I am such a sucker for Southern food! I experienced Southern style food here and there growing up, but it wasn’t until I went to school in Tallahassee, Florida at Florida State, that I experienced real Southern food. Tallahassee might as well be Georgia, they are so close! Since Tallahassee has so many people from South Florida there as well for school, you will actually find a Cuban influence in a lot of restaurants. We would tailgate at a place that had fried pickles that we would dip in mustard, and then we would eat Cuban sandwiches. A mix of Southern and Cuban, and it was heaven!!
One of the first places we stayed at in Tallahassee when my sister was looking at the school was an old plantation. They had “the big house,” and had made the “servant houses” into little cottages for people to stay in. We would walk to the house for breakfast, and they had sweet tea, biscuits, grits, and eggs. My ideal breakfast! Needless to say, I have been in love with Southern food ever since.
I am still on a mission to make fried pickles at home, but in the meantime…biscuits! I hosted Easter brunch this year, and one of my favorite things to have on Easter is ham. What better to have with ham than a fresh biscuit? I did a bunch of research, and people get really crazy and intense with their biscuits. After some trial and error, I came up with a recipe that I love, and you will too.
There is definitely an art to making a good biscuit. It all starts with self-rising flour, which is flour with baking powder in it. You can make it yourself, but I find that when you purchase self-rising flour, it seems to be lighter and more airy, which is what you want with biscuits.
Another important ingredient, buttermilk! When the tangy buttermilk is mixed with the baking powder and baking soda, the reaction helps to make the biscuits light and fluffy. This also adds a nice balance of flavor. You won’t get that same reaction with regular milk.
TIP: If you do not have buttermilk, simply add a splash of white vinegar to whole milk, and let it sit for a few minutes. This will create the same effect as buttermilk.
Then the butter…oh the butter! Butter is what creates the pockets of air in biscuits, and adds in all of the flavor. I am not a shortening kind of girl. I know it is a Southern staple, but I’m a Midwest girl, and my people like butter. It has more flavor and I think it does just as good of a job as shortening, if not better. The secret to good biscuits is to have butter evenly distributed throughout the dough, but you want it to be extra cold. After some research, I found that a number of people swear by grating frozen butter on a cheese grater to create even pieces of butter that can be evenly distributed. Now, this is a major arm workout grating frozen butter on a cheese grater, but it is totally worth it. Do this with caution though… you don’t want to cut your hand.
TIP: Don’t twist the biscuit cutter when cutting out the biscuits! Simply press down and pull up. This helps to keep the love layers and air pockets.
Finish these little guys off with some melted butter, and you have perfectly fluffy, soft, golden biscuits!
How to make perfect Perfectly Fluffy Biscuits
*Use COLD ingredients! The buttermilk should be right out of the fridge, and for this recipe the butter should be frozen. The butter won’t grate unless it is completely frozen, so make sure to plan ahead of time.
*Use self-rising flour. It is light and airy, and makes a huge difference.
*Make sure your oven is completely heated before putting in the biscuits. You want the cold ingredients to hit the heat to create those lovely air pockets that make the biscuit fluffy. I recommend an oven thermometer (don’t depend on your oven telling the truth) to make sure it is at the right temperature.
*Don’t overwork and don’t underwork the dough. You want to mix it enough so that it is well combined, otherwise you can have a raw flour taste, and you don’t want mix it too much or the butter will start melting, and the the flour will start to get tough.
You can see how the butter is still in large pieces, and evenly distributed throughout the dough.
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- ¾-1 cup cold buttermilk **see tip below**
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar; you can add another if you want them to be more on the sweet side
- 1 stick unsalted butter, frozen
- 2 tablespoons melted butter for topping
- TIP: If you do not have buttermilk, simply add a splash of white vinegar to whole milk, and let it sit for a few minutes. This will create the same effect as buttermilk.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to combine
- Lightly flour a cutting board with the self-rising flour, and grate the butter using the side with the cheese grater with larger grates; it will be too difficult to use a cheese grater with small grates
- Grate the entire stick of butter, and add to the flour mixture by mixing in with a spatula so that it is evenly distributed
- While stirring, pour in the buttermilk until it starts to form a dough; you don't have to use the entire cup if you don't need to
- Stir the mixture with the spatula about 10-15 times until it starts to form a dough
- Lightly flour a work surface (like a clean counter or large cutting board), and place the dough onto the surface
- Use your hands to form the dough into a smooth ball, adding some flour if it is sticky
- Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about an inch or so thick
- Then fold the dough in half and gently roll out again to an inch to and half inch and fold in half again
- Do this 3 or 4 times, very gently, careful not to overwork the dough; all you really want to do is fold it over itself to create beautiful layers for the biscuit
- Lastly roll the dough out to about an inch or so thick, depending on how many biscuits you want to make
- Place a biscuit cutter in some flour and cut out as many biscuits as you can
- TIP: Don't twist the biscuit cutter when cutting out the biscuits! Simply press down and pull up. This helps to keep the love layers and air pockets.
- Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- If you feel like the butter has gotten too warm, place the biscuits in the fridge for about 10 minutes before baking, otherwise place in the oven
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges of the biscuits start to become golden
- Brush the baked biscuits with melted butter, and serve immediately
- These are best served fresh from the oven