Want to make perfect biscuits? Alabama's ‘Top Chef’ winner shares her recipe (2024)

This recipe and its introduction are pulled from “Southern Grit: 100+ Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Cook” by Kelsey Barnard Clark ($29.95 hardcover, Chronicle Books). She’s an Alabama native, the Season 16 winner of “Top Chef” and the chef/owner of KBC in Dothan.

By Kelsey Barnard Clark

If you needed to describe Southern cooking in two words, buttermilk and biscuits would suffice. Put ‘em together and you may as well just throw a hoedown. That said, when we had biscuits when I was growing up, they were out of a can. I didn’t realize just how hard they were to perfect until I decided to put a biscuit bar on the brunch menu at KBC to honor my husband’s grandmother Mimi. She was the kind of woman who made biscuits every mornin’ and was famous for them. I aspire to follow in her footsteps.

For months, I overworked, underworked, added too much, added too little, baked too long, baked too little, until one day, I did it. I made the most perfect, fluffy, layered, decadent batch of biscuits! Turns out, it was the first recipe I ever tried — sort of like that first wedding dress — and ended up being what I now refer to as the OG Buttermilk Biscuit recipe. There’re a lot of ways to make a biscuit, but to make a great biscuit, you’ve got to relax and can’t overthink it.

Today, biscuits are my favorite thing to make and my favorite thing to teach people to make. I’ve done all the overthinking for you already, so to make a gold-standard biscuit, all you need to do is get out a rolling pin and follow this recipe to a T.

  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ cup (115 g) unsalted butter, cubed, ice cold
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) buttermilk, ice cold
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Honey Butter and Quick Jam (recipes follow), for serving

Preheat the oven to 450 degree F (220 degrees C). Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Scatter the butter over the flour mixture and freeze for 20 minutes. This ensures that the bowl and ingredients are good and cold.

Remove the flour and butter mixture from the freezer and shake it into a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs the size of small peas (about 10 pulses). Pour the mixture back into the cold bowl.

Using a spoon, dig a small crater in the middle of the mixture. Pour the buttermilk into the crater. With a wooden or metal spoon, gently stir until just combined, forming a shaggy dough. Your dough should just barely come together, leaving at least ¼ cup [30 g] of flour mix in the bottom of the bowl.

Dust a flat surface with flour by sifting over it. (The benefit of sifted flour is it prevents sticking but isn’t incorporated into the dough.) Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and knead gently and quickly to form a ball.

With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to ¼ in (6 mm) thickness, shaping it into a long oval. (The dough will be roughly the same height as your flat hand on the surface of the table.) Fold the dough top to bottom like an envelope and press with your fingertips, making sure the two sides are sealed together. Repeat this step, folding left to right. Your dough should now be in the shape of a square. Flip the dough over and sift more flour on top. Rollout the dough to ½ in (12 mm) thickness. (The dough will now be as thick as both your hands stacked on top of one another on the table.) Using a sharp knife, cut the biscuits into four even squares, making sure to cut every side. Or use a 3 in (8 cm) round ring cutter or an empty soup can to cut out the biscuits by pressing straight down. Don’t turn the cutter — that will cause the edges to seal, preventing them from rising to perfection.

Place the biscuits 2 in (5 cm) apart on the prepared sheet. Brush evenly and lightly with the egg wash. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then enjoy immediately.

Honey Butter (4 to 6 servings or ½ cup (115 g) butter)

  • ½ cup (115 g) butter, at room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp salt

In a small bowl, stir together the ingredients until combined; spread on each half of a warm biscuit. The honey butter will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Quick Jam (4 to 6 servings or 2 cups (700 g) jam)

  • 4 cups (500 g) mixed fresh or frozen berries
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon

In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a simmer over medium- low heat, stirring constantly. Lower the heat to low and continue to simmer, halfway off the heat, for 20 to 30 minutes. Stir frequently, making sure the bottom does not burn. The jam should be thick but not stiff. To test the consistency, spread a thin line of jam on your counter or a cold plate. The jam should easily hold a fi rm edge when spread with a spoon and have a slightly wrinkled texture. Enjoy immediately.

RELATED: ‘Top Chef’ winner’s book lauds Southern women who ‘do a little bit of everything’

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Want to make perfect biscuits? Alabama's ‘Top Chef’ winner shares her recipe (2024)


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