I found this recipe a couple years ago on Food Wishes, a video blog by Chef John. I adore how fluffy and tall these biscuits turn out. My family absolutely devours them and they only take about 30 minutes to make. Oh, and they're great topped with delicious sausage gravy. I really dislike the way nighttime photos look, but I wanted to show you how simple they are to make so please excuse the dark shots.
Here we go. Once you combine the ingredients and they start to clump together, pour them out onto a floured surface or pastry cloth. Gently press into a rectangle.
Use a pastry scraper to fold the right third on top of the center of the rectangle. Don't worry if the dough is crumbly at this point.
Repeat on the left side to complete one letter fold. This process will done a total of 3 times.
Carefully turn the dough 1/4 turn.
Press into another rectangle and repeat the 3-step "letter fold" 2 more times (fold, fold, turn).
You can see how much smoother the dough is after the 2nd letter fold is complete.
After the 3rd letter fold, press or roll the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Cut biscuits and place on a lined sheet pan (push cutter straight down, don't twist).
Make a slight depression in the center of each biscuit, brush with buttermilk, bake.
NOW YOU GET TO EAT!!!!
Items used to make this recipe:
Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits
makes 12-15 biscuits (2 to 2 1/2-inches)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into thin slices and chilled in the freezer
3/4 cup cold buttermilk*, well shaken (plus a little more to brush onto unbaked biscuits)
Preheat oven to 425F.
Using a whisk, combine dry ingredients in medium mixing bowl.
Using a pastry blender (or your fingers), cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of small pebbles (toss the whole bowl in the fridge to chill if the butter starts to soften).
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the icy cold buttermilk into the well.
Using a spatula, gently mix until most of the flour is moistened and the dough starts to form into a ball.
Dump the dough onto a well floured surface or pastry cloth.
Pat the dough into a rectangle and fold the dough into thirds (similar to folding a letter), turn the dough 1/4 turn and pat into a rectangle again; repeat folding and pressing 2 more times (for a total of 3 letter folds).
Roll or press dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle.
Cut biscuits using a floured biscuit cutter.
Gently place the biscuits onto a parchment or silicone lined sheet pan.
Using your thumb, gently press down on the center of each biscuit to make a slight depression.
Brush biscuits tops with buttermilk and bake for 15 minutes.
* if you don't have any buttermilk in the house, you can make a good substitution using regular milk and vinegar or lemon juice. To make one cup of buttermilk, mix 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to equal one cup. Give the mixture a stir and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes before using.
Note: You can gather the scraps together and re-roll the dough to get 2 or 3 more biscuits, but they never rise as nicely as the first biscuits. Instead, I prefer to make what I call Biscuit Bites by cutting the scraps into oddly shaped bite-size pieces. Brush with buttermilk and bake until they're nicely browned - they make tasty little nibbles; great four soups and stews.
By the way, I did a little experiment to see if brushing the tops with buttermilk before baking really made a difference. The biscuit on the left was brushed with buttermilk, while the biscuit on the right wasn't. Clearly the biscuit brushed with buttermilk looks more appetizing.