Light & Flaky Best-Ever Buttermilk Biscuits

On the morning of our second day in Thailand, we found ourselves in a disastrous state. After 30+ hours of flying from Boston to Bangkok, we decided to spend our entire first day in the county walking around the city, hoping to stave off jet lag and explore.

We found some good food, relaxed at our hotel, showered, then caught a water taxi headed toward some of the most famous tourist attractions in the city. Sean wanted to explore the royal palace, so after seeing a few temples, we walked 2 miles to the palace — only to find mourners covering the streets (the king had died several months prior) and the doors closed. Frustrated, we decided to take a taxi to the floating market, but every driver wanted to charge us nearly triple the usual rate because of our clear tourist status. Sean nearly lost it on the street as we trekked those two miles back to the ferry terminal, where we knew we could catch a water taxi back to our hotel — but after another hour of waiting, it was clear that the taxi wasn’t coming. I sat on the edge of an ornate wall, head in my hands, sweating in the 100 degree weather and feeling like my head was about to explode. Finally, I marched us to a tuk tuk, agreed to pay many multiples of what the journey was actually worth, and pulled Sean into the cart beside me. We fell asleep at 7 pm that evening, stomachs full of subpar pad thai and feet aching.

Needless to say, we woke up the next morning feeling rested but resistant to any other tourist activities. Instead, I googled “nice spas near me” during breakfast. An hour later, Sean and I found ourselves wrapped in soft Thai robes, half asleep as we enjoyed foot reflexology and Thai massage treatments. The 3-hour session was only $25 per person.

That day reminded me that while badass traveling and exploring can be awesome, it’s also hard. Sometimes you just need a break. If we’d pushed it for another day, we would have been miserable — and instead, we ended that second day in Thailand feeling rejuvenated and relaxed.

This biscuit recipe is kind of like that $25 massage session: a little bit of effort, but beyond indulgent. Each biscuit has enough butter to sink a ship — and I guarantee, you won’t find yourself complaining.

Light & Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

Makes 12-16 biscuits, depending on size. Recipe from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.
  • 16 T unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and chilled
  • 1 cup buttermilk, chilled
  • 3.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 t baking powder
  • 1 t kosher salt (or 1/2 t fine sea salt)
  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled (plus 1/4 cup more for brushing the biscuits)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Freeze the butter cubes and buttermilk for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and stir at low speed in a stand mixer (with a paddle attachment) for about 30 seconds, until combined. Add in half of the butter, a few pieces at a time, mixing at low speed for about 8 minutes. When you’re done, the mixture should look sandy and you shouldn’t be able to see big pieces of butter.

Next, add in the rest of the butter and keep mixing until the butter pieces are the size of peas, about 4 minutes more. Use your fingers to flatten the largest pieces of butter. (Samin, the author of this recipe, suggests making the “money” symbol with your thumb and forefinger to smash the butter.)

Create a well (a small hole) in the middle of the bowl, pushing the dry mixture up the sides, then add buttermilk and 1 cup of cream to the well. Mix this up with a spatula (not the stand mixer) until the dough comes together loosely. The dough will likely look shaggy, but Samin says this is fine.

Flour the counter lightly and turn the dough out onto it, patting it into a 3/4 inch-thick rectangle. Fold the dough in half, then fold it again, then fold it a third time and use a rolling pin to gently roll the whole thing back out into a 3/4 inch rectangle (this will give you those yummy pull-apart layers). Next, fold the dough one last time and roll it out to 1 inch thick, then cut out biscuits with a cup or biscuit cutter. Re-roll the scraps and turn them into additional (albeit slightly less pretty) biscuits.

Put the biscuits on a baking sheet (ideally, you should use parchment paper — if you don’t have it, lightly grease the pan) about 1/2 inch apart and brush them generously with cream. Then bake them at 450 degrees for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, rotate the pan for even cooking and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown.

Cool the biscuits on a rack for 5 minutes and serve warm, ideally with honey butter or homemade strawberry jam.

If you want to freeze these biscuits for later use (which I highly recommend  — there’s nothing like being able to make yourself a homemade biscuit on a Friday morning!), put the biscuits (before baking them) on a baking sheet and stick them into the freezer for 15 minutes. Once they’re frozen, you can transfer the biscuits to a plastic bag. To bake, just pull them directly from the freezer, brush with cream, and bake for 10 minutes at 450 and 10 minutes at 375.

*****Btw, this recipe is from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, which is a life-changing cookbook. Not only is it chock full of crazy-good recipes, but it’s also a handbook for learning how to cook in a basic, flavors-inspired way. You can watch Samin, the author of this cookbook, make these biscuits, here:

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