Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Biscuits are the ideal comfort food — the perfect vehicle for sweet strawberry jam or savoury breakfast sandwiches. Buttery, flaky and fluffy, these southern rolls are one of my all-time favourite foods.

I’ve spent some time road tripping through the American south in recent years, and I’ve eaten some of the best biscuits on the planet: from the nostalgic Bake in the Day Bakery in Savannah, Georgia, to the Loveless Cafe in Nashville and countless pitstops in between. Every time I came home to my Canadian kitchen, I tried in vain to recreate the perfect biscuit. After countless failed attempts, I’ve finally found a winning recipe.

All the great southern chefs swear by White Lily flour, which is made from a special soft winter wheat that is ideal for making light and fluffy biscuits. White Lily is not available in Canada — unless you’re willing to pay a hefty price for it on Amazon or send your vacationing sister-in-law on a grocery store scavenger hunt during her spring break vacation in Miami. I’ve discovered that mixing equal parts cake flour and all-purpose flour is a great substitute for White Lily flour.

The trick to making great biscuits is to start with very cold ingredients…some veteran biscuit makers even refrigerate their flour and mixing bowl. Chilling the biscuits before baking ensures a super flaky texture. The final secret is being extra careful not to overwork the dough.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 4 cups cake flour
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 4 tbsps baking powder
  • 3 cups cold buttermilk
  • heavy cream, for brushing

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder.
  2. Add the cubed cold butter to the dry ingredients. Use your hands to work the butter into the flour. The best way to do this is to grind the mixture together using the palms of your hands. You can also use a pastry cutter for this. Continue working the butter into the flour until it is fully incorporated. It’s ok if there are a few pea-sized pieces of butter.
  3. Next, add the cold buttermilk and work it into the flour using your hands. Work the buttermilk into the dough until just combined. Fold the dough onto itself about 2 or 3 times to create those flaky layers. Do not over mix the dough! The mixture will be quite shaggy, wet and sticky.
  4. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and gently pat it out with your hands until it is about the same thickness as your biscuit cutter (usually about 1 – 1 1/2 inches thick).
  5. Cut out the biscuits and place them on a lightly greased baking pan.
  6. Brush the top of the biscuits with heavy cream.
  7. Refrigerate the unbaked pan of biscuits for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Bake biscuits at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until the tops are just lightly golden.

Yield: Approximately 15 large biscuit

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