Mrs. Bug’s Buttermilk Drop Biscuits from The Fiery Cross
IT SEEMED RATHER a long time before Jamie reappeared, though the indignant cries of the searchers had been quickly stilled. If Jamie had got his bum smacked, Roger thought cynically, he appeared to have enjoyed it. A slight flush showed on the high cheekbones, and he wore a faint but definite air of satisfaction.
This was explained at once, though, when Jamie produced a small bundle from inside his shirt and unwrapped a linen towel, revealing half a dozen fresh biscuits, still warm, and dripping with melted butter and honey.
“I think perhaps Mrs. Bug meant them for the quilting circle,” he said, distributing the booty. “But here was plenty of batter left in the bowl; I doubt they’ll be missed.”
Diana Gabaldon, The Fiery Cross (Chapter 108 – Tulach Ard)
You asked for it, you got it!
Mrs. Bug’s Biscuits was the number one requested recipe for 2013, which, I have to say, surprised me. I was expecting a lot of requests for Turtle Soup…there’s always a lot of requests for that. In fact, I couldn’t believe it that there wasn’t even one mention of it this time.
Instead, I got a creative list of suggestions that I plan to go back to again and again.
(Never fear. Turtle Soup is on the OK menu…one day.)
Mrs. Bug makes more than one batch of biscuits during her tenure in the Ridge kitchen. These ones, slathered in butter and honey, were specifically requested by the Biscuit Bandwagon, so, as I do with almost every recipe I create here on OK, I went back to DG’s text for a specific description of the food in question.
There’s batter left in the bowl. Now, if these were rolled biscuits, you’d expect Jamie to have found the dough rolled out on the kitchen bench, with holes cut out from the ones Mrs. B had already baked (and he, Himself made off with). However, he didn’t, so I’m going with drop biscuits.
Which is also a good fit with the number of people that mentioned Bisquick along with their request for a homemade recipe. If you’re used to the speed of Bisquick, consider this recipe a warm up to rolled biscuits.
I am proud to know several Southern ladies because of Outlander and Outlander Kitchen. They are a great source of information for me when I start to research recipes, especially those from the Ridge. My call for biscuit tips got a great response, and I now know a lot more about keeping rolled biscuits tender. There will be a second biscuit post verra soon.
But for now, I can hear their inevitable indignant cries as I type away here, knowing that as they scroll down to look at my recipe, they’ll discover I disregarded almost every piece of advice their grandmothers gave them. But I had good reason (and results), I promise.
Cook’s Illustrated stirs slightly cooled, melted butter into the buttermilk in their drop biscuit recipe to speed the whole process up. The result is a strange looking mixture full of clumps of butter which act, just like the cut-in butter in a traditional recipe, to add height and buttery flavour. I started with theirs as my base recipe, then made a few changes based on some additional research.
Many sources for a real Southern biscuit will direct you to the recipe on the side of a package of White Lily Self Rising Flour. Available predominantly in the South, Lily-White is from southern Winter Wheat, which, like most European flours, contains less protein than the harder Spring Wheat grown in the northern parts of North America.
The protein content of flour greatly affects the tenderness of the finished product. In general, bread flour has more protein than all-purpose, which has more protein than cake & pastry flour. White Lily flour is somewhere between the all-purpose and cake & pastry flours we have up here.
All of that is a good way of making something much more complicated than it should be…but I was asked for an Ultimate Biscuit, so I went all out and got into the chemistry of things. If you’re interested, I’ve listed the protein contents of the flours I used in the recipe. My combination of two different flours made for a delicious, tender biscuit.
If all you’ve got is all-purpose, don’t let that stop you. They’ll be just as delicious, if only a little less tender. No big deal.
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
: Tender, buttery southern-style biscuits, ready in a flash. No kneading or rolling required.
Yield: 1 dozen
- Butter – ½ Cup
- All-Purpose Flour (13% protein) – 1 Cup
- Cake & Pastry Flour (10% protein) – 1 Cup
- Baking Powder – 2½ tsp
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Baking Soda – ½ tsp
- Buttermilk, cold – 1 Cup
- Honey – 1 tsp
- Butter, melted – 2 Tble (for brushing the baked biscuits hot out of the oven)
Move the rack to the upper-middle of the oven and heat to 475°. Melt the butter and allow it to cool for 5 minutes while you assemble the other ingredients.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, melted butter and honey. Stir well.
Add the lumpy buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed, and the batter pulls away from the side of the bowl. Use a lightly greased ¼ cup measure to scoop out level portions and drop onto an ungreased 9-10” round pan. Arrange 9 biscuits around the outside and 3 in the middle of the pan.
Bake until the tops are golden, 13-15 minutes. Once out of the oven, brush the tops of the biscuits with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Cool 5 minutes on wire rack before serving.
Serve warm, drizzled with honey and even more butter if your hips can handle it.
Reheat day-old biscuits briefly to refresh.
Ith gu leòir! (Eat Plenty)
- If you don’t have cake & pastry flour, substitute all-purpose – the biscuits will be a little less tender.
- I recommend real buttermilk for this recipe. Clabbered milk, a common substitute for buttermilk, just isn’t the same here. That said, I did make a batch with clabbered milk, and they’ll do in a pinch. To clabber milk, stir 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice into 1 cup of milk and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir again and proceed with recipe.
- I used a cast iron pan, but a round cake pan will also do.