Ah, who doesn’t love biscuits? We surely do, but we don’t make them all that often. Why? After all, they’re a quick bread; that means we can have the biscuits ready to put into the oven by the time the oven has finished preheating. After that, it’s just 15 minutes until you have fresh, light, flaky biscuits. This week, with the huge bunch of dill we have on hand, we’ll show you how to make the best herb-biscuits around. We’ll use dill, but any tender herb can be used in its place.
We’ve seen those cans of biscuits in the refrigerator case, and we’ve probably even eaten them at one time or another, but we prefer to make real biscuits. With real ingredients (just read the ingredient list on those cans sometime so you can decide if you want to eat that stuff). They aren’t difficult, and you can even do as we do and make them a bit healthier by using a mixture of all-purpose flour and white whole-wheat flour. Or not. That’s the great thing about making your own biscuits — you choose what to put in them.
This recipe is based on our best-ever biscuit recipe.
You can use just all-purpose flour for these biscuits. They’ll be lighter and fluffier, but won’t have quite as good flavor. If you don’t have cream of tartar, use 2 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder in place of the baking soda and the cream of tartar. (Baking soda and cream of tartar together are a type of baking powder perfect for biscuits — it doesn’t leave a metallic taste). As we said above, other herbs will work in these biscuits, so substitute as you see fit. Butter should be unsalted butter. Not margarine, not lard. Just pure butter. Finally, we always use our homemade buttermilk, as it’s nothing but cultured milk. It’s the easiest recipe we have.
Finally, we provide weight measurements for the flour and buttermilk. Why? We find that if we measure by weight, our biscuits have exactly the right amount of moisture. They’re never too dry or too moist. They’re just right. Every time.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 450°F. Some people recommend an even hotter oven, but we find that this is perfect.
Whisk dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. The cream of tartar and baking soda are combining to make baking powder, so whisk thoroughly. Very thoroughly.
Add dill. Add the dill and whisk to combine. We add the dill after whisking the dry ingredients together because it might still be damp after washing and chopping. If so, it might prevent some of the dry ingredients from being thoroughly mixed.
Mix in butter. Scatter the cold butter across the dry ingredients and use your fingers to cut it into the flour quickly. Some people might like to use a pastry blender for this, and it might work; we don’t know, as we’ve never used one. We do know that you have to make sure the butter doesn’t melt. The secret is to work in cold butter, and for it to remain cold. Continue breaking apart the butter and mashing it into the flour until the largest pieces are no bigger than a pea. You want the butter to be a mix of sizes, as these butter chunks make the biscuits fluffy.
Stir in buttermilk. Add the buttermilk and use a spoon to stir quickly into a shaggy dough. The dough shouldn’t be completely uniform. It should have dry spots and moist spots. We find that about 10 good swift stirs are about right.
Fold and press dough. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and shape into a rough rectangle. Use a dough scraper to lift up part of the rectangle and fold over. Press the dough back down into a rough rectangle and repeat. Continue until the dough just holds together. Don’t overwork the dough, or you’ll be eating tough biscuits.
Shape biscuits. Press the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Some people suggest a rolling pin, but we just use our hands. Use a round biscuit cutter (about 2 1/2 inches across) to cut out biscuits and place them on a baking sheet so the edges touch. If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, cut into squares with a knife and place them on the pan, leaving about 1/4-1/2 inch of space between the biscuits.
Bake. Place in the oven and bake for 12 to 16 minutes, turning the pan around about halfway through, or until the biscuits are nicely browned across the top. Serve immediately.
We love the nutty taste that results from using a mixture of the two flours. If we used all white whole-wheat, the biscuits would be too dense, and if we used only all-purpose, we’d miss the flavor of the white whole-wheat flour. The dill adds a nice bright flavor that we think would work very well with Cheddar cheese (we actually thought about making Cheddar-dill biscuits; perhaps next time), but they were also great with a bowl of red beans and rice. Five easy stars.