Mom’s Weeknight Biscuits with a few Twists
Biscuits with baked beans. Biscuits with soup. Biscuits with chicken and gravy, and just about everything else. That is how I grew up. My mom made beautiful yeast breads on the weekends, but weeknight supper was all about the quick biscuit. She didn’t need a recipe; she made them by the feel of it, and they almost always turned out great.
Always use a light hand
The key to making a good biscuit is a light hand. Careful blending, gentle folding over, and not overworking the dough. My mom had hot hands, and so do I, so that meant quick work. Usually she used butter, but sometimes shortening for the fat. Knowing her she probably also used bacon grease if that was all she had!
And add a thing or two
She made hers plain, but I often add herbs just to give it a little more of a presence in the meal. I’ve swapped out half the white flour for whole grain in the original recipe just to give them a little nutritional boost. You can also use soy milk as a substitute for the buttermilk, just add a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice or white vinegar to transform it. In fact, if you don’t have buttermilk, you can use any % regular milk acidified with lemon juice, vinegar, or even yogurt or sour cream.
This recipe makes delightful flakey biscuits with layers of flavor. It is really simple to make, and you can mix it up with your fingers or a food processor. You can omit the chives and Parmesan if you want the biscuits to be served with a sweet topping or don’t want dairy, and you can easily make these vegan by swapping out the buttermilk and butter.
Whole Grain Buttermilk Biscuits with
Herbs and Parmesan
- 2 tbsp. corn starch
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour, less two tbsp.
- 1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp. non-aluminum baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¾ tsp. baking soda
- ¾ cup butter, or vegan butter, cubed, chilled
- ¾ cup buttermilk or plant buttermilk*
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional
- 2 tbsp. fresh chives, finely minced
- OR 1 tbsp. dried chives
- OR 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Place 2 tbsp. cornstarch in a cup measure and fill the cup with flour. Place in a sifter along with the rest of the flours, baking powder, salt, and soda and sift into a medium bowl. Add butter, working quickly with your fingers to incorporate the fat until it resembles coarse meal. You can also do this with a few pulses in the food processor, but I like the feel of making the dough by hand, and the food processor can be too rough on the dough. Be gentle though, you do not want to over mix or overwork biscuits or they will be hard and tough.
Add the buttermilk, Parmesan, and chives to the flour all at once, working it gently together. Turn out onto a floured board (It will still look craggy and unmixed) and push it together to form a large mass, folding it over on itself a couple of times. This will help create flakey layers.
With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out gently to the thickness of about ¾ of an inch. Using a cookie cutter with sharp edges, cut each biscuit out with a quick, vertical motion. Or, you can use a square cutter, which will result is almost no scraps.
You can gently re-roll the scraps, but these will probably be the tiniest bit tough. This is why it is better to cut the biscuits into squares.
Place the biscuits on a lightly greased cookie sheet, or one you have covered with parchment paper. These are a bit messy, so brush away any crumbs or they will burn in the oven.
Gently brush the top of the biscuits with a little egg wash (an egg yolk beaten with a little water) and sprinkle a touch more Parmesan over the tops.
Check the biscuits at 15 minutes. By this point, they will have risen beautifully, showing off their layers of tenderness, but they will probably need a few more minutes to finish browning.
Makes 8 to 10 biscuits depending on size of cutter.
*To make plant buttermilk:
To one cup of soy milk add a teaspoon of vinegar. Let this set for a few minutes until it thickens. You can use other plant milks, but I think this works best.
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