These southern-style biscuits are big, fluffy and buttery just as biscuits should be. I like biscuits big enough to turn into breakfast sandwiches, piled with bacon egg and cheese or fried chicken. While they are great as sandwiches, they are also delicious standing on their own served with butter and honey.
While everyone has their tips and tricks when making biscuits, if you want ones with lots of layers, then the key is to not overwork the dough. In fact, you want to have your hands on the dough as little as possible. If the butter melts into the dough before baking then it won't melt in the oven and create those flakey layers. And, make sure that the butter is cold, so that it will not melt into the dough before baking. As you are cutting the biscuits with the cutter be sure not to twist as you cut the dough, as this will crimp the sides down and prevent layers from forming.
Chef Anne Willan once told me that I have hot hands, not a great feature for making pastries. So, when making biscuits, I have to be extra careful to not overwork the dough so that I don’t melt the butter with my "hot hands"!
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
¼ cup baking powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into ½-inch chunks,
2 cups chilled buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425º.
Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter to the bowl and use a pastry cutter or a fork to cut the butter into the flour. Do this until the mixture resembles rough crumbs and the butter is still in pieces. Add the buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon until a loose, sticky dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Use your hands to shape the dough into a rectangle. Fold the dough over and reshape again into a rectangle about 1½-inches thick. Cut the dough into biscuits by pressing straight down, using a 3-inch biscuit cutter. Reshape the dough as needed to continue cutting biscuits.
Place the biscuits on a greased cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Makes about 10 (3-inch) biscuits.