Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

I'm gonna come out and say it because you're gonna think it: these taste like Popeye's biscuits. (At least the back-in-the-day Popeye's.) Why, thank you. They do. These are what biscuits should be. They're flaky, with layers so fine they melt in your mouth. There's just enough flour and leavening to rise them up, so the fat doesn't weigh them down into greasy pucks. And there's plenty of buttermilk to keep them moist. That makes the dough sticky, so work fast and handle the dough as lightly as possible. Featherlight biscuits will be your reward.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 50 min
  • Active: 15 min
  • Yield: Makes about 15 (2-inch round) or 8 (2 1/2-inch round) biscuits
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Ingredients

8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, plus some softened butter for the pan

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the dough

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups whole fat, cold, cultured buttermilk

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Nonstick cooking spray

Directions

  1. Brush softened butter on a sheet pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a large glass measuring cup measure the buttermilk. Add the shortening. With an immersion blender on high, blend the shortening into the buttermilk until smooth.
  4. Using a box grater, grate the cold butter into the flour. Toss until all of the pieces are coated. Lightly pinch the butter pieces into the flour.
  5. Lightly coat your work surface with nonstick cooking spray, then flour. (The spray keeps the flour in place.) Add the buttermilk/shortening mixture to the flour/butter mixture. Gently mix the dough with a rubber spatula until there are no dry bits of flour left. The dough should be slightly sticky.
  6. Transfer dough to the prepared work surface. Lightly coat your hands with flour and gently press the dough with the palms of your hands to form it into a smooth flat rectangle, 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle the dough with flour, then fold it into thirds (like a letter). Pat the dough out again, sprinkle with a little flour, and fold it into thirds again. Turn the dough 90 degrees (this time folding in the open ends first.) Repeat one more time. Dough should no longer be sticky.
  7. With a floured 2- or 2 1/2- inch biscuit cutter, cut out dough rounds. Flip the rounds over so that the smooth sides that were against the work surface face up and place on the prepared pan, 1-inch apart. Stack the scraps and press and cut again. Refrigerate until cold, about 15 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Bake until the tops are golden brown and crisp, about 16 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving hot.

Cook’s Note

You can let the biscuits cool completely, then freeze them for up to 2 months. To serve, thaw them and then bake in a 350 degrees F oven until toasted and warm. If only fat-free buttermilk is available, you can substitute it with a combination of 1 cup of full fat sour cream and 1/2 cup of whole milk.

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