Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Best Holiday Biscuits Made Easy, From the Almost Bride of Poppin' Fresh

   I had my first real meal in nearly a month last Saturday night when I baked an Indian-style pumpkin. It was a great first dish back because it was soft enough for my newly healed mouth. And because of the wonderful spice combo in the kheema (ground meat) it was a real change from cottage cheese, yogurt and oatmeal. In putting the dish together, I was really torn between fixing chapattis or going the old fashioned harvest-home route and doing buttermilk biscuits.
   I thought that since the meal involved Indian spices I wouldn't be able to go all "Pilgrim-y" on my guests, but then I thought... "Wait a minute, I'm the boss of me. I'll bake what I want!" So I did.
  As it turned out the combo of Indian flavors in the pumpkin and the tang of buttermilk biscuits worked out just fine. So it turned out to be sort of a Pilgrim and Indian fusion dinner. The Indians being East Indian spices.
  Growing up, my only contact with biscuits was my mom making biscuits in a tube. Usually the sound of a cardboard tube smacking down on the corner of the kitchen counter meant it was Holiday time, or company was coming. This was then accompanied by the discovery of "real" butter in the fridge. Now just to be fair, I have to disclose here that I absolutely loved biscuits in a tube. Also sweet rolls in a tube, cinnamon rolls in a tube and I always wanted to be the one in the family who did the whacking. Also way back when, I was almost the voice of Poppin' Fresh's girlfriend/ wife/SO/  Poppie Fresh. Remember her?
   I did tons of television and radio commercials and cartoon voices when I was right out of my teens and in my 20's. And when they decided it was time for Poppin' Fresh the Pillbury Doughboy to settle down, I got a call. It was an arduous  audition process that finally narrowed down to two people, myself and  Sue Blu. After an extensive giggle-off, Sue was chosen.  It didn't stop me from loving biscuits though.
   I loved them so much I decided I'd learn how to bake them myself. No tubes involved. After extensive research I discovered the perfect never fail buttermilk biscuit recipe courtesy of cooking legend James Beard. It's fast, simple and foolproof.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Here's what to do.

  In a large mixing bowl combine and sift together :
2 cups of flour
2 and 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  Mix it all up well and cut in 1/3 cup of butter with a pastry blender or 2 forks. Or hell, just use your hands. Whatever works. Just as long as the end result resembles a fine meal.
 Pour in 3/4 cup of butter milk and mix it all up well.
You want a nice soft dough,
 Take the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 3 minutes or so then pat it into a circle shape gently.
You can use a rolling pin to roll it from there, but do it gently. The dough should be about 1/2 inch thick.
  Take a biscuit cutter. My Grandma used to use a floured glass and cut the biscuits to the size you want. I made big ones and got about 8 of them since I used the largest size cutter I had.
 Dip the top of the biscuits in a bit of melted butter and pop them onto a greased/buttered cookie sheet.
 Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes or so until they're nicely browned. Bring them to the table and then stand back. These go fast.
     I've tried a lot of buttermilk biscuit recipes over the years but I have to say that these seem to be the "Holy Grail" of never fail biscuits. Can you mess them up? Of course. You can mess anything up, and I did too when I was learning. But a little practice makes perfect, and we've got a good three weeks till Thanksgiving.


  1. Poppin' fresh!!! I could stuff a few right now!

  2. Oh my god! You almost were the dough boy? Now THAT impresses me. Your biscuits do too because we all know how crappy *I* am at baking and these look beautiful.

  3. These look great. You have given me hope that I can make good biscuits! The melted butter topping is a great idea. I cannot wait to try this out!

  4. It must have been so fun to be all those different characters...
    The biscuits look perfect, bet they are great with melted butter and a cup of soup :)

  5. I'm glad you were bigger than the DoughBoy and didn't hold a grudge. I hate to say it but I LUV home made biscuits. I'm always too busy to make from scratch, but these look perfect and quite easy. I'll have to give them a try.

    Thanks for sharing,

  6. @Janis,
    not the doughboy..almost his girlfriend..god does that sound sad!!
    I have made plenty of terrible biscuits in my life..these however almost always work.

  7. @bromography,
    this is a great recipe and considering other ones is fairly light on the butter..basically 4 Tbs

  8. @Winelady Cooks,
    yes, he didn't choose me and I know he's always regretted it. I was happier with Hong Kong Phooey

  9. @Belinda@zomppa,
    I have all I can do to resist making these tonight as I've made a big pot of non-cream of broccoli soup.

  10. These look fantastic! Biscuits are so versatile...they go with every meal it seems like...and disappear quick in my house!

  11. Wow! These biscuits look amazing! I love how tall and flaky they look...I've got to try them! YUM!

  12. @jane deere,
    the secret is not to knead too much, just enough. The dough does best when it's minimally handled, and when cutting lift the cutter straight up. Twisting it after cutting can cause them not to rise as much.

  13. @baking.serendipity,
    at our house too!

  14. beautiful biscuits Kathy. i almost tried a batch tonight... ran out of time!

  15. Oh YUM! That looks like great biscuits...

  16. oh goodie! i love biscuits and these looks so freshly baked i can eat em all!

  17. These are perfect. They look amazing and there is no way I am not trying this recipe. Saved! Biscuits can be tricky. I'm always looking for a good recipe.

  18. congrats on healing and being able to enjoy a variety of dishes again! fabulous looking biscuits perfect for the holidays!

  19. Gotta have good bread for Thanksgiving. I leave if the bread sucks!

    I'll be making these for our Thanksgiving with friends. They are going to love me.




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