Biscuits: the forgiving bread product

Unmarried, childless and middle-aged. Therefore, expected to be a Thanksgiving guest in my parents home instead of the host of a Thanksgiving event. I love being with them but once I get home, I need to have a personal Thanksgiving dinner of my own devising. Tuesday was Thanksgiving again for me. I made my favorite turkey breast recipe (there would only be two of us so we didn’t need the whole bird), stuffing with pecans subbed in for the fussier chestnuts, maple glazed sweet potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, steamed brussels sprouts and green peas (two very pedestrian vegetables to cut through the richness of the meal). It was a three-hour whirlwind cooking experience and in the middle of it, I realized there was no bread. I meant to buy rolls, but I forgot. I didn’t realize my error in time, so I couldn’t make bread. Once I thought about what to do, realized I had something good in my repertoire that I could toss together between making the sweet potatoes and finishing the rest of the cooking: sourdough biscuits.

As luck would have it, I did plan to make a sourdough loaf the next day for turkey sandwiches, so Herbert was happily bubbling away on the counter. I made sourdough biscuits a couple of times before, but I always made them with whole wheat pastry flour and I always had buttermilk on hand. I was nearly out of pastry flour and I was certainly missing the buttermilk. There was no way I could leave to go to the store. What do I do when I have no buttermilk but need to make a recipe that requires it? I substitute plain nonfat yogurt diluted with nonfat milk. You see, buttermilk hasn’t been real buttermilk for years now. Instead of being the liquid that is leftover as a byproduct of making butter, it is now a cultured milk product similar to yogurt or kefir, but not as thick. I love using buttermilk in recipes. It makes things tender, flavorful and fluffy, but a mixture of yogurt and milk makes a good stand in.

The resulting biscuits were everything I needed. They were quick to prepare. They were flaky and tender. Because I used mostly white flour, they also carried the yogurt/sourdough flavors well. My boyfriend could not stop eating these biscuits and he could not stop talking about how delicious they were. To me, that is the best praise of all. Now that I happened onto this new method for making biscuits, I think I will revise the recipe for good.

These biscuits go to YeastSpotting, showcasing the best bread on the internet every week!

Oh… and before I forget… I have the opportunity to give away a Reserve kit of Muir Glen Tomatoes this week. If you are interested in my contest, click here and drop a comment on the Muir Glen Tomato Giveaway post.



Sourdough biscuits redux

Adapted from the Golden sourdough biscuits recipe on Recipe finder

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp baking soda

½ cup cold unsalted butter

1 cup well fed sourdough starter

¼ cup nonfat plain yogurt

¼ cup nonfat milk

2 tbsp melted butter for brushing the muffins

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees f.

In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, white flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Using a pastry-cutter cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Don’t let the butter get too warm, you want the cold butter chunks to stay pretty solid to help with the flakiness of the finished biscuits. Mix together yogurt and milk. Mix with a whisk or fork until smooth. Mix the sourdough starter into the yogurt mixture. Add the yogurt mixture to the flour mixture. Using a silicone spatula, mix the dough until well combined.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead the dough a dozen times. Pat the dough into a 1“ thick round. Cut the dough with a 2 1/2” biscuit cutter. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or butter the cookie sheet. Place the biscuits close together on the lined sheet. If there are dough scraps, gently press them together, form a ball and pat it out to 1” thickness again. Cut more biscuits. If I have enough scraps left for one more biscuit, I usually just squash it out into one last free form biscuit. Just don’t over knead the dough while you work with the scraps.

Bake the biscuits for 12 – 15 minutes until golden browned. Remove from the oven and brush the biscuits with melted butter. Allow them to cool before serving.



  1. Natashya said,

    December 4, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Mmm, sourdough would add a whole new dimension to buttermilk biscuits – they sound perfect for a holiday table – no matter what the size!

  2. drfugawe said,

    December 5, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    That is -sincerely- a beautiful recipe! And the pic ain’t bad either. I’m adding this one to my fridge door (which is of course the resting spot for the most serious recipes a cook possesses). Really nice, Mimi.

    Hey, do you know that you can make your own buttermilk? If you take the last cup in your buttermilk carton and add new milk (any fat level you want) and leave it out at room temp for 24 hours, it’ll “culture”, just like yogurt will. The ratio is not critical, but if you use more milk than 3 to 1, it may take longer at room temp to culture – try it.

  3. Jeremy said,

    December 6, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    So half and half yoghurt to milk is a substitute for buttermilk? That’s good to know, because you can’t even get cultured buttermilk easily here in Italy.

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