Buttermilk Cookies

The acidity of buttermilk or yogurt makes a tender crumb, as does cake flour if you have it.
TIME 20 to 30 minutes
MAKES 6 to 12 biscuits, depending on size
2 cups all-purpose or cake flour, plus more for shaping the biscuits
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into ½-inch slices
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk or yogurt

1 Heat the oven to 450°F. Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the butter and press it into the flour mixture, breaking it into tiny pieces with your fingers until the mixture looks like coarse meal.

2 Add the buttermilk and stir just until the mixture comes together and forms a ball. Spread some flour (about ¼ cup) on a clean work surface and turn the dough out onto the flour. Knead the dough a few times, adding a little more flour to your hands only if the dough is very sticky.

3 Press the dough out ¾ inch thick and cut out 1½- to 2½-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter or drinking glass. Put the rounds on an ungreased baking sheet. Press together the scraps, pat them out ¾ inch thick, and cut out more biscuits. Repeat once more if possible.

4 Bake for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on size, until the biscuits are golden brown. Transfer the biscuits to a rack and serve within 15 minutes or wrap in foil and keep in a 200°F oven for up to an hour.

  • Buttermilk Biscuits in the Food Processor: In Step 1, put the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse several times to incorporate it into the flour mixture. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and continue the recipe with Step 2.
  • Drop Biscuits: Perfect if you’re in a hurry, with either the hand-mixed or food processor method, but not quite as flaky: Increase the buttermilk to 1 cup and skip the kneading in Step 2; instead, drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto a greased baking sheet and bake as directed.

  • Since cake flour has less of the protein gluten than all-purpose flour, it ensures the biscuits will be flaky. But it can make the dough harder to work with, so if you’re worried, try using a combination of both flours.
  • If you prefer, you can use a rolling pin to spread the dough out ¾ inch thick instead of pressing it with your hands. The texture will be a little more even and breadlike.

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