I am from California and Ben is from Georgia. I move fast, he moves slow. I am big picture, he is precision and detail. We come from two different worlds. This is the true story of how buttermilk biscuits brought us together.
In the early days of my career, I was a day prep cook at a restaurant in Athens, Georgia. Ben was a Pastry Chef there. It was a relatively small kitchen so there would be a few days early in the week when it was just the two of us, working and talking. We talked a lot. We developed a strong friendship. Every Sunday brunch, Ben was responsible for making buttermilk biscuits. When he had the dough laid out on the prep table, I would walk by and punch it. Once, just once. It was my contribution to the finest biscuits served in Athens. It became a ritual for us. After the biscuits were baked, Ben would offer me one. Warm, fresh from the oven biscuits with butter are out of this world. Soon, Ben started making my biscuits more elaborate. One week it would have melted pimento cheese. The next week, maybe country ham and a fried egg. He would wrap them in foil and pass them across the line to me before service began. I loved those biscuits. I used to tell him that if he made biscuits for me everyday, I might have to marry him.
Well, I don’t eat biscuits every day but we are engaged to be married. I don’t make biscuits. I can’t. I won’t. You see, the only biscuits I want to eat are the ones that Ben makes for me. So if you see them on our menu, you can bet that I punched the dough, but that they are made with love by Ben.
This is his recipe. The recipe is simple, but its all about technique.
Ben’s Buttermilk Biscuits
Yields- about 24
8 cups flour plus an additional 1 cup
4 tablespoons of baking powder
2 tablespoons of kosher salt
1 pound unsalted butter plus an additional 3 tablespoons
3 ½ cups whole buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
Using a box grater, grate 1 pound of butter into a dish or bowl. You want your butter to be very cold so place into the freezer while you gather the rest of the ingredients. In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together 8 cups of flour and the baking powder. Add in salt and mix together. When butter is very cold and hard, about 10 minutes in the freezer, add it all at once to the flour. Using your fingers, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of small pebbles. Add in buttermilk and use your hands to gently bring the dough together. Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured table or countertop and lightly dust with about half of the reserved 1 cup of flour. Knead dough just till it comes together, careful not to overwork it as this will make for tough biscuits. Lightly dust a rolling pin with some of the reserved flour and begin rolling out the dough until it is uniformly 1 inch thick. Next you will fold the dough to create air pockets, this will give the biscuits beautiful flaky layers. Fold the dough in half top to bottom, lightly roll out dough and fold in half again, this time from side to side. Roll the dough out to a uniformly 1 inch thickness.
Use a 3 inch biscuit cutter to stamp out the biscuits. Place on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. With the remaining dough scraps, form back into a ball and roll out to 1 inch thickness. Stamp out more biscuits. Any remaning dough scraps can be discarded, by now too much gluten has developed. Melt the reserved 3 tablespoons of butter and brush the tops of the biscuits. This will help give them a lovely golden brown color. Bake biscuits for 15-17 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
*You can also freeze the unbaked biscuits for another time. Place on a tray and freeze until solid, then package in Ziploc bags. You don’t need to thaw before cooking, simply place frozen biscuits on a tray and bake. They may take a little longer to bake, around 20 minutes.