Failed kitchen experiments and culinary hacks.

Buttermilk Biscuits with Toasted Sesame Seed and Sage Gravy

12 Jan 2010


I had some initial trepidation about posting this, since it's so damn good. However, it seems sort of ridiculous not to shared my recipe for buttermilk biscuits. The key is the flour. If you're in the South, no problem making biscuits - it's in your blood, and your flour. Southern all-purpose flours are made up of winter wheat, which has a lower protein content, making it more conducive to yielding a nice, fluffy biscuit (among other quick breads). Up here in the North, making perfect biscuits (and cakes, yummm) is more difficult since Northern flours are made of summer wheat, which contains more protein, which is more suitable for yeast breads. To get to about the same protein content as Southern flours, I've taken to using a mix of cake flour, which is finer and contains less protein, and Northern all-purpose flour. Don't say I never gave you anything. Here's the love:

Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 1 1/4 c. cake flour
  • 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3/4 c. buttermilk

  1. Preheat oven 500 degrees. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Use a pastry cutter to work the butter into the flour mixture. The colder the butter is, the better the texture. Continue cutting the butter until it is evenly distributed and starting to clump with flour. Chunks of butter are perfectly alright, they will form pockets in the dough and contribute to the biscuit's flakiness.
  3. Pour the buttermilk into the bowl. Using a fork, toss around the sides of the bowl until a dough just barely begins to form. Turn out the dough onto a floured workspace. Knead the dough 3 or 4 times until it is about 1 1/2 inches thick. Don't overwork the dough. This is important, otherwise the dough will become too compacted and your biscuits will not have that perfect combination of flaky, fluffy and chewy.
  4. Using a biscuit cutter (also known as a cookie cutter), cut out as many biscuits as there ended up being dough for and place on a baking sheet. I usually get 6 out of this quantity of ingredients.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately with butter and honey or anything else. They'll be delicious no matter what you do to them.

ZOMG, vegetarian week is getting long. It's so hard to resist making sausage gravy, but I'll hold out until next weekend (maybe). Until then, here's a simple vegetarian gravy that is almost as good.

Vegetarian Toasted Sesame Seed and Sage Gravy

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 c. milk
  • 6-8 sage leaves, loosely chopped
  • 1/4c. toasted sesame seeds
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan. When melted, whisk in the flour, and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk.
  2. Continue whisking the gravy lightly for about 4-5 minutes, adding the sage after 2 minutes, until it begins to thicken. Toss in the toasted sesame seeds, season with salt and pepper and serve with buttermilk biscuits and topped with a fried egg.

Cutting in the butter

Butter, assimilated

The dough after adding buttermilk

Ready for the oven