Biscuit Bash

By Brenda Shafer
Photography by Terry Henson

Let’s be honest – biscuits are nearly synonymous with the South. Some prefer theirs with a classic sausage gravy, others a tasty jam, and others still, a more divisive topping like chocolate or jalapeños. But honest-to-goodness biscuit baking is a culinary craft not meant for the faint of heart. Recipes can take years to perfect, and at least one inedible batch is inevitable. Luckily for you though, we’ve eliminated the trial-and-error by rounding up five of the best tried-and-true biscuit recipes this side of the Mason-Dixon line. Try them all and pick your favorite!

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Jenni Veal, Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association & her daughter Lucy

Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy

1 tbsp. yeast
5 tbsp. lukewarm water
2 cups buttermilk, warmed
5 cups all-purpose flour
5 tsp. baking powder
1 & 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 tbsp. sugar
3/4 cup butter

Dissolve yeast in water, then combine with buttermilk in a bowl. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and sugar in a large bowl. Cut in butter; add yeast mixture. Knead slightly; roll out on floured surface to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with biscuit cutter. Place on greased baking sheet. Bake at 450˚ for 10 minutes. Makes 30 servings.

For the Chocolate Gravy

2 tbsp. butter or margarine
2 tbsp. cocoa
2 tbsp. flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups milk

Melt butter in skillet. In a bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add vanilla and milk to dry ingredients. Pour into skillet with melted butter and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick. Serve with hot biscuits. Makes 2 cups.

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Mary Haymaker, Teacher & Local Food Blogger Photo by Kim Box

White Lily Biscuits with Sausage Gravy

2 cups all-purpose flour (a soft wheat brand like White Lily will turn out the best biscuits)
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
6 tbsp. unsalted butter (cold, cut into chunks)
1 cup buttermilk (can also use milk, cream, or half-and-half, or splash a little vinegar into the bottom of a measuring cup and fill the rest of the way with milk to approximate buttermilk)

Preheat the oven to 450˚. Put a baking stone or baking sheet in the oven to preheat. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Use a pastry blender or your fingertips to work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk a little at a time, stirring after each addition, until the mixture comes together into a sticky dough. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and lightly coat the outside with flour. Flatten and fold into thirds. Repeat the flattening and folding twice, adding flour as needed but being careful not to add too much flour, which will toughen your biscuits. Lightly press the dough into a rectangle about an inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter or knife to cut into the desired number of biscuits. (I use a knife and don’t worry about the shape of my biscuits. Not using a biscuit cutter prevents me from having to re-roll the scraps, which will also toughen it.) Place the biscuits on the preheated pan barely touching one another. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 12 minutes.

Note: If you want to use self-rising flour, omit the salt, baking soda, and half of the baking powder.

For the Gravy

4 tbsp. bacon or sausage drippings
4 tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste

While the biscuits are baking, preheat a 10-inch skillet (cast iron works great) over medium heat. Add the drippings and heat until the fat starts to shimmer. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, until it just begins to brown. Add the milk a little at a time, whisking and allowing to thicken after each addition. Continue adding until the gravy reaches the consistency that you like (you may need a little more or a little less than the recipe calls for). Salt and pepper the gravy to taste and serve with biscuits.

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Heather Pennypacker, Chef at The Sweet & Savory Classroom, Photo by Camilla Calnan Photography

Buttermilk Biscuits with Blueberry Jam

20 oz. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 oz. kosher salt
1 & 1/4 oz. sugar
3 & 3/4 oz. unsalted butter
26 oz. (approx.) whole fat buttermilk

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Slowly add the buttermilk until all is combined. (Tip: hold back on some of the liquid until all is combined. If more liquid is needed, add more.) Dough should be sticky and glossy looking. Take out of bowl and fold 6-8 times on a heavily floured surface. Pat out to 1 & 1/2-inch thickness, cut with a round biscuit cutter and place onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Bake at 375˚ for 25-30 minutes. This recipe makes 16 two-inch biscuits or 10 three-inch biscuits. Serve with your favorite jam.

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Ocia Hartley Owner of Syrup and Eggs

Buttermilk Biscuits with Black Pepper & Coffee Whipped Butter

 4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. sea salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 & 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 tbsp. cane sugar
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
12 oz. unsalted butter (cold)
1 & 1/2 (scant) cups Cruz Farm Dairy buttermilk or low-fat
1 egg
1 tbsp. water

Preheat Oven to 425˚. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Cube up all of the butter into 1/2-inch cubes, but make sure it stays cold. Add the butter cubes to the dry ingredients and quickly start to crush the butter between your fingers. Break the butter into tiny pea-sized pieces. Pour the buttermilk into the dry ingredient bowl and fold the dough together quickly with your hands until it has all clumped up. Do not stir. Place the dough in plastic wrap and form a tight disk. Refrigerate for one hour or overnight. Place dough on a floured surface and roll until 1-inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter for circles or knife for squares, punch out the biscuits. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place biscuits 1/2 inch apart. Beat egg with water.Brush the tops with the beaten egg and water mixture. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 17 to 22 minutes, until the tops brown (depends on the size of your biscuits). Makes 12 to 14 biscuits.

For Coffee Whipped Butter

4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tbsp. instant espresso powder
Pinch of salt
Sprinkle of honey

Place butter in a KitchenAid bowl with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 4 minutes. It will be light and fluffy. Add instant espresso powder, pinch of salt, and sprinkle of honey; whip for 30 seconds, until mixed.


Good biscuits take a little bit of time to master, but like anything good, they are well worth it!”

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Shawanda Mason Local Food & Lifestyle Blogger

Cheddar + Jalapeño Biscuits 

1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes (keep butter in fridge until you are ready for it)
3 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading)
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 jalapeño, seeded & chopped
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 & 1/2 cups buttermilk, shaken

Heat oven to 425˚. Put butter in a small bowl and toss it with 2 tbsp. of flour then put it in the freezer for 5 minutes. In a food processor, combine 3 cups of flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda, then pulse in the cold butter and flour (about 20 pulses). Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add in the jalapeño, cheese, and buttermilk. Stir until moistened – do not overmix. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, flour your hands, and carefully knead the dough. Pat the dough into an 8-inch square and cut into squares or rounds – whatever you prefer. Arrange biscuits on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Makes 8 biscuits. Add whatever fillings or toppings you desire. Eggs, bacon, and jalapeños are great fillers!

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