my tried and true buttermilk biscuits
a recipe with family history
Hi there! You’ve stumbled across the very first edition of my recipe newsletter: Thyme & Butter! I like to call it a “recipe club” because it feels fun and secret and like we’re all at summer camp together. I’d love to make this an interactive experience, so if ever you feel inclined, you can reply to these emails with comments, suggestions, or recipes of your own! (They’ll come right to my inbox 😘)
Thank you for subscribing, and for joining the club! Anyone up for friendship bracelets? 🌿💛
This week I’m sharing one of my most favorite recipes, quick and easy buttermilk biscuits. Serve these with butter, jam, or sausage gravy, and no matter where you’re from, you’ll be making a southern granny proud!
To hear anyone in my family tell it, my great grandmother made the world’s best biscuits. Grandma Spencer, known to me simply as “grandma” was always in the kitchen, whipping up a meal for anyone that happened to step foot into her house. By the time I came along she was well into her nineties and still making sure nobody went hungry for even a minute.
Over the years my mom and I have talked about this often, how grandma inspired a love for cooking in both of us. My mom says grandma could whip meringue by hand like it was nothing, and I remember visiting her as a child where practically every meal she served was accompanied by a big white fluffy biscuit. And apple butter, don’t forget the apple butter!
About four years ago, I decided to take on the task of learning to bake the perfect biscuit myself, once and for all. I tried just about every recipe known to man – featuring ingredients like sour cream, crisco, cake flour, and even seltzer water.
It was ultimately the most simple combination of ingredients that won belle of the ball. Although I never got the chance to learn my great grandmother’s actual recipe (something tells me she knew her biscuits so well she didn’t have to measure anyway), I do know she used White Lily flour, a brand known far and wide in the south as the best, if not the only flour for making biscuits.
I’m not positive if White Lily is sold everywhere but do take a look at your grocery store and you might just find it! I have seen it online if you can’t find it in stock near you. You can also get away with using regular self-rising flour, I won’t tell 😉
To make these simple and delicious biscuits all you need is:
2 cups self-rising flour (preferably White Lily)
½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, frozen
1 cup buttermilk, cold
1 tbsp sugar or honey
A pinch of salt
Preheat your oven to 425°F and add flour to a large mixing bowl, mix in the sugar (or honey) and salt. Carefully grate butter with a cheese grater or chop into small cubes.
TIP: Grating the butter onto wax paper prevents it from sticking to a plate, or which ever surface you’re grating onto.
Stir butter into your flour mixture until butter is well coated in flour. Add in the buttermilk and stir until just combined, no more than 15 times. This sounds like an arbitrary number, but it keeps you honest and prevents you from over mixing. The dough will appear sticky and lumpy.
To form the biscuits, flour a clean surface and pat or roll out the dough into a rectangle. Fold the dough in on itself about 5 times, alternating folds length and widthwise, patting or rolling flat in between. This folding will create flaky layers and help the biscuits rise. You will likely need to sprinkle more flour onto the dough or your hands throughout this process since the dough tends to be very sticky.
Using a biscuit cutter, bench scraper, or jar, cut your biscuits into the desired size and shape. Apply a light layer of cooking spray to a sheet tray or cast iron skillet, and add the biscuits gently. The biscuits should be touching each other slightly as this helps them rise.
Bake for 12-15 mins or until golden. At higher elevations, this recipe may take longer to bake.
Makes about a dozen biscuits, depending on how large you cut them.
TIP: For extra flavor, lightly brush the tops of the biscuits with buttermilk before baking. You could also add melted butter and a sprinkle of salt or sugar.
And there you have it, buttermilk biscuits! I’ve found these freeze well at the dough stage, just cut them into your desired shape and pop on to a cookie tray to freeze for a few hours. Once solid enough you can toss into a freezer bag. Reheating from frozen directions are the same as baking, but they may need a few extra minutes. Do not thaw.
If you make these biscuits, reply to this email to let me know! I’d love to hear what you think. Drop me a line and tell me what you’re cooking this week too!
PS: Many thanks to Grace, Chelsea, Alex, Kate, Emily, and Tea for name ideas and support for the launch of this newsletter!
Supplemental reading: I was torn about including a recipe for “my” sausage gravy because to be honest, I’ve never measured ingredients when I’ve made it! This recipe from Spicy Southern Kitchen is the closest thing to my own method (but I don’t add nutmeg because I’m a nutmeg hater and think it has no business in sausage gravy, but don’t let me stop you 😜)
All past recipes will be available in the archive, so you never have to worry about missing one!
Thanks for reading thyme & butter! If you’re not yet a subscriber, I’d love it if you joined the club! 🧈💚