Buttermilk Biscuits

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A good buttermilk biscuit is among my all time favorite foods. A good buttermilk biscuit is tall, fluffy, amazingly buttery and a bit tangy from the buttermilk. Crisp on the outside, they are heavenly fresh and steamy from the oven. Better yet, split open and slathered liberally with butter and jelly. At the other end of the spectrum, they can be dry, crumbly, dense, artificially butter flavored or flat resulting in a less than satisfactory biscuit.

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Here are some of the key elements that I love about this recipe: Buttermilk makes them moist, contributes to rising, and provides a tangy flavor. Making sure the butter is cold results in a more flaky texture and extra buttery flavor. Stirring just until combined keeps things tender. Brushing them with melted butter helps form a wonderfully crisp crust and provides flavor, while baking at a high temperature further ensures crispness and a maximum rise. These biscuits are melt in your mouth delicious! Make some today and welcome to the world of biscuit love. You don’t want to miss out on this one!!

Tall and Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits
from Cook’s Illustrated, Holiday Baking 2011

2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups cold low-fat buttermilk

For Shaping and Finishing
1 cup (5 oz) all-purpose flour, distributed on a rimmed baking sheet
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 500 F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Also, spray the inside and outside of a 1/4-cup measure with nonstick cooking spray.

To make the dough: combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the buttermilk. Stir with a rubber spatula just until everything is incorporated (the dough will resemble a thick batter).

To form the biscuits: Using the 1/4 cup measure, working quickly, scoop level 1/4 cup mounds of dough and drop them into the flour on the baking sheet. Continue until you’ve scooped all of the dough – you should have 12 mounds of dough. Use some of the flour from the baking sheet to dust the top of each mound. Flour your hands, then, one at a time, pick up each piece of dough
and gently shape it into a rough ball. Shake off the excess flour and place in the prepared cake pan. Repeat with the remaining mounds of dough, fitting 9 biscuits around the outer edge of the pan and 3 in the middle.

Gently brush the top of each biscuit with some of the melted butter (being careful not to flatten them). Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 450 F and continue baking for another 12-15 minutes, or until the biscuits are deep golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let the biscuits cool for 2 minutes, then invert them onto a clean kitchen towel. Flip the biscuits over and break them apart. Allow to cool 5 minutes longer before serving.

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