It just so happens that today, January 11, is National Milk Day in the US. It’s also National Hot Toddy day, but unfortunately I don’t have an entry on that. Did you know that every day of the year is designated as at least one food holiday? Coincidentally in honor of National Milk Day, I bring to you buttermilk biscuits. Ok, so National Buttermilk Biscuit Day isn’t until May 14, but I just couldn’t wait until then to share this recipe.
These aren’t just any buttermilk biscuits – these are the ones from the Clinton Street Baking Company cookbook, a recent and exciting acquisition of mine. If you haven’t been to Clinton Street in New York, run don’t walk. I recommend, if I may, beating the weekend brunch lines by playing hookie from work and going mid-week. It’s worth it.
The buttermilk biscuits are a staple of Clinton Street Baking Co., accompanying most dishes and acting as a base for their phenomenal egg sandwiches. It turns out that chef/owner Neil Kleinberg developed them for classic Brooklyn restaurant Lundy’s before bringing them to his own Manhattan bakery-cum-restaurant. And despite the fact that they’re made north of the Mason Dixon line, they taste like they belong down South.
They’re gloriously easy to make, and one of the few recipes I’ve made here in Israel that tastes totally authentic. For you Sabras, buttermilk can be found in the milk aisle, sitting right amongst the 1% and 3% cartons of milk, in a container labeled 1.5%. Tricky, I know (Evan bought it once by mistake and discovered it wasn’t such a good match for coffee).
One of the best tips they give is not to twist the biscuit cutter when cutting the biscuits (something I would totally do). Just press down hard and remove, otherwise they won’t rise properly. The yield will depend on the size of the biscuits you make. Also, the dough can be prepared in the evening and then rested, covered in the refrigerator, overnight to be baked in the morning. These are best fresh out of the oven, but toasted they’re beautiful the next day with some butter, jam, or cheese.
Clinton Street’s Buttermilk Biscuits
Adapted from the Clinton Street Baking Company Cookbook (Little Brown and Company, 2010)
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, chilled and cubed (or 3 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening)
¾ cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and mix with your fingertips to achieve a crumbly texture, until the butter is the size of peas. Add the buttermilk and, using your hands, mix just until the dough comes together.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and form it into a ball. Lightly knead the dough two or three times until combined. If baking the biscuits the next day, dust a sheet pan and the top of the dough with flour, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Bring the dough back to room temperature before baking.
Pat the dough out to a ¾- to 1-inch thickness. Shape the dough into a rectangle, making the sides high. Using a 1- to 2-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits, being careful not to twist the cutter. Place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and dust with a sprinkling of flour. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown and cooked through. Rotate the pan halfway through for even browning.