Nano’s buttermilk biscuits

What a sublime treat – warm biscuits slathered with butter and homemade blackberry jam. Both of my grandmothers made biscuits almost every morning. Happily, I was astute enough to ask Nano how to make them. Of course she didn’t measure anything and was quite perplexed when I asked her to write down the recipe for me. But she did and I’ve treasured it ever since.

The great thing about this biscuit recipe is that it is useful for all number of dishes. You can drop bits of the dough into boiling stock for dumplings. You can add two tablespoons of sugar to make light fluffy shortbread to go with sugared fruit and whipped cream.

And my favorite, when I’m in the mood for something a little more fancy (or company’s coming) is to convert them into scones. Scones are simply biscuits with other things thrown into the mix.

The basic biscuit

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ t. baking soda
  • 6 T. butter
  • 1 c. buttermilk

Blend dry the dry ingredients. Cut in butter with two forks or a pastry cutter until it resembles a coarse meal. Add buttermilk and mix lightly, just enough to incorporate the ingredients. Be sure not to overmix. Pat into a loose ball, turn onto a floured board and roll out to about ½” thick. Cut with a biscuit cutter and place on an ungreased cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Brush the tops with milk for browning. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes.

Riffs on the biscuit

Blueberry peach scones


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 6 T. butter
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk + more for brushing
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. chopped fruit: peaches and blueberries, strawberries, apples (add ½ t. cinnamon), cranberries (dried or fresh), rhubarb (add a bit more sugar), chopped nuts

In a small bowl, whisk the milk and egg. Mix the dry ingredients and cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together with a fork.

Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead a couple times just until remaining flour becomes incorporated into dough.

Gently pat dough into a 1 inch thick round. Cut dough evenly into 12 different wedges or squares.

Transfer to prepared baking sheets. Brush with buttermilk. Bake until golden brown, 18-23 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Vanilla Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk any kind
While scones are cooling, add glaze ingredients to a small bowl and mix well until ingredients are incorporated. Drizzle over scones and serve.

Cheese scones

Follow the recipe above, replacing the sugar with ½ t. Ground pepper. Instead of fruit, mix in 1 c. shredded cheese of choice.

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