Impulsive Late Night Biscuit Ecstasy

Say what you will about me—call me bitter, call me mean, call me sometime, won’t you?—there’s one thing you can’t say: that I’m not impulsive.

Take these biscuits for example.

I had absolutely no reason to make them. I have bran muffins from the other night, remember? And I’m studying for the bar, remember? But I got bit by the biscuit bug and after reading a simple-enough sounding recipe in Cook’s Illustrated I vowed to whip up a batch at 11 and have them ready by 12.

Well my expectations were wildly surpassed: the biscuits were done at 11:40 and, more importantly, they were the best I’ve ever had. BETTER than the Silver Skillet’s which refused to share their recipe. Now I don’t need it.

Very quickly then I will share the recipe with you since I think you should make them too. The only strange ingredient you’ll need is buttermilk. I say strange because you’re not likely to have it in your fridge, but not strange in that you can’t run out and get it anywhere. And it adds a lot to the finished product.

Here is our ingredients list:


2 cups (10 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 Tbs double-acting baking powder

1 Tbs sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

4 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1.5 cups cold buttermilk, preferably low fat

To form and finish biscuits:

1 cup (5 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour, distributed in rimmed baking sheet

2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted

Now for the recipe. I’ll interspirce the steps with pictures from the process:

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Spray 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Generously spray inside and outside of 1/4 cup dry measure with nonstick cooking spray.

2. FOR THE DOUGH: In food processor, pulse flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda to combine, about six 1-second pulses. Scatter butter cubes evenly over dry ingredients;


pulse until mixture resembles pebbly, coarse cornmeal, eight to ten 1-second pulses. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Add buttermilk to dry ingredients


and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated (dough will be very wet and slightly lumpy).


3. TO FORM AND BAKE BISCUITS: Using 1/4 cup dry measure and working quickly, scoop level amount of dough; drop dough from measuring cup into flour on baking sheet (if dough sticks to cup, use small spoon to pull it free). Repeat with remaining dough, forming 12 evenly sized mounds.


Dust tops of each piece of dough with flour from baking sheet. With floured hands, gently pick up piece of dough and coat with flour; gently shape dough into rough ball, shake off excess flour, and place in prepared cake pan. Repeat with remaining dough, arranging 9 rounds around perimeter of cake pan and 3 in center. Brush rounds with hot melted butter, taking care not to flatten them.


Bake 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 450 degrees; continue to bake until biscuits are deep golden brown, about 15 minutes longer.

Cool in pan 2 minutes, then invert biscuits from pan onto clean kitchen towl;


Turn biscuits right side up and break apart. Cool 5 minutes longer and serve.


It’s times like these where those who insist on using prepared dough from a tube baffle me. This took me NO TIME and the results were, to quote Will Farrell as James Lipton: “Strumtrulescent.”

Seriously, these biscuits were light as a feather and tasty and buttery and perfect. As a bonus, I opened up my Nectarine-Apricot-Ginger jam and dammmmmmn girlfriend it tasted great. What a great combo. All on a whim. And what a whim it was.

25 thoughts on “Impulsive Late Night Biscuit Ecstasy”

  1. Those look good! Atlanta is rubbing off on you – beware. One suggestion, my grandma always uses White Lily self-rising flour in hers. But yours look awesome.

  2. Even if you don’t have buttermilk lying around, you can always just a little lemon juice or vinegar in some regular milk and let it sit for a couple minutes, making a sort of homemade buttermilk. I don’t know what they found with the biscuits, but I know in Cook’s Illustrated’s pancake recipe they said that this stuff made for a slightly better flavor than the buttermilk you get at the store.

  3. Since you are going to law school, you should know it is interspersed not interspirced.

  4. Biscuits.. don’t ya just love them? I just came back from a visit to the “holler” in West Virginia where making biscuits is akin to an olympic competition. Happy to say I have finally received the blue ribbon *grin* in biscuit making.. nothing like them warm from the oven with some butter and some good honey slathered on them.. but as a note, it works just as well with self rising flour and plain milk :-)


  5. Don’t follow Jill’s advice and “beware”! The best thing about the south is biscuits! Those look fantastic.

  6. Trivia: in Australia (and the UK), we call ’em scones (and the best ones of all are punpkin scones, mm mm mm). What you call a cookie, we call a biscuit. Or bikkie.

    Aren’t you edified by that useless knowledge?

  7. But Kate, what do you call scones in Australia? Meaning the things Americans call scones? Because a scone certainly isn’t a biscuit!

    Not useless trivia at all,

    Adam Who Loves Scones AND Biscuits

  8. You’re not alone in your baking madness — I baked A LOT when I was in law school! I think the reason why it was so cathartic and soothing was that I got instantaneous results — it either tasted great or it didn’t, whereas at my law school, you took one exam for each class at the end of the year, and your whole future was riding on those grades! Talk about postponing satisfaction. Don’t worry about being a baking fool, or for that matter a cooking fool, but stay in school, and be cool! ;)

  9. Made these last night… they are indeed fantastic! My husband has already requested a second batch.

    He claims that Irish soda bread is somewhat similar in the method of baking and the inclusion of buttermilk (he lived in Ireland for a while as a youngster), but has yet to produce a recipe to prove it.

  10. I made the same recipe with the same result — delicious, but only eleven as opposed to the promised twelve. . .

  11. An easier and still very tasty biscuit recipe:

    2 Cups self-rising flour

    1.5 Cups heavy whipping cream

    1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

    Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, stir to form dough. Turn out on a floured surface, knead a bit. Roll out to desired thickness, cut into biscuit shape (about 2″ in diamater). Bake for 10 minutes at 500 degrees F.

    They’re wonderful and take no more instruction than you’ve just been given. :o)

  12. I can not even believe how delicious these biscuits were. THANK YOU!!! Nobody needs to buy biscuits ever again! One question though; Is there a way to prepare them in advance and hold to be baked later??

  13. I have tried many different biscuit recipes in the last 2-years, but never achieved the made from scratch taste I was looking for until now.

    These were so easy to make and the taste was AWESOME!

  14. I’m a southerner – your biscuits look wonderful and I am going to try them. When I want biscuits, I buy a bag of Mary B’s biscuits – in the freezer case – far better than anything I’ve made in all my years of baking! Pillsbury also has some but I don’t think they are as good.

  15. My biscuit recipe is similar, but I use frozen butter and grate it into the dry ingredients before adding the buttermilk. Really flaky! If I’m lazy, I put the frozen butter in the food processor with the dry ingredients and pulse. Using the butter straight from the freezer seems to mean it melts slower and makes the biscuits even flakier.

  16. Those biscuits are all pixelated. Yup, totally photoshopped, I would know, I’ve seen a few photoshooped biscuits in my day.

  17. Due to dietary restrictions I can’t eat the biscuits, but I sympathize with you for taking the bar – I’m in law school myself. And distractions are great. When I study my kitchen is clean and I always end up with tons of baked goods lying around…

  18. Just passing on a tip re: buttermilk. You can get buttermilk powder. It will keep for about a year in the fridge. I got tired of running around for buttermilk I only ever used for biscuits, and Jenn from Frugal Upstate made that recommendation. I’ve tried it, and it works like a charm.

  19. Just passing on a tip re: buttermilk. You can get buttermilk powder. It will keep for about a year in the fridge. I got tired of running around for buttermilk I only ever used for biscuits, and Jenn from Frugal Upstate made that recommendation. I’ve tried it, and it works like a charm.

  20. I’ve been following your blog for a month or two, but this was the first recipe I’ve tried, and it was amazing! The biscuits were crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. Thanks!

  21. Showed picture of biscuits to my husband, he’ ready to have the NOW.
    thank you — can’t wait to give them a try.

  22. Hi,
    how will be the result if i use bread flour instead of all purpose flour? pls rpl soon.

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