Breakthrough Buttermilk Biscuits

Breakthrough Buttermilk Biscuits

Yield: Makes about 1 dozen biscuits  |  Total time: 30 min
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My first story as a food columnist for the Alaska Dispatch ran just in time for Mother's Day.  The biscuit recipe included is perfect for brunches, an afternoon snack, or high tea.  You can also vary the flavors by making them savory (pear and Parmigiano-Reggiano) or sweet (with whipped cream and fresh berries).  For more on why they're "breakthrough" and more photos, please visit Breakthrough Buttermlik Biscuits.


1/2 cup/8 tablespoons very cold, preferably frozen, unsalted butter

2 1/4 cups/11 1/2 ounces self-rising flour*

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken

To Finish: 2 tablespoons melted butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°.  Place the butter in the freezer at least 30 minutes.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease the pan with butter.
  2. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and grate the frozen butter (using the larger hole size) over the flour.  Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or a fork until the mixture is crumbly and resembles small peas, about 1 minute maximum. If it’s a warm day or super hot in your kitchen, cover the flour-butter mixture and chill 10 minutes. Add *optional ingredients, if using (see notes below).  Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture, stirring just until the dry ingredients are moistened.  If it’s a dry day, add a tablespoon or two more of buttermilk; the dough should stick together and not crumble.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  You want to work quickly here so the butter will not soften too much; knead dough with lightly floured hands, 1 or 2 times, adding additional flour only as needed; the dough should be sticky.  Press or pat the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches).  Cut the dough with a 2-inch cutter, and place biscuits, side by side so that they just touch.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden on top. Remove from the oven; brush with the melted butter.  Serve warm.


    *Add 1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper and 1/3 cup (about 5 strips) cooked bacon, crumbled into the flour mixture.

    *Add 1/3 cup grated Comté or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and about a tablespoon or two of diced ripe pear.

    *Add a tablespoon of fresh chopped chives or jalapeños and some grated Cheddar. 

    *Use biscuits as a topping for chicken stew.

    *For Berry Shortcakes, add about 1 teaspoon of sugar to the flour mixture.  After brushing the tops with melted butter, sprinkle the tops with some coarse sugar.

Date Published: May 13, 2013

All recipes have been tested by the Test Kitchens unless otherwise noted.

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