When I have my grandparents over for dinner, I always make these biscuits. My Grandpa, who is the best, will forgo dessert every time for one more biscuit with jam. I wonder if it reminds him of a simpler time. He lost his mother at a very young age and had to take over the household chores, cooking and cleaning, while his dad and brothers worked during the great depression. In Oklahoma, no less. So, just know, these biscuits are special.
They're not the most beautiful. I'll give that award to rolled biscuits. But, my mom made drop biscuits, and that's what I make. They're craggy and tender and buttery and light, and beautifully easy. And that's beautiful enough for me.
Two things about these biscuits. You need buttermilk or whey (if you make yogurt and if you don't make yogurt, try it with this easy recipe), on hand. I quite often have both. Whey makes for a seriously soft crumb. The Mister prefers a whey biscuit to a buttermilk biscuit. And, they're a bit fussy. By that I mean, you have to melt the butter beforehand. If you forget, you have to wait a minute or two while the butter melts and cools so it isn't blazing hot. But once you get the hang of it, you can crank them out lickity split.
adapted from America's Test Kitchen
2 Cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 Cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 Cup cold buttermilk or cold whey (I know, that's me for you. Random, weird-ass ingredient nobody else has)
Preheat oven to 450 F.
Now, the very next thing you must do, before anything else, is get a small saucepan, put your stick of butter in it, and start melting it over low heat. As soon as it's mostly melted, remove it from the heat and let the residual heat from the warm pot melt the rest. This will also help cool the butter a bit faster.
You want the melted butter to range in temperature from room temperature to just a bit warm. The magic comes when you add the melted butter to the cold buttermilk or whey!
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large-ish bowl.
Pour your buttermilk into a measuring cup, then pour the cooled, melted butter into the buttermilk. Stir. You want the cold buttermilk to rapidly cool the butter so that it makes hard little butter bits in the buttermilk. The reason for this is SCIENCE!!! Once the biscuits go in the oven, the butter is going to melt and create steam which is going to make for light and fluffy drop biscuits.
See, the cold buttermilk has turned the melted butter into hardened butter bits.
Now, pour your buttermilk/hardened butter bits mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
On a cookie sheet topped with parchment, portion out the dough into 12 dough balls. I like to make them taller versus wider. This is because I find splitting a tall biscuit easier than a flat biscuit. Pro tip, there.
Now, I cook mine for 12 to 13 minutes. They come out lightly golden, perfectly poofed, and wonderful. Yours might take 11 minutes. Or 15. Pay attention the first couple of times. You're not looking for dark golden brown here.
And that's it. My family doesn't even let them cool before they're splitting them open and slathering on butter and jam.