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Flaky buttermilk biscuits

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The flakiest buttermilk biscuits EVER. Plus make-ahead and 'single-serve' directions.
Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated.
Course Breakfast, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword baking
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Servings 9


  • box grater
  • bench scraper
  • pastry brush


  • 3 cups all purpose flour (450 grams)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 16 tbsp unsalted butter (2 sticks) frozen for 30 minutes or more
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk fridge cold


  • Set out a baking sheet and cover with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Score your butter wrapper at the 2 tablespoon mark, and unwrap the long end, exposing 6 tablespoons, and leaving that small piece of wrapper - this will be your ‘handle’ for grating! Repeat with the second stick. Holding the wrapper end, grate the 6 tablespoons of each stick on a box grater, directly into the bowl (for 12 tablespoons total). Lightly toss the grated butter in the flour mixture until coated in flour. Set 1 tablespoon of butter aside, and set the remaining 3 tablespoons away for another use.
  • Pour the buttermilk into the bowl and mix with a spatula until just starting to come together in a shaggy mass.
  • Use the spatula to transfer the mixture to a well-floured surface, and pat it into a 7 inch (still messy) square.
  • Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll dough into 12 by 9-inch rectangle with the 9 inch side parallel to the edge of the counter. With the help of a bench scraper or spatula, fold the dough into thirds like a business letter. Seal the edge of the ‘letter’. Turn dough 90 degrees clockwise. Repeat rolling into a 12 by 9-inch rectangle, folding into thirds, sealing, and turning clockwise, 3 more times, for a total of 4 sets of folds. Keep flouring the surface to avoid sticking between folds.
  • After the last set of folds, roll dough into an 8 inch square. Transfer dough to the parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and arrange your oven rack in the middle. Melt the 1 tablespoons of butter you set side.
  • Transfer the dough to a cutting board, and trim about ¼ inch off the edges of the biscuit (you’ll see the beautiful layers inside!) Cut the biscuits into 9 equal squares and return to parchment lined sheet, spaced evenly apart. Roll the ‘trimmings’ into a spiral for a delicious ‘biscuit spiral'.
  • Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter and bake for 20- 25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown (not pale). Let cool slightly  (10 minutes or so) before serving.

Single Serve On-Demand Biscuits

  • After you’ve cut the biscuits into squares, place any biscuits you don’t want to eat right now on a parchment line baking sheet (leave some space between them). Freeze them until solid, then you can either individually wrap each one with beeswax wrap or throw them into a freezer bag.
  • Bake as many as you want at a time from frozen, for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

To make ahead:

  • Follow the single-serve directions with all the biscuits, and then bake all from frozen. I don’t recommend refrigerating these overnight as you won’t get as good a rise.