I’m a big fan of biscuits which is due in no small part to the fact that I’m also a big fan of butter.
When I first started making my own biscuits a few years back, I began with drop biscuits. If you’re not familiar with that sort of biscuit, it just means that instead of rolling and folding biscuit dough, you scoop or “drop” the dough onto a cast iron skillet or pan. I’m not 100% sure why I started with that variety of biscuit, but I’m guessing it seemed a little less intimidating at the time. The doughs and ingredients are similar, but a folded, layered biscuit just has a much more appealing look to me.
When I started looking for biscuit recipes that were more similar to the type that I had eaten in restaurants growing up in North Carolina, I stumbled upon the video below from Southern Living Magazine and it’s still the main recipe I fall back on when I’m not engaging in biscuit experiments.
Here’s a direct link to the written recipe for the above video, if you’re more of a reader than a watcher: Southern Living biscuits. Come back when you’re done reading and we’ll keep talking.
The simplicity of this recipe is due in part to only requiring three ingredients, but the genius of the recipe is frozen butter. By grating the butter after it’s frozen, you get consistent mixture with the flour and your butter stays really cold. The temperature of your butter is very important because you want it to survive unmelted in the oven for as long as possible. The steam that comes from the butter melting in the oven will actually help the biscuits rise taller. There’s a step in the Southern Living biscuit recipe that calls for you putting your flour/butter mixture back into the freezer. This is also very important for keeping that butter (now incorporated with flour) cold.
There are also several really helpful tips in that recipe.
- If you’re cutting your biscuits into circles DO NOT twist your biscuit cutter. After working hard to fold your dough multiple times, twisting the cutter will also twist the layers of your uncooked biscuit, leaving you with a biscuit that won’t rise as well.
- Bake your biscuits close together. When you put your cut biscuits onto your baking sheet and the biscuits are touching, they will create more steam and if touching they will help each other rise.
- Baste your biscuits with melted butter when they come out. I also do this with some of the sandwich rolls I bake. I like the way the finished product looks, but it also makes the top much more flavorful.
I could stop here and just let you make those Southern Living biscuits for the rest of your life because they are basically foolproof and very tasty, but instead I’m going to introduce you to three variations that I have come up with. All three of these take the base of the Southern Living recipe and expand on it.