How to Make Buttermilk Biscuits
Warm biscuits are such a wonderful treat. Even the word biscuit sounds buttery, cozy and homemade. We’ve heard biscuits called the croissant of the South because they have such a wonderful, flaky texture — and they can be deceptively complicated. But once you know a few simple tricks, they’re actually quick, quite easy to make and so scrumptious and rewarding.
Butter is the very heart of the biscuit. It should be cold, and there should be pea-size chunks of it in the dough when you’re done mixing. The butter will melt in the oven, creating air pockets in the dough, which will give you that fantastic texture. It’s important to take a light hand with your biscuit dough: resist the urge to knead or roll it into a triangle (a light pat will do) or to twist the cutter as you form your biscuits — both can lead to flat, hard biscuits.
Why do we bake the biscuits in a cold, cast-iron skillet? It helps that butter stay as cool as possible for as long as possible.
For this recipe, we let the biscuits bake for a bit — so they can start the rising process unencumbered — and then coat them with honey-thyme butter and a little flake salt. The result is a sweet, herby biscuit with crunchy, golden crust and a delightfully tender, fluffy and flaky interior. It’s the kind of a biscuit you can serve at any meal: it’ll delight your family and friends whether it’s served with poached eggs, sausage and gravy or sweet cream butter and a little pot of honey.
10 to 12 biscuits
Preparation time: 15 to 20 minutes
Cook time: 17 minutes
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
7 tablespoons butter, divided (4 tablespoons cold and diced)
1 cup buttermilk
3 sprigs of thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons honey
Flake salt, to taste
- Heat the oven to 425 F and place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in the fridge to chill.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt and pulse until incorporated.
- Add in the 4 tablespoons of cold butter and pulse until the butter is about the size of peas.
- Transfer the butter mixture to a large bowl and fold in the buttermilk.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and form it into a ½-inch thick rectangle.
- Fold the left side into the center, and then fold the right side over it. Gently pat it down until it’s a ½-inch thick again, and then repeat the folds.
- Pat the dough down a final time, until it’s a ½-inch thick again. Using a lightly floured ring mold or circular cookie cutter, cut the dough into biscuits. Be careful not to twist the cutter — just press down and pull straight up. Fold any leftover dough together and cut out remaining biscuits.
- Lightly spray the cold cast-iron skillet with cooking spray and arrange the biscuits in the pan — they’ll be touching on all sides.
- Bake the biscuits for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over low heat. Add the thyme and honey, stir to incorporate and take the butter off the heat.
- Brush the butter mixture over the biscuits and bake them for an additional 7 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
- Sprinkle with flake salt and serve warm.