Throw out your pastry cutter! Throw out your knives! Throw out your food processor! Throw out your box grater, or any other gadget that you might have previously used to cut butter into biscuit dough.
What exactly is the impetus behind all of this mad tossing and flinging out of useful kitchen utensils and gadgets? These buttermilk drop biscuits, that’s what. They are, hands down, the BEST tasting and textured biscuits I have ever made. And did I mention the ease with which these pebbly textured biscuits come together? A minute or two to measure ingredients out, a few quick stirs, and about 10 minutes in the oven means you can go from grocery bag to finger-licking good in less time than it takes to go to Bojangles.
The secret to these biscuits is the way the liquids are mixed. In a standard biscuit recipe, butter is first diced into cubes, then cut into the dry ingredients (flour, leavenings, salt, sugar) until the butter has turned into thin flakes. Because butter contains water, and water turns into steam when exposed to heat, and steam expands, these flakes of butter give biscuits both lift and flakiness. Normally cutting the butter into the dry ingredients is a little time consuming, requiring the help of a pastry cutter, two knives, or–as some cooks variously prefer–grating the butter or dirtying up a food processor. Not so here. A healthy amount of butter is melted (I used the microwave) then set aside very briefly to cool. Meanwhile, cold, cold, cold buttermilk is measured.
Pour the cooled butter over the cold buttermilk and stir, stir, stir. The butter should seize up into small (and maybe even some larger) lumps.
You can see the lumps forming here as the butter and buttermilk combine together.
Here you can see the little tiny lumps of butter that form as the butter resolidifies a bit in the cold buttermilk.
The lumpy butter/milk mixture is then stirred into the dry ingredients and combined. The buttermilk is absorbed in the flour and the little bits of butter are distributed through the dough, mimicking the flakes created by the more traditional cutting methods–without any of the work! Can I get a hallelujah!?
A shaggy dough forms….
No rolling out required, baby. These biscuits are dropped from a spoon onto a
scary rustic cookie sheet.
The biscuits bake up with pebbly, bronzed tops….
While the insides are tender and a little bit flakey, buttery, savory, and just the teeniest hint of salt….
The faint hint of salt plays well against a variety of accompaniments, ranging from a slather of additional butter, a drizzle of golden honey, or a spoonful or three of your favorite jam. Or, if you took me seriously and actually threw all your knives out in a fit of giddy abandonment, you can eat them the way I did, sans adornment. Either way, they’re the best biscuits you will ever put in your mouth. Promise.