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Classic Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

Classic Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits | UrbanBakes.comRemember my last post when I said I eat granola cereal every morning?  Well, sometimes just sometimes, I like to break free of that routine and eat something different.  And boyy, what better way to do it than these fluffy flaky buttermilk biscuits?  Wow!

My grandmother would be full on impressed.

Classic Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits |

I mention my grandmother because she eats bread on a daily basis as her breakfast meal.  Mostly bagels with a coffee.  Ya!  She’s a typical New Yorker on-the-go during the morning rush hour and yet completely opposite from myself.  I always get on her case about it too.  Always telling her to, “Slow down and eat a yogurt or something instead.”

She laughs so I throw my hands up.  I tried.  Classic Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits |

It’s too bad I made these right before my trip to Colorado last week.  I could have given her some.

When I returned, the biscuits weren’t the same.  Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the few I had while it was still fresh.  I’ll most likely make more for her and my grandfather (who’s also a bread fanatic) while saving myself a few for breakfast sandwiches.

Actually that sounds really good right about now.  Can you imagine, eating this buttery biscuit with a turkey sausage patty and scrambled egg whites as a sandwich?  Or if you really want to go full fat, you can have the real deal with beef sausage, whole eggs and crispy bacon!  Yea!  That sounds good too!

Classic Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits |

Either way you have it, as a sandwich or with jam (as shown above), it wouldn’t matter.  The biscuit alone still remains to be the highlight.

It’s tender.  It’s buttery.  And it’s flaky.

It makes me reminisce of string cheese.  You know the kind when you were a kid and you just kept peeling away at all the layers until there was nothing left?  Well, like the kid that I am, this is exactly what I did.  Then, I stopped for my second biscuit to throw on some jam and it was delicious!

How to get Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits |


Don’t be fooled by the number of steps in this recipe.  I broke it down to smaller steps (my own preference) because I feel it’s easier to follow.  The most time consuming part is Step 3: breaking the butter into small disk like pieces because damn, that’s a lot of butter to work through between your fingers.  But trust me, it’s so worth it in the end.

The above photo shows my second batch.  Not as high as my first but you can still see the layers within the dough and that’s what you’re looking for.  You must see layers prior to baking.  If not, there’s a possibility your error(s) may be a result from A.) using warm (room temp) shortening/butter or B.) insufficient re-folding of dough.

Another thing to note: recipe strictly calls for chilled ingredients.  It’s very important to follow through.  Do not assume softened shortening and/or butter will give you the same results.  The dough will become flat and too slick to hold its shape.  Hence the importance of Step 4.

Photo below shows final step before baking by brushing on melted butter which helps give the crust a golden brown color.

How to make Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits |

So why buttermilk?  Can it be substituted for water or something else instead?

Buttermilk’s name is one of the most misleading words causing one to think it is high in fat.  In reality, it is the liquid end-product of butter-making.  Essentially, the liquid “milk” is left behind when cream is churned into butter.

Buttermilk can be dried and used as a baking ingredient or remain as a fluid known as “cultured milk” which can be used for baking, cooking and dressings.  It’s known as cultured milk because a culture of Streptococcus lactis (bacteria) is added to produce lactic acid which is essential to reduce disagreeable flavors and yellowish hue to light colored baked goods when baking soda is called for in a recipe.  S. lactis is also important in flavor to produce diacetyl which gives its characteristic buttery aroma and taste.  Water or milk alone would not suffice to give biscuits the quality buttery characteristics that buttermilk can achieve.

Classic Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 14 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 12-16 biscuits


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/8 slices
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk, chilled
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, for dusting


  1. In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry cutter or long tined fork, break up chunks of shortening into the flour mixture to form small pea-sized pieces. Work in 8 tablespoons of sliced butter by pressing into flour creating small disks about the size of a small coin. Gently whisk a few strokes to mix. Freeze mixture in bowl until chilled, about 15 minutes in freezer or 30 minutes in refrigerator.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oven to 450°F. Spray 24-square-inch area of countertop with vegetable oil spray. Using a paper towel spread oil evenly across the surface. Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour across the sprayed area and pat down gently to form a thin even coat.
  3. Add buttermilk to flour mixture and stir using a fork until all of the flour from the sides of the bowl creates a ball. Note: dough will be sticky. Using a rubber spatula remove dough from bowl, place in center of prepared counter top. Sprinkle additional flour on top of dough ball. Pat down roughly into a 10-inch square.
  4. Use a rolling pin to roll dough into an 18 x 14-inch rectangle (1/4-inch thick). Dust dough and rolling pin as needed with flour.
  5. Using a bench scrapper, fold dough into thirds (like a business letter) brushing off any excess flour from surface of dough. Lift short end of dough and fold into thirds again to form a 6 x 4-inch rectangle.
  6. Rotate 90°, re-dust countertop, reroll, and fold dough again. Return to its original size of a 10-inch square (1/2-inch thick). Flip dough over.
  7. Using a 2 1/2-inch floured biscuit or cookie cutter, cut 12 to 16 rounds. Invert rounds and place onto a ungreased baking sheet evenly spaced 1-inch apart. Gather excess dough, reroll and cut additional pieces as needed. Brush biscuit with melted butter.
  8. Bake 12 to 16 minutes. Remove from baking sheet, cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. ENJOY!


Making this recipe? I’d love to see. Snap a pic and use #urbanbakes on your public Instagram and Twitter.

Classic Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits recipe adapted from (p. 55-56) of Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book.

Recipe source:

Making this recipe?  I’d love to see.  Snap a pic and use #urbanbakes on your public Instagram and Twitter.

18 Responses to Classic Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

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  1. Damn, Connie! These are PERFECT biscuits! As much as I adore biscuits, I’ve only made them a couple of times and each time, they were mediocre at past. I’ve never gotten the incredible height that you have here or the amazing flaky layers. I’m drooling right now thinking about making a full fat breakfast sammich with these…yum…

  2. I’ve just made a fig and chilli jam that sounds like it wants to go on something like this. We don’t really do ‘biscuits’ here (we call cookies biscuits), we do scones. But I’d love to try these!

    • I wonder if your scones are the same as our scones. Hmm? I’ve heard that it’s quite common to order “cookies with gravy” in Australia. If you were to order that here in the states, people might give a weird look LOL. But that fig and chili sounds very interesting. Will you be posting it on your blog?

      • I’m not sure if our scones are the same. I’ve always assumed they are! I’ll have to look up a few recipes. I must admit though, I’ve never heard of cookies with gravy. Your biscuits aren’t really something we eat in a savoury sense. Yes, I will post the fig and chili jam in the coming weeks.

  3. These biscuits are seriously gorgeous…too beautiful to eat! Love how buttery and flaky they look!

    blahnikbaker says: January 17, 2014 at 9:06 PM
    • Thank you! I was actually surprised it came out looking this nice. I usually have a hard time making breads look appetizing. The color came out perfect!

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