Buttermilk biscuits were a breakfast staple when my sister and I would stay overnight at my grandparents’ house. Drizzled with a little honey and washed down with some 2% milk (a treat, since skim was the rule at home), they were the perfect buttery, crumbly start to the day. Though I suspect that on many of those mornings my Grandma Jantsch had some help from Pillsbury, on special occasions she would pull out her recipe and make them from scratch. I remember her telling me about her secret trick – she would roll the dough out twice as thin as usual, cut out the circles with a biscuit cutter, and bake two rounds on top of each other, so the halves would simply pull apart when the time came to add butter or honey or jam.
I’ve felt a special kinship with this recipe since my mother suggested it for one of my 4-H projects in elementary school. Painstakingly, I followed the recipe to a tee, putting as much skill as I could muster into the measuring and mixing. The validation I felt holding my blue ribbon at the Kansas State Fair was, quite potentially, the beginning of my love affair with baking. From my great-great-grandmother’s kitchen, where my Grandma Jantsch learned to cook, to that state fair judging table, this classic recipe has stood the test of time. But it also stands up well to a bit of experimentation!
Classic buttermilk biscuits – flaky, perfectly crisp and golden on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside.
I added parmesan, garlic, and a touch of lemon zest to take these biscuits from dependable side dishes to new levels of flavor centrality. I also substituted butter for Crisco and whole wheat flour for white flour, mostly because that’s what I had on hand. Finally, instead of rolling out the dough and cutting it into circles, I made drop biscuits – a quicker and more rustic accompaniment to the soup I have bubbling in the crock pot.
5 Tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and lemon zest and sauté for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Side note: I first learned that infused butter was a thing from this amazing blog, which focuses mostly on adventurous cupcakes. There will be cupcakes to come here too, I promise!
3. While the infused butter mixture cools, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and parmesan cheese in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
4. Add the butter to the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender (or a whisk), cut the butter into the flour mixture until it forms a crumbly texture.
5. Add the buttermilk and stir until just combined. (Over-mixing can lead to air bubbles in your biscuits, as I learned in some of my less-successful practice state fair biscuit attempts).
6. Spoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet. The drop biscuits will be irregular in shape – that’s ok!
7. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, or until the tops are nicely golden and the bottoms have an even brown color.
8. Place the biscuits on a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!