How to Bake Everything: Buttermilk Biscuits

Text and photos by Emily Stephenson

One of my favorite ways to use a big, exhaustive cookbook is to flip to the index and figure out how to make use of an ingredient I’ve already got. This week, it was about a cup of buttermilk, and I turned to How to Bake Everything.

I wanted to make something that wouldn’t require a trip to the grocery store, which made whittling down my options easy: no Buttermilk Pie or Bars because I didn’t have cream to make a custard, no cakes because I don’t own an electric mixer (no way I’m going to cream the butter and sugar by hand!), and no cookies because I had less than a stick of butter in the fridge. What did that leave? After about 2 minutes of narrowing down, only one option: Buttermilk Biscuits.

I mixed the ingredients together and had a batch of hot biscuits, fresh from the oven, in less than 30 minutes. I followed the recipe, making a few adjustments: I cut the dough into small square biscuits because I felt like it; I didn’t brush the tops with milk because I didn’t have any; and they weren’t as flakey as they could have been because my refrigerator died and it was a race against time to use already-warming butter. Oh well. They still tasted great and this is real-life cooking.

I use this “what can I do with” method with cookbooks all the time. What can I make with this bunch of chard that’s going to go south in another day? How can I get a meal out of pasta and a handful of pantry items? How else can I use this spice I bought especially for one recipe? Doing this introduces me to new ideas, and helps me develop cooking intuition. Once I’ve made a recipe—buttermilk biscuits, for example—I usually find I want to keep the item around, now that I know all the possibilities.

Plus, I’ve got some new things I want to try, like that Buttermilk Pie, which sounded really great!

Disclaimer: I am not a Southerner, and rarely make biscuits. I know this is a food that inspires strong opinions in people and it is not one I know well. Any biscuit-making tips are welcome in the comments!

Posted in Baking


  1. Brian and Barbara Comnes said...

    A good trick is to allow the kneaded and flattened dough l to.sit in the fridge for 30 minutes before cutting…they rise higher as a result

    Trimming he rounded dough edges off also eliminates lopsided biscuits because the folded gluten holds that side down

  2. Joan Maes said...

    Southerner or not, your buicuits look fabulous. Buttermilk pie is so good!! It’s a very sweet and custard-like pie, but dessert should be sweet, right?

  3. TAC said...

    A Pin button on your site would be handy!

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