I have been attempting to make the perfect biscuit for about a year now. And failing, miserably, every time. I knew I just needed to find the right recipe, so I tried dozens of different ones with the same result: hockey pucks. I really should have known better, but i’d lost my biscuit mojo and just couldn’t get it back. Until last week, when I finally mastered the art of biscuit-making.
I finally got around to a long neglected task: organizing a file full of recipes clipped out of various newspapers and magazines. In it I found a New York Times recipe for Scott Peacock’s Classic Buttermilk Biscuits. It sounded promising- lots of butter and salt and a very different recipe than any i’d tried before. The biscuits turned out better than I could have imagined, tall and puffy and ready to be split. I was worried about the 500 degree baking temperature, but maybe that was the magic missing link to perfection. That, or the fact that you mix your own baking powder out of cream of tartar and baking soda.
This recipe also has the added bonus of being really fun (and slightly messy) to make.
Scott Peacock’s Classic Buttermilk Biscuits:
Makes 12-20 biscuits, depending on the size of your biscuit cutter. I recommend halving the recipe- these biscuits are big!
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
5 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed.
1 Tablespoon plus one teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
2 cups chilled cultured buttermilk, plus more as needed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Set a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Sift together the cream of tartar and baking soda to make baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the butter. Working quickly, rub it between your fingertips until half is coarsely blended and the remaining pieces are 3/4-inch thick.
Make a well in the center of the flour. Add all the buttermilk and stir the mixture quickly, just until it has blended and a sticky dough forms. (If the dough appears dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons buttermilk.)
Immediately turn the dough onto a generously floured surface. Using floured hands, briskly knead about 10 times until a ball forms. Gently flatten the dough and, using a floured rolling pin, roll to 3/4-inch thick.
Using a fork dipped in flour, pierce the dough through at 1/2-inch intervals. Flour a 2 1/2- or 3-inch biscuit cutter. Stamp out rounds and arrange on a heavy, parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. Remove and brush with melted butter. Serve hot.