black pepper buttermilk biscuits.

Someone (and I won’t say who) has, for as long as I can remember, doubted my ability to make biscuits. Well, not so much my ability to make them as much as to make them in any sort of edible format. Mind you, they have nothing to base this on, except possibly my inability to make certain things that seem easy but are, in fact, not. Biscuit-making takes patience, some knowledge about what you’re trying to accomplish, and the will to resist any and all shortcuts you think you can take. Honestly; if it were really that easy to make an above-average, flaky biscuit, would they have 837 kinds of tube-encased ones to choose from at the store? No. 

So, up to the challenge of trying my first homemade biscuit, I set out to find a recipe I found appealing. I’m not ripping biscuits here; I’m just not what you’d call a biscuit person. We didn’t really eat biscuits growing up, so it doesn’t fall into the “comfort food” category like it does for many people. Indulgent breakfast for us was big fluffy homemade waffles, or something more along those lines. I’m not a huge fan of the whole biscuits/sausage/sausage cream gravy thing. We also were not a family who required a bread-like item at dinners, so biscuits didn’t make an appearance there, either.

I finally found the biscuit I would attempt in the Bar Americain Cookbook, Bobby Flay’s newest. My favorite sections of this particular book are the “Brunch” and the “Breads and Desserts” sections, and this one falls in the latter category, although there’s an argument to be made for it in the Brunch section as well.

I have heard that Mr. Flay makes an excellent biscuit, so I knew if these turned out like tiny round bricks, it would be 100% my doing. The recipe didn’t seem altogether complicated either. What mostly did it for me was the addition of black pepper on these things. I find biscuits a smidge on the bland side, and the pepper seemed like it would take care of that being an issue.

So I sifted ingredients. I gently mixed. I cut in the butter with my patient, patient fingers. I watched the oven like an utterly crazy person hawk for the last 5 minutes of baking time.

Aaaaand…success! Flaky, flavorful biscuits that you absoultely could not build houses with. They were wonderful, and light, and buttery, and everything you’d want in a biscuit. And the pepper? genius. Not my genius, sadly, but genius nonetheless. I tried them with both a honey/butter combination and a strawberry preserves/butter combination, and both were excellent. The strawberry made the cover photo but only due to color, not superiority. These were also very nice  to make a little egg and cheese breakfast sandwich with the next day, although I would highly recommend trying to eat them all the same day they are made.

Best of all: they were not at all difficult. Yes, you do need to take your time, follow the directions, and not try to cheat the system with cutting in the butter or patting them out pre-cutter, etc. But try these; if you think you can’t make biscuits, I bet this recipe will prove you wrong.

Oh: and the person who claimed there was no way on earth I could make a decent biscuit? They loved them more than I did.

Taken from Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook.

Sunday Black Pepper Biscuits

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, chilled, plus 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) melted
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, chilled
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (I like it on the coarse side)

Preheat the oven to 450˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the cold butter cubes using your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and mix gently until the mixture just begins to come together.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough into a 10 x 12 inch rectangle about 3/4 inch thick. use a 2 inch round cutter to cut out biscuits. Or, like me, use the “O” shape from your set of alphabet cutters, providing it does not have the inside “O” part attached. Press together the scraps of dough and repeat to cut 10-12 biscuits.

Place the biscuits 2 inches apart on the baking sheet, brush the tops with the cream, and sprinkle with the black pepper. bake the biscuits until light (light!) golden brown, 12-15 minutes. I suggest watching them no later than the 10-minute mark. Brush the biscuits with the melted butter and transfer them to a wire rack to let cool ever so slightly, because you really should eat them on the warmishly-hot side. Slather with whatever you choose. Happy morning to you.

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