Biscuits & Gravy (Biscuits)

Biscuits. The perfect southern breakfast staple (add some grits and a piece of meat, and it can be "dinner" at my house!). They're warm and fluffy, the ultimate comfort food.  They can be sweet and salty, both at the same time (a nub of salted butter and a drizzle of wildflower honey for me, please).  Then you can take the biscuit to a whole new level - it can envelop a piece of sausage, or ham, or a chicken tender and be called a sandwich.  It can be sliced open, and alternately layered with strawberries and cream, and then topped with a dollop of cream, and it's dessert.  They're pretty darned universal,  come to think of it.

Making biscuits is a skill that all cooks should master.  No. 1 rule - keep the wet and dry ingredients separate until just before you're ready to bake them.  I have been making biscuits for a number of years, and this recipe is, by far, fail-safe and the TASTIEST!

4 cups all purpose flour
4 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
12 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes (or something that resembles that)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup heavy cream


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

(1)  Cut the butter into small chunks and put it back into the fridge.  This is important because it's the cold butter that's going to make your biscuits flaky.

(2)  Combine the dry ingredients, add the chilled butter, and work it in until it looks like coarse cornmeal (use a pastry cutter or knives).

(3) Add the buttermilk, and stir just to combine.  Form the dough into a "blob" in your bowl ...

(4)  Dump the blob of flour, butter and buttermilk mixture on a well floured work surface.  Gently work the mess into a smooth dough.  You can see the progression above - this was done by mounding and patting and then kneading - but not too much.  You don't want to handle the dough too much - it will get tough and the butter will melt from the heat of your hands and then you won't have flaky biscuits.   

(5)  Once you have it looking about like the last photo above, roll the dough to 1/2"(+) thickness.   Now it's time to cut them out.  You can use a cookie cutter or a drinking glass, or you can use a knife to cut squares (I've been told that's pretty traditional in the south).  

(6)  Lay the biscuits out on a parchment lined baking sheet, and brush the tops with a little heavy cream (or half and half), then sprinkle with cracked black pepper - not too fine and not too coarse.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until they're golden.

Who could resist this? Add a little butter, some honey, or homemade blueberry-lavender preserves and a tall glass of milk, and you have HEAVEN!

Then there's always a little treat for the chef.  I usually take the scraps of the cut out dough and shape them into little rounds - they're for me to pop in my mouth (or to give my kitchen helper/cleaner-upper, Sunshine the Beagle)

Chef's Treat (baby biscuit with cheese)

NEXT UP:  Tomato Gravy!

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