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HOMEMADE BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

February 22, 2012 11:11 pm 0 comments

Buttermilk biscuits are classic cookies that are best made at home. The recipe is passed on traditionally to all the women in the family from our great great-grandmother’s day. They are superbly tasty, crisp and flaky biscuits. Buttermilk biscuits are quick and simple to prepare with very few ingredients. Very versatile ingredients and the biscuits can be stored for some time.

The technique of making the buttermilk biscuits is slightly similar to the puff pastry especially using cold butter and buttermilk. This helps in making it incredibly fluffy, multi-layered that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Many have a question mark on how one would use buttermilk in baking as generally we use milk, cream etc. Generally buttermilk is mainly used as an acidic ingredient in baked goods to combat grayish discoloring often caused by the chemical reaction of blueberries, walnuts and other foods that give off a blue cast. It also promotes browning of baked goods and improves texture. Many prefer dipping meat, poultry and fish in buttermilk rather than milk before coating for frying and baking.

It was been discovered that the acid in buttermilk reacts with baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) to produce bubbles of carbon dioxide, buttermilk became the preferred liquid to many cooks for making light, tender, highest-rising biscuits, scones, soda breads and other quick breads, pancakes, waffles, muffins, and cakes. Buttermilk is also substituted for whole milk or skim milk in many recipes such as baked goods, soups, sauces, puddings, and frozen desserts. In some recipes, it is also used as a substitute for sour cream.

Buttermilk is often used by many chefs as it’s economical and is a wonderful dairy product that makes some delicious baked goods and is always handy if you like to bake more than just the occasional batch of chocolate chip cookies. Buttermilk is thick and has a tangy, buttery flavor – sort of like a cross between melted butter and sour cream. Despite its thickness, it is low in fat. Some people like to drink it plain, but it is usually best utilized in cakes, pancakes, breads and other dishes where it lends a lot of butter flavor without the extra fat of more butter or full-fat sour cream.

In North Indian, buttermilk is a remarkable beverage served almost daily to every person in the house especially during summer season. It is cooling, refreshing and makes an exceptional beverage. Few popular recipes made with buttermilk are Kadhi, Mor Kozhambu, Lassi etc. Buttermilk is so named because it was originally the liquid left over after the butter-churning process was complete. These days, buttermilk is cultured, made by adding lactic acid bacteria to [pasteurized] nonfat or low fat milk to thicken it and give it a tangy flavor. The easiest substitute is to add 1 tbsp of vinegar to 1 cup of regular milk to curdle it and give it a sharper flavor. This also provides a similar level of acidity to buttermilk, so it will work in recipes in the same way (it doesn’t have the buttery flavor of buttermilk, however).

To prepare this yummy and delicious homemade Buttermilk Biscuits, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a large bowl, stir together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon baking soda. Cut 7 tablespoons unsalted butter into chunks into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add ¾ cup buttermilk, tossing with a fork until the dough holds together. If it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk. It should be very wet.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and form into a disk. Knead lightly just a few times until smooth. Gently, gently PAT (do NOT roll with a rolling pin) the dough out until it’s about 1/2″ thick. Fold the dough about 5 times; gently press the dough down to a 1 inch thick. Use a round cutter to cut into rounds. Place biscuits about 2 inches apart on an un-greased baking sheet. Gather the trimmings and repeat forming and cutting. Bake for about 10-12 minutes- the biscuits will be a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom. Do not over bake.

Tip: The key to real biscuits is not in the ingredients, but in the handling of the dough.  Make sure all of your ingredients are chilled (translation: chill the bowl and all of the ingredients you will be working with)

Cold, Unsalted Butter is a necessity in this recipe. Many people prefer using shortening or lard to make their biscuits because they make for very tender, flaky biscuits– it’s all a matter of preference. A light touch is essential. The less you touch the dough and worry less about uniformity- the better your biscuits will come out. Touching and working your dough too much melts the butter, and develops the gluten in the dough, making for tough biscuits.

Once the biscuits come straight out of the oven, serve them immediately- there is nothing as sad as a cold biscuit. Sure, you can keep them overnight in an air-tight container, or a re-sealable bag, and then re-heat them in the oven, but it really isn’t the same. Buttermilk is low in calories and has good amount of protein and vitamins as the milk it is made from and is an excellent source of calcium. For that reason, buttermilk is a boon to dieters.

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