My younger years were spent in the mountains of North Carolina, this is a part of my life that I dont often reflect on. Every time Im back in NC, I always visit Chimney Rock, its like a ritual and every time the views are more stunning than I remembered, theres something very calming about it.
Certain foods take me back to my childhood and biscuits is one of them. Having lived in the UK for the last 17 years, biscuits are very hard cookies served with tea. They would compare a southern biscuit to a scone but a scone is really quite different and again, served with tea, often with freshly whipped cream and jam. Southern American Biscuits are like a dinner roll but can also be served with breakfast, cut in half and stuffed with meat or served with a very southern gravy.
I recently decided that what I needed in my life was biscuits, a throw back to my childhood. I think it could have been the move, feeling unsettled and craving the comfort of something familiar.
Southern American Biscuits
Makes: 6 very large or 8 medium-large biscuits Prep time: 80 mins Cook time: 15-20 mins Total time: 95-100 mins
- 2 and 1/2 cups (300g) Plain flour
- 2 Tablespoons (40g) Baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (8g) Salt
- 1/2 cup (150g) unsalted butter, very cold or frozen
- 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons (270ml) cold buttermilk, divided
- 2 teaspoons (15g) Honey
( A true southern will do half butter and half shortening/lard, so 1/4c (75g) each of butter and shortening)
Now to makes these very yummy flakey biscuits
1. First FREEZE your butter (and shortening if using), put it in the freeze for an hour, you want it to be very cold for BEST results. I cut mine into blocks, cover in cling film and put in the freezer for at least an hour. (I always a few portions of butter in my freezer so that when the biscuit feeling hits, I can make them!)
2. Preheat your oven to 425°F (218°C).
3. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a food processor. Pulse until combined, add the cubed butter and pulse several times in the processor until it resembles fine crumbs. (You dont have to use a food processor, you can use a bowl and pastry blender to make combine and make fine crumbs by hand.
4. Pour the crumb mixture into a bowl, making a well in the middle of the bowl. Pour in 1 cup 1 cup (250ml) of buttermilk and the honey into the well. Stir the mixture until it JUST comes together. You want to avoid over mixing it, as it will make the dough and biscuits hard. The dough will be crumbly and bitty. (apologies for the POOr pictures for this stage, having your hands covered in biscuit dough and taking pictures at the same time, not a good idea!)
5. Pour the crumbly dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently mold it into a rough rectangle with your hands, patting it into shape as you go.
6. This is the REALLY important part that will make the biscuits light and flakey. Fold one side into the center, then fold the other side into the middle.
7. Turn the dough so it’s long width wise and gently flatten, I lightly used my rolling pin. If you are using a rolling pen, be very gentle! Repeat the folding again.
8. Turn the dough again, so it’s long horizontally once more and flatten, in a light and gentle manner. You want it to be 1.5 inches thick. Biscuits are meant to be thick!
9. Cut into circles, I use a biscuit butter but even the rim of a wide glass will work. Re-roll any scraps you have, as per the bottom right Frankenstein biscuit. Bake on a cookie sheet or cast iron skillet (if you’re lucky enough to have one).
10. With your last 2 tbsp of buttermilk, brush the tops of the biscuits. Bake for 15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown on top.
11. Remove from the oven and enjoy! Biscuits are best served warm with butter (or gravy for the full southern experience). Store leftovers in a air tight container tightly and consume within 3 days.
I hope you enjoy this very classic delicious buttery southern staple!