I've come to find out that biscuits really are not that difficult. In fact, I dared to make my sister a biscuit-topped pot pie over the holidays, and she called the biscuits as good as hers.
The biscuits I made my sister are from the famed biscuit maker Callie White of Callie's Charleston Biscuits in Charleston, South Carolina. People simply go ga-ga over her biscuits. And, in a Serious Eats biscuit throwdown they won, hands down.
The following recipe for Callie's biscuits has recently been my go-to biscuit recipe (besides the one's I grew up on), and it wows 'em every time.
Secret ingredient: cream cheese. Yes, y'all!Lately, I've been cutting the biscuit dough into squares — rectangles really — to avoid mashing all the scraps together left over from using a round cutter. Every one knows that the more you handle biscuits the tougher they get, so I just avoid biscuits made from scraps all together.
I really can't stress the "do not over-handle" biscuits enough. After the dough drops out of the mixing bowl onto a floured surface, I throw flour on the top of the dough and gently (like, be scared to touch it) press the dough out. Sometimes I'll fold the dough over a few times (creates layers), but other times I forgo the folding in favor of keeping my hands off.
My other trick to great biscuits is to make the dough wetter than called for. You can bake out moisture, but you can't bake it in. This, of course, makes for a really sticky dough, but just throw copious amounts of flour on the surface before (gently) pressing the dough out.
Oh, and don't forget to use Southern flour. It does make a difference, but don't beat yourself up over it if you live in a region that doesn't carry Southern flour. The taste and texture differences are subtle and recognizable only to die-hard biscuit lovers.
makes 8-10 biscuits
adapted from The Washington Post
2 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter for glazing
1/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
- Place flour, butter, and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter and cream cheese into the flour with a fork or with your fingers (I find fingers easier), until the butter and cream cheese are the size of small peas.
- Add buttermilk to the flour, and mix until just combined. Do not over mix. The dough will be wet.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Flour the top of the dough, then gently press out the dough to 1/2-inch thickness (I usually don't press it out quite this thin).
- Cut dough with 2-inch biscuit cutter or similarly sized drinking glass, cutting as close together as possible.
- Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet so they are just touching, and brush tops with melted butter (I skip the butter glaze to lessen the calorie count) and bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 8-12 minutes, or until slightly golden brown.
- Biscuits are best served hot.