3-Ingredient Buttermilk Biscuits

Saturday, April 04, 2020

I know what you might be thinking. Another biscuit recipe? It's no secret that buttermilk biscuits have been one of my favorite adventures on the blog. My original tutorial was published in 2014, with a follow-up lesson a couple years later. If you've never made biscuits, those two posts contain lots of detailed information about making biscuits from scratch, so please take some time to read if you're into the how's and why's. I've also made other varieties like sweet potato, pumpkin, blueberry cardamom biscuits, and strawberry scones. All of them follow similar techniques based on the original recipe. The version I'm excited to share today seems appropriate for the way our pantries might be looking lately. I've whittled the ingredient list down to three products: Self-rising flour, buttermilk powder, and butter. You'll also need a cup of water, which I'm not counting as a real ingredient here.

Self-rising flour is all-purpose flour with the addition of salt and leavening agents, so there is no need for baking powder or baking soda as with the original recipe. People have been making biscuits using self-rising flour since...forever. I'm just hella late. It's not something I usually have on hand, but when I ended up with the wrong flour after a grocery delivery I just stuck it in the freezer and forgot all about it. Lo and behold, there's a flour shortage in the stores now so it came in handy! What I completely missed about King Arthur's Flour is that it's made with soft winter wheat, which has a lower protein content than typical all-purpose flour. You may recall my affinity for White Lily Flour. Well, this is made from a similar flour. I wouldn't say that it's as light, but it's close enough for biscuits. The ratio is 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder per cup of flour, which is exactly what my old recipe calls for.  I added some extra butter in the recipe to account for the flour we add when working with the dough on the counter. The nice thing about using self-rising is that you can do that without throwing off your leavener ratio.

Buttermilk powder is made from "a cultured blend of sweet cream churned buttermilk, sweet dairy whey, and lactic acid." In layman's terms, it's made from dehydrating the byproduct of churned butter. That's the traditional way of making buttermilk, which is unlike the cultured buttermilk most of us buy in the store. All you need to do is add the buttermilk powder to your dry ingredients, then hydrate with cold water. I was very skeptical as I'm usually never without a jug of buttermilk in the fridge. But the results were just as good. So in the future, I'll be keeping the buttermilk powder around. (The commercial liquid buttermilk is still best for things like chicken marinades and my buttermilk pie.) If you do have full-fat buttermilk on hand, you can swap in one cup instead of the powder/water in this recipe.

Unsalted butter
was used for this recipe. In my last tutorial, I switched to salted butter. I wasn't sure how salty the flour would be so I stuck with unsalted this time. I doubt the difference would make or break your batch of biscuits. I still recommend using a European style butter if you can, because of the higher fat content - that does make a difference in the rise as well. I skipped the butter-flavored shortening that was in my old recipes, but if you were short on butter that could be used to make up the difference.

3-Ingredient Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups self-rising flour, plus an additional 1/4 cup set aside
1/4 cup buttermilk powder
10 TBSP unsalted butter, chilled or frozen, plus additional 2 TBSP melted
1 cup ice-cold water

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: Makes about 8 biscuits
Recommended equipment (affiliate links): box grater (optional), heavy-duty sheet pan, parchment paper or a silicone liner, dough scraper, large mixing bowl, silicone spatula, pastry brush

In your mixing bowl, stir the flour and buttermilk powder together. 

If you're comfortable cutting in the butter by hand, use your dough scraper to chop it up into cubes. Use your fingers to press the butter into large flakes throughout the flour mixture. Work quickly so the butter doesn't melt.

If this part terrifies you, use frozen butter instead, and grate it on the large holes of a box cutter.

Gradually pour the cold water over the flour, tossing with your silicone spatula to distribute the liquid. Keep going until you get a loose, sticky dough. It should not be totally saturated, just wet enough to come together. You may not need all of the water.

It's really important not to overmix. The more you work the dough, gluten forms, which will toughen your biscuits.

Sprinkle some of the reserved flour over a clean area of your counter and dump out the dough. Press the dough out until it's about an inch thick, then use your dough scraper to lift and fold the dough over in sections, like an envelope. Press the dough out again, and repeat. You can use a little flour here and there to prevent sticking. The dough should feel very light and airy.

Note: If you prefer to use a rolling pin to laminate the dough, you'll get slightly more defined layers, but you'll need to work quickly and be careful not to overwork the dough.

Press the dough out one more time and use your dough scraper to slice it into square biscuits. You can get about 6 large biscuits or 8 smaller biscuits. I prefer the smaller ones, which are easier to cook through evenly. Just cut straight up and down to preserve the layers in the biscuit. As you'll notice, no round biscuit cutter here. I really don't see the advantage of wasting biscuit dough anymore!

Slide those cut biscuits onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, spreading them out with a couple inches of space in between. Stick the pan in the fridge or freezer while you preheat the oven to 450°F. Once the oven is hot, bake for 13-15 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and no doughy areas appear around the sides.

Brush the tops with melted butter before serving!

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  1. Thank you for this! A friend generously gifted me some self-rising flour and I've been wondering what to do with it. Do you think it would be possible to substitute the buttermilk powder with some yogurt?

  2. I've made these at work. They were a hit and super easy.

  3. Everything you post always looks delicious. Too bad I have extremely picky kids. Thank you for all of the great recipes you post.

  4. I cannot wait to try this. I have never even heard of buttermilk powder until today.

  5. Buttermilk Powder is not available where I live. Can buttermilk be used and if so ...how much?

  6. First time making biscuits. Recipe was easy to follow. Thank you!

  7. Best mother licking biscuits ice ever made!!! And no more being beholden to buttermilk! So fast and easy and so good!!!

  8. Walmart has it if you're near one.

  9. I wanted to make these the minute I saw your picture on King Arthur Flour's instagram! I used a different brand of self rising flour since that was what I have. And liquid buttermilk. My biscuits didn't taste good at all. Thinking that the flour was bad, I took a pinch and tasted it. It didn't taste bad. What else could be wrong?

  10. Fantastic recipe. Thank you for posting - easy and turned out the best homemade biscuits I've made.