Biscuits make a lovely side dish for dinner. Sometimes, however, the mess and effort involved seems a bit much. Over the years, I’ve developed a streamlined biscuit that reduces the time and mess.
Quick buttermilk substitute
Buttermilk makes the best biscuit, but I pretty much never have real buttermilk on hand. Instead of buying separate buttermilk, adding a splash of lemon juice or vinegar to the milk and letting it sit for 3-5 minutes yields a perfectly acceptable substitute. Personally, I prefer the fresh tang of lemon juice.
Cut the butter before adding it
Cold butter is best, but can be difficult to cut into the dough. I put the cube on a cutting board, slice it down the center, flip it, slice it down the center again, and then cut cubes down the length. Plop it in the bowl of dry ingredients, then take a pastry blender with blades and chop it further with a few swift motions.
Never let the dough touch the counter
The real mess and hassle of biscuits is the aftermath: a sticky, flour-crusted counter. Avoid that altogether. Do the final couple kneads with your hands, keeping the dough in the bowl. Then, pull out a Silpat, pastry mat, or flexible cutting board and sprinkle flour over that. Plop the dough onto the board and lightly pat into a rectangle.
Square, not round, biscuits
Take a pastry scraper instead and cut your rectangle into serving-sized squares. Then use that same tool to gently lift each biscuit onto your greased or parchmented or Silpated baking sheet.
That scraper also makes quick work of any remaining dough crud. Scrape your flexible cutting board off, scrape stray flour on the counter straight off the counter into a waiting garbage can, and scrape off the baking sheet after the biscuits are off cooling.
Biscuits are an ultimate comfort food. Don’t be intimidated. They don’t have to be perfect to express love and comfort to your family or guests.