh Sausage Biscuits at Jackson’s

Jackson's BiscuitsSometimes a biscuit will surprise you.

We were going to an afternoon movie at the Belcourt and stopped in Jackson’s for a quick bite to eat. I’ve eaten at Jackson’s many times over the years. I’ve had their salads, their paninis, their french toast, and their spinach-garlic dip that will blow your taste buds away. But I had never even noticed the biscuits on the brunch menu. That’s what happens when an obsession begins – you start to notice things.

So I decided to take a chance and order the Sunrise Sliders – biscuits with scrambled egg, cheese, and Conecuh smoked sausage. I’d never heard of the sausage before, but it seems to be from Alabama and is, I suppose, special enough to be called by name.

The resulting biscuit concoction was far better than I had expected. What the menu did not say is that they would be served with pepper jelly on the side. What a lovely surprise! It would have been very good without the jelly but that was the touch that set this meal apart and made it worth remembering. The pepper jelly added a little spicy sweetness that rounded out the rest of the flavors perfectly. I’ll definitely be back for more.

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