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Keller’s Buttermilk Biscuits

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Why Keller’s Buttermilk Biscuits? This recipe is based on Thomas Keller’s recipe from his incredible cookbook Ad Hoc at Home.

When I was working as a consultant/Executive Chef starting up a restaurant, I put Keller’s Sandwich on the menu, which was a monster fried chicken biscuit sandwich that used these biscuits. Made fresh every day, this was one of our biggest sellers!

Make this as a side to your next dinner, as the shortcake for a delicious and easy strawberry shortcake, or as the base for the best breakfast sandwich you’ve ever had. No matter how you dress them up (or not!) they are sure to please every diner at your table.

Biscuits can be finicky because you don’t want to over mix them. However, if you under mix they will easily crumble if you use them for a sandwich. If you over mix, the biscuits will be dense and won’t rise or have distinct layers.

buttermilk biscuits, butter, homemade biscuits

How to Create The Layers

So how do you know what’s the perfect balance between light and fluffy layered biscuits and the dense, dry ones? The key is in the butter.

You see, like croissants, the butter creates steam which, when carefully layered between flour, will puff up and cause the biscuit to rise. This in addition to the baking powder (another leavener) of course.

Consequently, it’s very important that you cut the butter and keep it well chilled. This way, when you cut it into the flour, you maintain chunks of it that will flatten out and become coated by flour as you mix the buttermilk in and roll out your dough.

That’s why we say “pulse until the chunks of butter are pea-sized” instead of well incorporated.

Another important element to note is that when rolling out the dough, the more you work it, the more the butter will melt in. The trick is to make sure that the bottom of the dough isn’t so dry that it’s falling apart. Once I pour out my dough onto a work surface, I form a rough rectangle with my hands. Then I divide it into 4 and stack each 1/4 one on top of the other. Then roll it out into a rectangle again and cut out the biscuits.

With the scraps, layer them one on top of the other, don’t just combine them all in a hodge-podge. Remember to keep those layers you’ve formed. By stacking one on top of the other, you’re creating more layers, rather than blending them horizontally.

Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t feel like you’re getting it right away, experiment with mixing it to different degrees and finding the texture that you like best.

buttermilk biscuits

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Keller’s Buttermilk Biscuits

Based on the recipe from Thomas Keller’s cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home, these biscuits are a crowd pleaser and an incredible addition to any meal! My favorite way to have them is with fried chicken sandwiched between them. 

  • Author: thesommchef
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Chilling Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 45
  • Yield: ~12 Biscuits
  • Category: Sides
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale

2 Cups Cake Flour

2 Cups All Purpose Flour

1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

2 Sticks Unsalted Butter

1 1/2 Cups Buttermilk, plus more for brushing

Instructions

  1. Put parchment on a rimmed baking sheet. 
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl, or bowl of a food processor, and lightly mix with a whisk (or pulse food processor a couple times). 
  3. Cut the butter into small cubes (1/2″ cubes), and add to the flour mixture. Pulse the food processor 5 times, holding for 1 second each pulse. If using a pastry cutter or your hands, mix the butter into the flour until the butter pieces are about the size of peas. The dough will not come together. 
  4. Remove dough from food processor, if using, and place into a large bowl. Form a well in the middle of the flour/butter mixture. Pour in the buttermilk and carefully work it into the flour with a wooden spoon or your hands (this gets messy so I suggest a spoon). 
  5. Once you have a shaggy dough, not quite a unified dough but it has come together, pour onto a lightly floured surface and pat the dough with your hands into a rectangle (don’t knead it as this will ruin the layered effect). Divide into 4 and stack each square on top of each other. Use a rolling pin to gently roll out into a rectangle again about 2″ tall. 
  6. Use a biscuit cutter to cut circles out of the dough* and place on parchment and rimmed baking sheet. 
  7. Place the biscuits on the rimmed baking sheet and brush with buttermilk. Place in the fridge while you re-roll and cut the rest of the dough. When you combine the scraps to re-roll, don’t knead them or mash them all together. Instead, layer them, on top of each other, in order to keep the fluffy layers you’ve already created. 
  8. Cut out this next batch of dough and brush with buttermilk. Set cut biscuits in the fridge to chill while you pre-heat your oven to 425 F.
  9. Bake the biscuits at 425 F for 15 minutes or until golden brown on top. 
  10. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt if desired. 
  11. Ideally, serve immediately. You can also freeze these once they’ve cooled to room temperature and reheat in the oven or toaster as needed. 

Notes

* Do not twist the cutter as/after you make the cut, as this will glue the layers together and the biscuit won’t rise as well. If the cutter sticks to the dough, simply coat with a bit of flour. Alternatively, you can also use a butter knife or metal bench scraper to cut the dough into squares. 

Keywords: Biscuits, Basics, Buttermilk Biscuit, Classic Biscuit, Easy Biscuits

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Hi! I'm Sydney,

nice to meet you!

I left a marketing career in Hollywood to go to the Culinary Institute of America. After a few years of working in restaurants, I am now a private chef and sommelier in the 30a area.




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