1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp.) unsalted butter
2 cups bread flour (yes, bread flour)
1 tbsp. baking powder (use aluminum-free or it’ll taste like metal for real)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp of salt
2 tbsp. sour cream
3/4 c. whole milk buttermilk
Get the oven hot. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Make the butter small. Use the box grater to grate the butter or cut the sticks into small cubes (quarter each stick long-ways and then cut those sticks into about eight cubes each). Put the butter directly in the freezer while you get everything else ready.
Mix the dry stuff. In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt).
Mix the wet stuff. In a bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and sour cream until smooth. Put it in the fridge.
Make the butter and flour become friends. The goal here is to get the cold butter distributed into the flour mixture without gigantic pieces left behind or without taking so long that the butter gets soft. This is best done by either grating the butter beforehand so you don’t have to do anything but mix it gently together with your hands to coat all of those little butter pieces with flour.
Or you use a pastry blender and cut those tiny cubes into the flour until it looks like clumpy sand. You can also work the butter into smaller pieces with your fingers, but the chances of the butter getting soft and warm are significantly higher with that approach. It’ll still work, but you need to work quickly and thoroughly. I vote you use the grater.
Add the wet stuff to make the dough. Move the flour-butter sand to the edges of the bowl, leaving a nice opening in the middle. Slowly pour in the buttermilk mixture, and using a spatula, gently move the flour around as you add the liquid. It’s really thick. Don’t let that freak you out.
Gently mix. Once you pour in all the liquid, use the spatula to gently mix the dough until there’s no liquid in the bottom of the bowl. If flour is in the bottom and kind of dry, that’s fine.
Gently knead. Sprinkle a little extra flour on your clean counter, and dump out the contents of the bowl onto the counter. Gather it all together between your hands and gently push down, flip it once or twice, fold if you need to… you’re basically trying to get every piece of flour in touch with a little liquid. Dry flour patches aren’t ideal. Butter patches, yes. Flour patches, no. The more you move the dough, the more the flour will hydrate and the ball will come together. However, like all of food television tells you, “don’t overwork it.” That basically means you want to gently knead the dough - not with your fists like bread but with the palms of your hands - until
just the moment the dough comes together. If you go too far, your biscuits might not rise as much or, yes, be tough. Not the end of the world but not what you want from a King Biscuit either. Just pay attention and stop the second you think the dough will stay together.
Roll out the dough. Use a floured rolling pin (just put some flour in your palm and rub it up and down the rolling pin) and gently pat down the biscuit dough until the disk is about two inches thick. No rolling yet. Once you get the thickness more or less even, use the rolling pin to actually roll the dough until it’s about an inch thick. Patting is gentler and better at the start than rolling all at once.
Cut out the biscuits. Dip the cookie/biscuit cutter into the leftover flour in your counter, and press down into the dough.
Do not twist. When you twist the cutter back and forth, you’re sealing the edges of the circle, making it harder for the biscuit to rise. Weird, right? So go straight up and down. Cut circles out of the entire disk, not wasting dough as much as possible. Then put the biscuit rounds on a baking sheet that’s lined with parchment paper. Gather the remaining dough together to try and cut out a couple more biscuits, but don’t smoosh it together. Think of it less like making a ball of Play-Doh and more like bringing together that magic magnetic sand. Do you know what I’m talking about? Basically, bring the dough scraps together so that they touch each other enough to just stay together. Make their connection awkward, like a sixth grade couple at a Valentine’s Day dance. No actual relationships here. The interaction is minimal at best.
Bake the biscuits. Pop them in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. You can add more melted butter to the top midway through, but I never think it needs it. And I really like butter. Seriously, there’s so much butter in this recipe. The tops are beautifully golden without any extra help. After 15 minutes, gently push on the top of the biggest biscuit. If it feels a little springy, you’re good. If it still has a bit of a give, like pushing down on wet sand, let it go another 3-5 minutes.
Eat the biscuits as soon as humanly possible.
Notes and Preferences
Interruptions. If you need to pause the biscuit-making process at any point (children have needs, man), put everything in the fridge, including the flour. Keep everything as cold as you can for as long as you can, but don’t be weird about it. Nobody’s gonna die if you make slightly tough biscuits.
DIY Buttermilk. You can make your own buttermilk by pouring whole milk into a glass measuring cup just shy of the 2 cup mark. Then bring the liquid up to the line by pouring in plain white vinegar. Let it sit a few minutes to curdle. It’s supposed to look clumpy when it’s done, and it’ll smooth out once you whisk in the sour cream. Science!
Moveable butter. I like to cut/grate my butter on a sheet of wax or parchment paper so it’s easily transported from freezer to bowl and doesn’t stick, like it would to a plate.
Crunchy or high. You decide how far apart to place your biscuits on the baking sheet. If they’re barely touching, they’ll touch as they rise and bake which you might like. Fewer crispy edges but a higher, softer rise. If you’d rather compromise a bit of the rise to get those crispy edges, place the biscuits at least an inch apart from each other.
Smaller biscuits are fine. You can totally use a smaller circle cutter if you’d like smaller biscuits, but still keep them as high. Just check on them a little earlier so they don’t overcook.
Freezing uncooked biscuits. You can freeze uncooked biscuit rounds! Take the process all the way through, stopping shy of actually baking them. Place the biscuits on a sheet pan or plate so they’re not touching each other, and freeze. Then you can put the fully frozen rounds in a plastic freezer bag. They can bake from frozen perfectly fine, but if you’d like, pull out however many biscuits you’d like to cook at the same time you preheat your oven. Those few minutes you wait will give the biscuits a chance to take the aggressive chill off.
Freezing cooked biscuits. You
can freeze cooked biscuits, but the quality is compromised a bit when you reheat them. If you’re going to reheat a frozen baked biscuit, use the oven. Turn your oven to 350 degrees, but put the biscuit in right away. It’ll heat up along with the oven. By the time the oven hits 350, you’ll likely have a nicely resurrected biscuit.
Making the dough in advance. The biscuit rounds can be held in the fridge for a couple of hours if you need to get a jumpstart on a meal. Just cover them with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel so the air doesn’t dry them out. If you need more than two hours, freeze them instead.
Reheating leftover biscuits. Biscuits are best the day you make them, but any reheating efforts are always best in the oven, not the microwave. Toaster ovens work, too.
Don’t give up. If you overwork your biscuits,
Be better than the butter.