I grew up thinking that biscuits came from a can, the kind you unwrap and press a spoon into the side of until POP! dough seeps out the sides and you put them on a cookie sheet and bake them. I loved them. We’d make them with Grandma Ginny and eat them with homemade jam. Or we’d put our thumbs through the middle and fry the dough in hot oil in a cast iron skillet to make donuts. Also delicious, particularly after shaking them in paper bags full of cinnamon and sugar. Everything else was made from scratch, but not biscuits. Those were Pillsbury’s finest, in the wide blue can.
Then I went to college in Virginia.
Virginians do not get their biscuits from a can. Nor do they get them in the freezer aisle.
And they are right. A homemade biscuit is a thing of glory. It makes sausage and gravy taste richer. It makes jam taste jammier. It transforms a single slice of cheese into a glorious sandwich.
The best part? They aren’t difficult to make. In fact, they’re on my hungover baking list. The list of what I’m willing to make for breakfast when I’m hungover is short. It can’t use more than one pan, and the active time must be less than 10 minutes. A Dutch Baby pancake meets this requirement. The six ingredient scones meet this requirement. A fried egg sandwich and an “egg calzone” using store bought pizza dough do, too.
I’ve made dozens of different recipes for biscuits, but when I’m jonesing for a quick fix of buttery goodness I go for this one. It’s a variation of Sam Sifton’s All Purpose Biscuits recipe from the New York Times. Based on research, this is a variation of every single biscuit recipe ever created.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- 2 cups flour – the regular stuff you always have on hand
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk – whatever cows milk you have will work, the more fat the richer the biscuit
- 5 tablespoons butter – whatever you’ve got in the fridge
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl that’s big enough you can get both hands into while mixing up the dough. Blend dry ingredients with a fork.
Cut the very cold butter into small cubes (I usually cut down the middle, flip, cut down the middle again, then slice into half inch or smaller pieces. The smaller you cut the butter, the more quickly it will cut into the flour).
Add the butter to the dry ingredients. With your hands or a pastry cutter (I like this style that bends a bit. I think the more common rigid blades don’t blend as well), cut the butter into the flour until it’s flaky and the butter is between the size of a lentil and a green pea.
Pour the milk on top of the mixture and blend until the dough is thoroughly wet and holding together. Don’t overmix it.
Dump the dough onto a clean floured surface and roll it until it’s about an inch thick. Fold it in half over itself and roll again. Do that three or four times.
If you have time to spare, cover the dough with a cloth and let it rest for a bit. The biscuits will rise better if you let them rest. If you’re in a hurry, they’ll still taste great and look pretty good.
When ready, cut the biscuits with the edge of a glass. I use a mason jar because I’m a milennial who got married between 2012 and 2017 therefore I own literally hundreds of mason jars. I usually get 5-6 good sized biscuits, which take a bit longer to bake than if I use a smaller glass.
Bake in a cast iron skillet or on a cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes. The tops should be golden brown, and the bottoms should be the same color.
Eat immediately, with any topping. If you’re really winning the wife game, you’ll have a few servings of sausage gravy in the freezer waiting for a lazy morning when you don’t want to make a greasy mess. If you’re a nomad, you’ll scrounge in Gwen’s refrigerator for jelly.
Recovering journalist who discovered a life outside of news leaves you time for things like getting angry, cooking and traveling. Plus, hopefully, writing. I’m a wife, dog mom and Washingtonian.