Recently a friend sent me Nancy Silverton’s recipe for her famous all-butter buttermilk biscuits, warning “the amount of butter is DAUNTING.” It’s true. After one round in a two-person household with these biscuits, I set out to make them more distinctive with a few more layers of flavor and this recipe is the happy result of my research toward that goal.
For the most part, recipes for buttermilk biscuits call for a flour to butter ratio of 2:1 or less, but this recipe goes for straight up 1:1. That’s 1 part flour to 1 part butter, which makes for a decadent buttermilk biscuit. This part of Nancy’s recipe I left intact because I loved the richness of the dough and the buttery smell the house took on during baking.
This buttermilk biscuit recipe swaps out all of the all purpose flour for 3 cups all purpose, 1 cup dark rye and 1 cup whole wheat flour, and adds a nice sharp white cheddar to cut the overpowering pure butter flavor. The rye and whole wheat flours also contribute deeper flavors to compliment the heavy butter.
In place of buttermilk I’ve used half buttermilk and half whey, which is an infinitely useful byproduct of homemade yogurt making, or in the Lebanese tradition, homemade labneh making. Whey imparts a lighter texture as well as adding more digestibility and nutrition to the standard buttermilk biscuit.
The method is very straightforward and simple, even though it entails planning and patience, because when you use this much butter, your dough needs to be chilled and relaxed so that when popped into the oven, the butter does not melt but rather creates steam to spawn those lovely luscious layers that are the hallmark of all great buttermilk biscuits. If you are like me and consider skipping the folding and rolling steps, change your mind now. It makes such a difference. The biscuits bake quickly in 15 – 17 minutes and I recommend serving them with just a little more butter, and jam, or using them to mop up fried eggs, and do keep in mind that leftover biscuits are also wonderful for petite sandwiches.
A nutritious and delicious recipe for buttermilk biscuits using dark rye flour, sharp white cheddar cheese and whey
3 cups All-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup dark rye flour
5 sticks butter, chilled (I use a good European style butter such as Plugra)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp sale (preferably kosher)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup whey
1/2 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Mix together flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.
- Cut butter into 1/2 inch chunks and add to flour mixture. Rub butter into flour with hands, or cut with a pastry cutter, until mixture resembles small peas or very coarse sand.
- Pour buttermilk and whey into flour-butter mixture and bring dough together, being careful to not over-mix, into a large disk. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour and up to a week. The longer you refrigerate the more flaky, crispy and croissant-like your biscuits will be.
- Remove dough from refrigerator and roll into a rectangular approximately 10″ x 7″. Fold into thirds like an envelope and roll out, repeating this sequence at least 3 times. In your final roll out, aim for a rectangle of approximately 12: x 10″.
- Cut 12 biscuits into desired shape and place on a greased baking pan. Transfer pan to freezer for 2 hours, covering the biscuits with saran wrap or a towel.
- Bake biscuits for approximately 15 – 17 minutes, or until golden brown and flaky. Cool for a minute or two and EAT!