Tucked in this month’s Saveur magazine is a little article by Ruth Reichl about making biscuits. Her simplest recipe uses on cream, flour, salt and baking powder, but her more elaborate one, attributed to Nancy Silverton, is so over the top we had to try it and see for our selves.
Silverton’s recipe (which others have also written about) uses 5 cups of flour, 5 sticks of butter, leavening and buttermilk. All of that butter is folded into the flour along with rolling, folding and turning, making the biscuit more like a puff pastry, or maybe a croissant, where that sort of turning and folding is common. Fortunately, while you have to chill the flour and freeze the butter, and then freeze the biscuits before baking, the actual time working on the biscuits is way less than for any puff pastry.
The ingredients are simple
- · 5 sticks of unsalted butter, frozen
- · 5 cups of all-purpose flour
- · 2 Tb + 2 Tsp baking powder
- · 1 Tb kosher salt
- · 1 Tb sugar
- · 1 tsp baking soda
- · 2 cups buttermilk
- · 2 Tb melted butter
- · Flakey sea salt
You will also need more flour to flour the board.
- Shred the frozen butter in a food processor, and scrape it into a bowl.
- Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and soda in another bowl, and freeze both the butter and the flour mixture for at least 30 minutes.
- Toss the butter with the flour. Then add the buttermilk and stir to form a uniform dough.
- Turn out the dough on a floured board. You can continue to mix in any flour that wasn’t incorporated.
- Roll the dough into 10 x 7 inch rectangle, and then fold it into thirds, folding one third to the top and then the other third to top that, like a letter.
- Turn and roll the dough out to 10 x7 again and fold again 3 more times.
- Roll out the dough to 12 x 10 inches, and cut into pieces. Reichl’s recipe suggests 12 pieces, but we found that 16 seemed to make a better size biscuit.
- Place biscuits on two parchment lined baking sheets and freeze for at least 2 hours.
- Brush the biscuits with melted butter and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt, such as Maldon.
- Bake one sheet at a time at 425° for 10 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 400° and bake 10-15 minutes more until golden brown. Let them cool 5 minutes before serving.
- We found these flakey, buttery and delicious, but extremely filling, of course.
Even broken open, you can see some of the layering.
You could bake all 16 at once and serve to guests, but you could keep the remaining biscuits frozen to serve later. Once they are frozen solid, drop them into a zip-lock bag, and keep them in the freezer until you are ready to serve them. They will probably last a month or more in the freezer.
We are not sure that the sea salt is needed as it makes the biscuits awfully salty. It depends on what you are serving them with.