I’ve been baking these for Mr Kitchen for a few months now, and one day he asked for, “Those scone things.”
“You mean the biscuits,” I (in my nicest wifely fashion) corrected him.
“No, I mean the scones.”
Which got me to thinking … What is the difference between a scone and a biscuit? They’re both butter and flour based breakfast baked goods that can be savory or sweet. When they turn out well, they are towering high and golden brown, but still rich and moist in the middle. I guess eating “scones and gravy” doesn’t have quite the same ring as “biscuits and gravy”, but it’s all semantics, IMHO.
Whatever name you prefer, you’ll always have the last word if you make the wonderful recipe below from (the One, the Only) Smitten Kitchen. Deb Perelman is a god, and her buttermilk biscuits (scones) have never disappointed. I’ve even done stupid things like put in 1/4 cup more buttermilk and skipped the baking soda, and they STILL turn out amazing.
I like these puppies so much that at Deb’s suggestion, I even freeze them for mornings when I want a decadent breakfast, but I don’t have a lot of time to spare. I put the formed, raw biscuits on piece of stiff paper wrapped in parchment, pop the whole thing in a heavy duty Ziploc bag, and put it in the freezer. When I’m ready to bake, I take the biscuits straight out of of the bag, put them on another sheet of parchment and bake them for a minute or two longer than usual. I have a secret ambition to invite friends over for a last minute brunch and just whip these out of my sleeve like I’m this fabulous baking guru with magical powers (sort of like Deb!). Freezing these biscuits gets me a little closer to the dream.
A quick note on the buttermilk–if you’re like me, you don’t keep buttermilk in your refrigerator on a regular basis. (Confession, I have actually never made this recipe with real buttermilk!) I substitute with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice mixed with 1 cup of 2% milk. I let the whole thing stand for 5-10 minutes, or until the milk starts to curdle slightly. Ta daaaaa … Buttermilk!
My Favorite Buttermilk Biscuits
By Smitten Kitchen (click–it will change your world)
2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons to 1 1/2 tablespoons (10 to 20 grams) sugar (to taste, see note above)
1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
3/4 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
9 tablespoons (125 grams) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk
Heat oven to 400 °F and cover baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large, wide bowl. Using fingertips or a pastry blender, work butter into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, Add buttermilk and stir until large, craggy clumps form. Reach hands into bowl and knead mixture briefly until it just holds together. (Note from Sammy: If adding dried fruit, put in and knead in with your hands.)
To form biscuit rounds: Transfer dough to floured counter and pat out until 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick (err on the thin side if uncertain, as the tall ones will literally rise and then tip over, like mine did the day I photographed these). Using a round cutter (2 inches for regular sized biscuits, 3 inches for the monstrous ones shown above), press straight down — twisting produces less layered sides — and transfer rounds to prepared sheet, spacing two inches apart.
To make drop biscuits: Drop 1/4-cup spoonfuls onto baking sheet, spacing two inches apart.
Both methods: Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly, then serve warm, with butter/jam/eggs/bacon/sausage and gravy or any combination thereof.