"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Buttermilk Biscuits, Two Kinds

by Julie on August 4, 2011

in Good Ideas Gone Bad, Sugar and Spite, Dinner, Sweet!

white soda bread dough gone terribly, terribly wrong

Hell's Kitchen


It’s not like I had any real attachment to my Irish heritage. Apart from having the gift of gab and a penchant for drinking and a wee little bit of a temper, I’ve never claimed much celtic pride myself.

But it may well explain my inability to cook. Since when did Irish women ever cook well? (besides my cousin, I hasten to add) It’s not like anyone would dare say so to their faces….

I mean, check out that white bread scone recipe I gave you the other day. As my sainted grandmother would say, “JAAYY-Zuz Mary and Joseph…”

I actually gave this the benefit of the doubt and tried it not once, but twice…thinking that the first time I messed up something by trying to halve it. But no. The second time that same night I tried the recipe word for word and still it turned out too sticky to work with. In other words, a bloody mess.

Is it me? Or is it me trying to do an Irish recipe? That’s like culinary double indemnity, isn’t it? I just wanted to release the faeries and feel like I was doing something, you know, ethnic.


Now Mark Bittman’s buttermilk biscuits, on the other hand, ROCKED my household.

2 cups flour

1 scant teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda,

3 teaspoons baking powder

5 tablespoons cold butter

7/8 cup buttermilk (or yogurt)

Preheat the oven to 450.

For the three of you out there who DO NOT own a food processor: Mix the dry ingredients together (I sifted them. I have one of those). Cut the butter into little pieces work it into the flour like you would for pastry. When the butter is all blended, make a little well and pour the buttermilk in there. Use a spoon to mix it all until it’s just a ball. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed 10 times. No more, no less.

Using your hands, press this into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle and cut your biscuits with the lip of a glass. Place the rounds on an ungreased cookie sheet. Gently gather up the remaining dough and cut more.

transport the biscuits to the cookie sheet for baking any way you can...

This recipe made 15 biscuits.

Bake 7 to 9 minutes until golden brown. Eat these within 15 minutes for best result.

No worries there. The kids and their friends fell on them. There wasn’t a single one left 20 minutes later. No joke. I only got to eat two because I snapped them out from underneath the clamoring 11-year olds. I’m lucky my digits are all intact.

This means that the kids were either starving when I served them, or the warm, fresh, buttermilk biscuits were really, really yumm. I’m gonna go with the latter, thanks. And you should have seen them once one of them thought to drip honey into the warm insides of these biscuits.

I mean, when do 11-year-olds actually thank you repeatedly for anything?

buttermilk buscuit with honey

Everything's better with honey...

Is there a lesson to be learned here?

Aye and you tell me, then.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura Zinn Fromm August 5, 2011 at 4:35 am

Maybe lesson is you need a Jew to help make Irish food? As the product of a Jewish mother and an Irish stepfather, I can tell you that the two religions do merge quite nicely in the kitchen.

Nice post, Julie!


Pam July 12, 2015 at 7:37 am

I came upon this post yesterday. As a person always on the quest for the perfect, executable biscuit recipe, this one actually delivers! Bravo! And, it uses ingredients I usually have on hand anyway, Biscuit + butter + honey = nirvana


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