Make-Ahead Buttermilk Biscuits

Make Ahead Buttermilk Biscuits

Some nights you just need a magic wand and some kind of Potteresque spell, like “Accio Pizza.” Time is short, little ones are needy, and by 5:00 you’ve already had a long day. Mondays are those nights for us. I get home from work around 4:30. #1 has her toddler gymnastics classes (ADORABLE!!) at 5:45. That leaves, let’s see, approximately 45 minutes for me to prepare and serve dinner before we have to hit the road.

Alas, I don’t have a wand. (But for real, how great would it be to use “Petrificus Totalus” when you’ve got to put tights on a squirming two-year-old? Or the Impervius Charm to keep tomato sauce off her shirt on spaghetti nights?) I do have a modern form of magic, though: refrigeration. Things that can go straight from the freezer to the oven seem downright miraculous when you’ve got eighty things to do before you head out the door.

Photo Apr 01, 6 39 52 PM

And thus I present to you make-ahead buttermilk biscuits. I usually make a double batch (or a 1 1/2 batch) of these when I have extra buttermilk left over from some other baking extravaganza. We can eat some immediately, and then I freeze the unbaked leftovers for those hectic Monday nights, lazy Sunday mornings, or any other time I just need a biscuit. These are soft, fluffy, and buttery–perfect for eating with gravy, making breakfast-for-dinner sandwiches, or giving a hungry kid a quick energy burst for gymnastics.Photo Apr 01, 11 33 49 AMNot that this particular kid needs much of an energy burst. But she will sit still to eat biscuits. That’s its own special kind of magic.

Time Commitment: 30-40 minutes, but only 15 minutes when you’ve got some of these stored in your freezer.

Mess: I kind of hate scraping up dough from my countertops. But for biscuits, it’s a labor of love.

Special Equipment: I use a food processor for this, but you could go old school and use a pastry blender.

Make-Ahead Buttermilk Biscuits Make Ahead Buttermilk Biscuits

Adapted from Chef John’s Buttermilk Biscuits

Makes 8 large or 12 small biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into thin slices and chilled until firm in freezer
  • 3/4 – 1 cup cold buttermilk
  • Melted butter or buttermilk for brushing (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of your food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
  3. Add butter to food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles course crumbs.
  4. Transfer flour/butter mixture to a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Pour in 3/4 cup buttermilk. Stir until just combined.
  5. If your mixture isn’t holding together into a soft dough, add in another 1/4 cup or so of the buttermilk.
  6. Turn dough out onto a well-floured counter top and pat to about 3/4-inch thick.
  7. Cut your biscuits. Gently re-combine and re-pat your dough until you’ve used it all.
  8. Transfer biscuits to your baking sheet. Brush with melted butter or buttermilk (optional), and bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  9. Make-ahead option: Instead of lining your baking sheet with parchment paper, line it with wax paper. Use this baking sheet to freeze unbaked biscuits for a couple hours, until fully frozen. Then place biscuits in a freezer-safe baggie and store them for up to a couple of months. No need to thaw before baking; you’ll just have to add an additional 2 or 3 minutes to the bake time.

Best Whole Wheat Bread

the best whole wheat bread

Rating: 5/5 stars. This surprisingly un-fussy whole wheat bread, sweetened with honey and molasses, makes a great addition to any meal.

I’d love to say that I’m a great bread baker. I love bread, first of all. And second, there’s really no comparison between home-baked and store-bought bread. Home-baked bread takes the cake (the loaf?) every time. In fact, I do make bread fairly regularly. But it’s always just one recipe: this one. I’ve been making this very same whole wheat bread since Rob and I got married, way back when we lived in Southern California–(gulp!) almost five years ago.

I know I need to expand my bread repertoire (beyond that one attempt at French bread several years ago, which ended up with a consistency remarkably like that of a concrete block). But this bread is just that good. I’ve been making it for so long, I don’t even remember where the original recipe came from, although I do know I’ve made plenty of modifications over the years. And in those five years, I’ve had the same printed-out, scribbled-on paper with the directions. That paper, in the intervening time, has gotten creased, oil stained, sun bleached, and water damaged. I’ve been meaning to type up (and save!) a clean copy for a year or so. And then I figured, while I’m at it, why not share the very best whole wheat bread recipe with you? my ancient whole wheat bread recipe

This bread is incredibly versatile. Serve it with nut butter at breakfast or with avocado, tomato, and cheese at lunch. Serve it with soup (maybe this one or this one) for dinner. Or just toast a slice for a snack. I love it with butter and jam. And good luck resisting it warm from the oven…

Time Commitment: From start to finish, you can make this loaf in under 2 1/2 hours: 15 minutes for preparing the dough, 45 minutes for the first rise, 5 minutes to shape the dough, 30 minutes for the second rise, and 35 minutes to bake.

Mess: This is a one-bowl recipe, but you do have to flour your counter-tops to shape the dough. That’s always a pain to clean up, so I sometimes lay down a couple pieces of wax paper for this step.

Special Equipment: I’ve always made this with a stand mixer. While it makes the process somewhat easier on the arms, you certainly don’t need one.

Mom Fails: As I may have mentioned, I’ve been making this recipe forever, so I know its failure points pretty well. First, make sure you thoroughly mix the ingredients as you add flour. Otherwise you may end up with small pockets that taste like pure salt. Yuck. Despite that precaution, you want to mix and knead this bread as little as possible; that keeps it from getting too tough. And finally, you definitely need good yeast–yeast that’s still alive and ready to do its yeasty duty. If your yeast has been around the block a few times and you’re not sure if it’s still active, try proofing it.

Best Whole Wheat BreadPhoto Feb 12, 11 48 42 AM

Makes two 9×5 loaves

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups hot water (as hot as comes out of your tap is fine)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 6 – 7 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I always use King Arthur.)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (optional)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon wheat gluten
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast (If you use rapid-rise yeast, you may want to reduce rise times by 10 minutes or so.)
  • Melted butter (optional, to brush loaves)

Directions

  1. Place the first five ingredients (water, oil, honey, molasses, and salt) in the bowl of your stand mixer with paddle attachment and mix thoroughly.
  2. Add 2 cups flour (to cool dough slightly) and mix; then add yeast and mix again.
  3. Add gluten and 4 cups flour. You can use all 4 cups whole wheat, or substitute one cup of all-purpose flour to make your bread a bit less dense. Mix.
  4. Change from the paddle attachment to the dough hook on your stand mixer. Continue adding flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a tacky ball around the dough hook. For me, this usually happens at 6 1/2 total cups of flour; sometimes in humid weather it takes closer to 7 cups. At that point, you can stop kneading.
  5. Spray some cooking spray on your dough ball and flip it over in your bowl so that the oiled side faces down. Cover the bowl and let your dough rise until just about doubled, 30-45 minutes.
  6. Now you shape the dough. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead a couple of times, then roll into a ball. Divide the ball in two. Roll each half of dough into a log roughly the size of the pan. Seal any gaps by pinching the edges together. Place each log into a greased loaf pan.
  7. Place pans into a warm (not hot!) oven and let the dough rise for another 20-30 minutes, or until the bread has risen to the size of a normal loaf.
  8. Turn on the oven to 350 degrees and let bread bake for 35-40 minutes, or until slightly browned on top.
  9. Five minutes before baking is done, you can pull the loaves out and brush their tops with melted butter.
  10. Cool loaves for five minutes in pans; then run a knife around the edges and turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. Once cool, wrap well with aluminum foil and store at room temperature.