The Biscuit, sharing the plate with bacon, grits, eggs, and the last of the summer tomatoes

Did you guys know I was from the South? Do I talk about it a lot or something? When I drink a lot do I start yelling about grits?

So much for keeping things mysterious, I guess.

Anyway, as the consummate Southerner (see! I brought it up again), I have deep respect for the biscuit. However, weirdly, shamefully, there are no secret Bright family biscuit recipes. Maybe we’re not breakfast people, but I have to think long and hard about having home-made biscuits (not to disrespect the stuff that comes in a tube!). The majority of my childhood biscuits were consumed from the Krystal drive-through on mornings when my mom took us to school (this only happened when my dad was out of town. Other perks included sleeping in later, and not being woken up by my dad turning on all our lights in our bedroom and standing at the doorway until we stood up, groggy and upset). *

So when I started making my own biscuits, I had sadly little to go by (unless you count this instructional on which flour to use for your biscuits, cakes, and pies from Flatt and Scruggs).

As a self-taught biscuitest, I can say with confidence, though, that making biscuits yourself is well-worth it, and an entirely different animal from its biscuit-in-a-tube brethren. This recipe, from Cook’s Illustrated, is particularly delicious and, well, fluffy.

*Oh dear God. Why did I bring up Krystal? I am like a junky jonesing for a fix when I think about that place. 

Fluffy Biscuits
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated online, available with a subscription 

  • Two cups unbleached all-purpose flour*
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 lb (one stick) butter, cut into cubes and then chilled
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4cup buttermilk, plus additional if needed

*The cooks illustrated recipe calls for 1 cup all-purpose, 1 cup cake flour. I bet this would be amazing. I did not have cake flour, and they turned out great, but if you do, give it a shot. 

The Cast of Characters

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix together the dry ingredients. This is the easy part.

2. Combine the dry ingredients with the chilled butter. This is the hard part. Biscuits get their biscuitiness in combining chilled, not melted, butter with the flour. You basically want to make course crumbs with the butter, but do not want the butter melting or becoming too soft- the flakiness of biscuits comes from the cold butter melting in the oven, in nice buttery pockets. You can combine one of three ways: with two metal forks, a dough-cutter, or with a food processer. The mixer is the easiest when making them, but requires the most clean-up. The dough-cutter is great, but if you’re not a fan of seldom-used kitchen items, the forks might be your best bet. With the food processer, use a metal blade and, working in short pulses, breaking up the butter until you have coarse crumbs. If working with the dough cutter or forks, work chunks of butter against the side of the bowl, breaking up the cubes into crumbs. Refrigerate if the butter starts softening. It might take a while by hand, but wait! You’re done! That wasn’t so bad!

3. Now, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix in buttermilk. This is isn’t really an easy or hard part. Just make sure everything is sticking together.  If the 3/4th a cup isn’t enough, slowly drizzle more, a tablespoon at a time until everything is sticking together (but not sticky).

4. Pour on a floured surface and divide the dough into 12 sections. Make the little suckers stick together by batting them back and forth, gently, into a ball (do not pack them together, these are going to be fluffy. This step just makes sure they don’t fall apart)

5. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet, drizzle with melted butter (mmm) and pop in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Serve immediately, with more butter and jam.

How could you not eat these immediately?!