There's a biscuit mania gripping the city at the moment and with good reason: biscuits are freaking delicious. Comforting, hearty, buttery, fluffy—what's not to like about these beautiful, golden rounds of dough? While heeding the call of the biscuit at 3 a.m. would be better suited to an on-the-go eatery, baking biscuits at home means you're rewarded with not only some melt-in-your-mouth baked goods whenever you want them but also the satisfaction of making something with your own two hands. Pillsbury, schmillsbury!

With a few basic ingredients—most of which you likely already have in your pantry—and some equally basic kitchen supplies—mostly your hands—you can whip up a batch of homey biscuits in just about 30 minutes, about the same amount of time you'd spend waiting on line at a certain recently opened downtown eatery.

Stay tuned tomorrow and Friday for how to make your own Sausage Gravy plus fruit jams and cheese spreads.

Now let's get baked.

Biscuit Ingredients (Not pictured because whoopsie I was working fast and forgot!)

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cubed and chilled
  • 2 tablespoons shortening, chilled (trans fat-free because ew yeah. Use a brand like Spectrum)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (yes, regular milk works too), chilled

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In my parent's super-fancy-oh-wait-is-this-actually-a-space-ship? oven this took about five minutes; I'm guessing the dust-and-dirty-dish-filled model you're rocking might take a little longer, so plan accordingly.

It's time to start on the biscuits. Now, let me be very clear: I am not from the South. My mama didn't bake fresh biscuits in her seasoned cast-iron pan; I didn't grow up eating Chicken Biscuits with my friends after school; and I certainly don't claim to know "the right way" to make biscuits, if such a thing even exists. What I do know is that biscuits are delicious, easy to make and—provided you follow a few guildelines—difficult to fuck up.

One of those guidelines has to do with the temperature of the fat, i.e. the butter and shortening. Look at any recipe for biscuits/pastry and they'll all say the same thing: keep your fat as cold as possible and work the dough quickly and as little as possible so the fat remains solid. I'm not Alton Brown so I can't/won't give you a science lesson here (that's what Google is for) so you're just going to have to take this lesson at face value.

111113biscuit_cutter.jpg
The best part about your parent's kitchen: obscure gadgets (Nell Casey/Gothamist)

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl then add the cold butter and shortening. Working quickly, gently start to break apart the chunks of fat into the flour with your fingers. If you're lucky, you have terrible circulation or a drafty apartment and your fingers will be ice cold, preventing the butter from warming too quickly. If your landlord doesn't hold the heat hostage, you'll want to to think about using a pastry blender (as seen above). At last resort—because you are old-school and don't need fancy gadgets!—you may use your food processor; make sure to pulse lightly so not to over mix.

Whatever your method, work the dough lightly and quickly until it's mostly incorporated and resembles little crumbles. Ideally, those crumbles are composed of delicious orbs of butter and shortening, which will make your biscuits fluffy and buttery and delicious.

111113biscuit_ball.jpg
Wanna Whole Ballo Love (Nell Casey/Gothamist)

Make a little well/hole/space in the center of your biscuit mix and pour in half of the buttermilk. Gently start folding and stirring, adding more buttermilk, until the mixture comes together to form a loose mass. Dump the biscuit mixture on a clean surface—LIKE REALLY, REALLY CLEAN PLEASE WASH YOUR COUNTER—with lots of flour. Bring the biscuit mixture together with your hands, then fold the dough over on itself a few times so it's more cohesive. Gently smoosh (technical term) the dough out with your fingers until it's about one inch thick.

111113biscuit_circle.jpg
See all that butter? Mmmm (Nell Casey/Gothamist)

Using a biscuit cutter...what's that? You don't have a biscuit cutter?!? You knew you were making biscuits, friend, don't tell me you're unprepared! Fine, fine, fine. In lieu of the proper cutting utensils, a clean, empty soup can works just fine so long as it's well floured so the biscuits pop out easily.

Okay back to the task at hand: cut out as many biscuits as you can from your initial circle. Place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet with enough space between them for maximum puffage (technical term). Recombine the scraps from the first round of cutting, reform into a circle and cut out as many as you can. The subsequent rounds of biscuits won't be quite as fluffy but you're going to be drowning them in butter and gravy and shoving them in your mouth hole not parading them in front of Dominique Ansel so just relax.

111113biscuit_cut.jpg
Soon...sooooon (Nell Casey/Gothamist)

Lovingly place your biscuits into the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until they've puffed up and developed a beautiful golden color. Evacuate and serve immediately with one—or all!—of the toppings featured in tomorrow's post. Although, just slathering with more butter wouldn't be a terrible option either.

111213biscuit_one.jpg
Don't let that biscuit be lonely! (Nell Casey/Gothamist)