Buttermilk Biscuits

Years ago I tested appliances for Consumer’s Digest Magazine and once had the good fortune to try out about eight different bread-making machines (that was back in the day when these machines were the rage). If you have a bread-making machine, do you remember which closet you stuck it in? (The one I eventually bought is in my basement.) One of the most interesting models was a Toastmaster. Not only could it be used to make a loaf of bread, I could also make butter in it. Which I did. I remember buying heavy sweet cream and pouring it into the machine, pressing a few buttons and in a few minutes, voila! there was the freshest, sweetest, creamiest butter I EVER tasted. I smeared it on the bread I had baked in the machine. That was a delicious day. Of course, at the bottom of the container was a big bonus: real, fresh buttermilk, the liquid left over when you churn cream into butter. After I finished my work I poured it into a glass and drank it, with its teeny butter spots and all, down in a couple of gulps. If you’ve never tasted fresh buttermilk, you’ve missed a goodie. It’s thin, tangy and extraordinarily thirst quenching. Different. Special. I haven’t made butter (or buttermilk since then). I buy buttermilk the way most folks do, in the supermarket. It’s not really made the way I made mine. Commercial buttermilk is made by combining skim or low-fat milk with specific cultures and thickeners. It doesn’t have that “just-churned” taste, but it’s still quite delicious to drink or poured over cold cereal. Although buttermilk has become a bit more popular in recent years because it contains probiotics, most people I know shiver at the thought of drinking it. But I say: give it a try. If not as a beverage by itself, then perhaps in a smoothie.  At the very least, use it to make muffins, pancakes, cornbread, banana bread and stuff like that. Buttermilk makes all these baked items incredibly crumbly/tender. Or make it into Ranch Dressing. Or use it for cream soups. Sometimes people tell me that they don’t want to buy buttermilk because they’re only going to use it for one recipe and it’s not worth getting a whole quart. But really, once you have it in the house, and you try it, you’re going to use it again. I promise. Like for these biscuits: Buttermilk Biscuits 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup cake flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 3/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon peel, optional 8 tablespoons cold butter 2/3 cup buttermilk   Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Sift the flour, cake flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a bowl. Stir in the lemon peel, if used. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the bowl. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour in the buttermilk and mix until you can form a soft ball of dough. Try not to pound or overwork the dough (this makes the biscuits tough). Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead a couple of times. Roll or press the dough gently to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out circles with a doughnut cutter or the bottom of a glass. Place the circles one inch apart (for darker biscuits) or close together (for fluffier biscuits) on the cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes or until they have risen and are lightly browned. Makes about 10  

Years ago I tested appliances for Consumer’s Digest Magazine and once had the good fortune to try out about eight different bread-making machines (that was back in the day when these machines were the rage).

If you have a bread-making machine, do you remember which closet you stuck it in? (The one I eventually bought is in my basement.)

One of the most interesting models was a Toastmaster. Not only could it be used to make a loaf of bread, I could also make butter in it.

Which I did.

I remember buying heavy sweet cream and pouring it into the machine, pressing a few buttons and in a few minutes, voila! there was the freshest, sweetest, creamiest butter I EVER tasted. I smeared it on the bread I had baked in the machine. That was a delicious day.

Of course, at the bottom of the container was a big bonus: real, fresh buttermilk, the liquid left over when you churn cream into butter. After I finished my work I poured it into a glass and drank it, with its teeny butter spots and all, down in a couple of gulps.

If you’ve never tasted fresh buttermilk, you’ve missed a goodie. It’s thin, tangy and extraordinarily thirst quenching. Different. Special.

I haven’t made butter (or buttermilk since then). I buy buttermilk the way most folks do, in the supermarket. It’s not really made the way I made mine. Commercial buttermilk is made by combining skim or low-fat milk with specific cultures and thickeners. It doesn’t have that “just-churned” taste, but it’s still quite delicious to drink or poured over cold cereal.

Although buttermilk has become a bit more popular in recent years because it contains probiotics, most people I know shiver at the thought of drinking it. But I say: give it a try. If not as a beverage by itself, then perhaps in a smoothie. 

At the very least, use it to make muffins, pancakes, cornbread, banana bread and stuff like that. Buttermilk makes all these baked items incredibly crumbly/tender. Or make it into Ranch Dressing. Or use it for cream soups.

Sometimes people tell me that they don’t want to buy buttermilk because they’re only going to use it for one recipe and it’s not worth getting a whole quart. But really, once you have it in the house, and you try it, you’re going to use it again. I promise.

Like for these biscuits:

Buttermilk Biscuits

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon peel, optional

8 tablespoons cold butter

2/3 cup buttermilk

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Sift the flour, cake flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a bowl. Stir in the lemon peel, if used. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the bowl. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour in the buttermilk and mix until you can form a soft ball of dough. Try not to pound or overwork the dough (this makes the biscuits tough). Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead a couple of times. Roll or press the dough gently to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out circles with a doughnut cutter or the bottom of a glass. Place the circles one inch apart (for darker biscuits) or close together (for fluffier biscuits) on the cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes or until they have risen and are lightly browned. Makes about 10