In the last post, I told you all about my obsession with butter which resulted in actually making my own butter. It really is very easy and you may have already done it by accident without realizing it. Whip cream until it separates and there you go. The byproduct of the process is of course the liquid that separates out from the solids: buttermilk. While my freshly made golden butter was chilling, I decided to take that beautiful buttermilk and make some biscuits. Oh hell yes. When I’m in, I’m ALL in.
Coincidentally, I had the very ingredient to do so: White Lily Flour. Deeply cherished by Southern bakers, White Lily is made from soft red winter wheat, a low-protein, low-gluten variety. Cooks swear it makes a difference – finer textured cakes, flakier pie crusts and tender biscuits. It is more likened to cake flour than the all-purpose flour many of us are familiar with so the tender results would make sense. The only thing, for me at least, is that White Lily is bleached. Bleached with chlorine in fact. This is something I usually avoid, much preferring an unbleached flour but sometimes you accept the good with the bad. You just do.
Having never used this particular flour before, I felt that biscuits were a fitting and proper introduction. Boy, was I ever right on this one. I used Mark Bittman’s classic buttermilk biscuit recipe, my standard go-to. I’ve made it numerous times, have been happy with the results and I knew I could pull it together quickly. That butter was waiting. It’s easy to bring together by hand, not overly complicated and doesn’t require any special ingredients if you have buttermilk on hand.
The biscuits were fantastic – light, fluffy with just the right crunch on top. Having made these many times before with regular AP flour, they were noticeably lighter and fluffier with the White Lily. I really just wanted a warm vehicle to shovel the butter into my mouth and these certainly delivered on that goal. Over delivered in fact and in such a good way.
A little tip … generally you don’t want to roll and reroll the scraps because they toughen up the more they’re worked and the gluten develops. This is why I like to pat the dough into a rectangle and cut it into squares rather than circles. No scraps = no rerolling. A friend passed this idea along and I think it’s brilliant.
STRESS BAKING THERAPY FACTOR: OH YES MA’AM. It’s always nice to have a really good biscuit in your repertoire and this one is pretty good. White Lily certainly makes a spectacular biscuit but even regular ‘old flour will do a wondrous job. If you’ve made your own butter, then yes by all means, you should absolutely whip these up too. That butter deserves to be on something equally worthy. What else are you going to do with that fabulous buttermilk? What – were you thinking of using a store bought loaf of bread??
BITTMAN’S BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
Makes 9 2”x2” square biscuits
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour – White Lily if you can find it
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½” pieces (1 ½ sticks)
1 cup chilled buttermilk, homemade if possible
optional: 2 Tablespoons sugar if you’re going in a sweet direction
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda (and sugar if using).
- Add the cold butter and toss to coat then use your fingers to rub in butter until the mixture resembles small peas.
- Add the cold buttermilk and stir until just combined.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead just a few times to incorporate any dry bits.
- Pat/roll the dough into a square about 6” x 6”.
- With a large sharp Chef’s knife, cut the biscuits into 2” squares, 3 rows by 3 rows.
- Place on a parchment or Silpat mat lined sheet pan, with at least 1” space between.
- Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Serve warm with freshly made butter or jam. These are best within a few hours but if you want to make ahead, the best bet is to make the dough, cut and chill then bake just before you need them.