The Basic Biscuit

The basic Biscuit liturgy of life
Nothing fancy but these biscuits have pulled together many a meal for me. Thought I’d share.

Meals during the weekends are always a scramble for me. I’ve gotten better at planning meals during the week (mainly because I’m on a budget and if I don’t plan we end up eating pickles and cranberry sauce for dinner by Friday night) but I tend to forget about weekends.

Sometimes we are out of town, other times we are out with friends. So when it turns out that we are home and Saturday morning roles around and I often realize there is neither bread, milk nor eggs in the house. This realization is followed by a brief moment of dread (now sure I could always send my husband out for breakfast tacos (again!)), but right now we are reading Edith Schaeffer’s The Hidden Art of Homemaking in our reading group.  The whole emphasis of her book  is on being creative, coming up with tiny ways in your everyday life to make something, and to meet your own needs or your family’s needs at the same time.

So I thought I’d share a quick recipe that has come in handy in just the situation mentioned above.

This recipe is straight out of How to Cook Everything.  If you want to learn to cook and just want one cookbook this is the one to go for. Bittman has a recipe for almost everything.  He teaches you how to cook from scratch, not too fancy but just one step above the most most basic. I’ve learned a lot from it including this basic biscuit recipe.

So these are technically buttermilk biscuits. I sometimes do have buttermilk but more often I substitute yogurt and sometimes sour cream here. Since yogurt keeps pretty well in the fridge I almost always have some around to use for cooking, mixing into sauces or for baking.

This whole process takes between 20-30 minutes. So in the time it would take to get dressed and out to the gas station for breakfast tacos you could be enjoying your own homemade biscuits while still in your bathrobe (and have some left overs to dress up dinner).


2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for sprinkling on the counters etc.)

1 scant teaspoon of salt

3 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

5 tablespoons of cold butter (I use unsalted because I think they come out too salty otherwise, if you only have salted butter just cut back the salt by 1/8 of a teaspoon)

7/8 cup of plain yogurt or buttermilk (let’s be real here, I always just use 1 cup. And since the yogurt is thicker  you need a little bit more than if you use buttermilk.)


1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2.  Mix dry ingredients.

3.  Cut  cold butter with a knife and drop it into the dry ingredients. Then pinch the butter and rub it between your fingers and mix it into the flour until all the big pieces are mixed in. (I love getting my hands messy when I cook, if you don’t you can do this all in a food processor).

4.  Add yogurt to dry ingredients, stir until all the flour is incorporated and it has formed a ball. I sometimes need to mix the last bit with my hands which is very sticky.

5.  Dump the sticky dough ball out onto a floured surface and sprinkle it with a small amount of flour, shape it into a ball and then start to kneed it 10 times, sprinkling with flour as needed to keep it from sticking.

If you’ve never kneaded it may sound intimidating. It’s really no big deal it is just flattening the dough and then folding it and then flattening it again. Keep enough flour on your hands to keep it from sticking too much, but don’t use more flour than you need either. Flatten the dough to about  1-2 inches thick then fold it in half and in half again and then flatten it again, add small amounts of flour as needed. You will notice the dough ball feels more elastic and firm after kneading.

6.  Flatten the dough with your hands or use a rolling pin to roll it to about 3/4 inch thick. Take a glass (or biscuit cutter if you have one, I don’t) and dip it in flour and cut out your biscuits like you would using a cookie cutter. Re-dip in flour each time to keep it from sticking.

7.  Place cut out rounds on an ungreased cookie sheet. ( I almost always use parchment to cover mine but you don’t have to, it just makes clean up easier, though not really if you are me who wipes off and re-uses your parchment paper, I have a whole drawer of sued ziplock bags, saran wrap and parchment paper, it drives my husband nuts but it saves me a few cents every month).

8.  Bake for 7-9 minutes, longer for bigger biscuits, shorter for smaller ones. You will see them rise and brown on the top.

9.  Remove and serve hot (though they are a perfectly  reasonable alternative to toast for the next day or two, just store in an air tight container on the counter.

These are great alone with butter and jelly (I’ll post some jelly recipes soon) of course with bacon and eggs, or to use with ham or left over meats to make little brunch sandwiches. I’ve also made random chopped meats or meats in gravy and served them over these when I’m in a pinch to come up with something at dinner time.

A quick tip on freezing. If you go to the trouble of making a double batch you can bake one batch until they rise but aren’t brown, remove a few minutes before they are done. Let them cool and store them in an airtight container and freeze. Then you can take out a few and heat them in the oven for the extra five minutes or until done. Which will make it even easier on you the next time you wake up to the realization that there is no food in the house.


  • paula Reply

    I love that cook book, I think you bought it for me. The tortilla recipe is easy too and they taste great.

    • egjarrett Reply

      Hey I think I did give it to you. And I agree I can’t remember which one is which but this book has either flour or corn tortillas and I use his recipe for the other that I just found on the internet. I’m actually making them tonight. Ellen gave me my copy when I got married. I was just looking through it again to get ideas for when we had company over and I saw so many things I wanted to try.

  • Shannon Reply

    Holy moly I made these this morning and they’re amazing. My family gobbled them up. My mom and grandma use Crisco in their biscuits, and that’s never much appealed to me but I never found a favorite recipe of my own. When I was trying to limit animal products a few years ago I had a vegan recipe that was decent but not good enough to become a family staple. THESE are perfect! If I sound freakishly overexcited, it’s because I am.

    • egjarrett Reply

      Awesome. I’m glad they were a hit. I really try to only post recipes that are tried and true and have worked well for us. And I understand the excitement, I use these a lot to spruce up a meal.

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