One of my culinary goals for 2016 is to up my biscuit/scone making game. Well, I have another winner to share with you. This is the best buttermilk biscuit I’ve ever tasted. It’s light and fluffy and buttery. It tastes great with gravy on it or honey or jam or just plain butter or nothing at all. Making these biscuits have become a weekend tradition. My family has declared them to be better than the ones made by the Golden Arches or the Colonel.
Yes, these biscuits are that good. Here are a few tricks that make them so good.
For light and fluffy biscuits, the butter needs to be really cold; so, I froze the butter and, using my cheese grater, I grated the butter. I placed the butter shavings in a container and put them back in the freezer. You could do this in camp with an ice-heavy cooler, or you could grate the butter ahead at home and then keep it in a really cold cooler or buried deep in the ice. By prepping my butter this way, when I add my butter to my dry ingredients, all it needs is a few turns of the pastry cutter and it’s mixed in. So it takes less muscle and time, and my butter stays colder.
The same goes for the buttermilk. It needs to be cold when you add it. Leave it in your cooler until you need it.
You could also premix your dry ingredients at home for easy prep in camp. I would recommend starting your coals and then, working very quickly, make your biscuits. By the time the biscuits are all cut and placed into the Dutch oven, your coals should be ready to go. If you prep your dry ingredients at home, remember to pack extra flour for flouring your board and working with the dough. A couple of cups ought to do.
Finally, when cutting your biscuits, use a straight down, straight up cutting motion. Do not twist because it seals the sides of the biscuits, which can prevent them from rising.
To cut out my biscuits, I used a 2½” cutter and I was able to make 9 biscuits, which works perfectly in my 12-inch Dutch oven. I placed 8 biscuits around the outside edge, one on each compass point, and 1 biscuit in the center.
12-inch Dutch oven or baking sheet, medium-sized bowl, grater, pastry cutter, spatula, biscuit cutter, measuring cups and spoons.
6 tablespoons butter, grated and frozen
2 cups flour, plus extra for flouring your board and working with the dough
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, chilled
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted, for greasing the inside of the Dutch oven and for brushing onto the biscuits when they are done
In a chimney, start 33 coals or, at home, preheat your oven. Grease the inside of the Dutch oven.
In a medium-sized bowl, sift together your dry ingredients. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and cut in using a pastry cutter or a fork until it resembles course crumbs. Add the cold buttermilk and stir until dough is mixed and combined. I prefer to use a rubber spatula, but you could also use a fork or your hands. The dough will be slightly sticky.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and pat into a rectangle, sprinkling with flour as needed to prevent it from sticking to your hands or the board. Fold the dough over and onto itself six times, so you end up with a tall square, then pat down to about 1 inch thick. I used a 2½” cutter to cut my biscuits. It is important that you push down to cut the dough and pull straight up (do not twist). Leftover dough can be combined and cut again, but no more than 1 or 2 times.
Place the biscuits in the Dutch oven or on a baking sheet, almost touching each other.
Bake in a 450°F oven, using 22 coals on the lid and 11 underneath, for 12-15 until browned. After the biscuits are baked, brush tops with melted butter.
Makes 9 biscuits
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