Mrs. Bug's Buttermilk Drop Biscuits from Outlander book The Fiery Cross

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."

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.)

Buttermilk Drop Biscuit Dough

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 buttermilk 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.

baked buttermilk drop 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.

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

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.  

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Comments

10 Jan 2013 - 7:18am

Ouida Lampert


Argh! I have Celiac disease...got any idea for a gluten-free version? I am so NOT a chef, and could muddle through trials, but you - well, you ARE a chef, and, therefor, may have ideas that would help. Please? (Granted, Mrs. Bug wouldn't have made gluten-free anything, but, well, it never hurts to ask!).

Theresa


I am a Chef, Ouida...you`re right on that account. But gluten free baking is not something I know a lot about. Ginger`s suggestion to try Bob`s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour is a good one...here is a recipe from a site I trust. As you can see, a number of ingredients, that wouldn`t be in the average pantry, are required: http://realfoodmadeeasy.ca/2012/09/the-best-gluten-free-biscuits/

Ouida Lampert


Thanks Theresa! I'll look into the recipe at the link you gave me.

anna


I just realized from your post that Mrs Buggs biscuits where probably rolled since when Claire tried they always came out hard and non-edable. I am still going to try this recipe it looks delicious. I don't think I could do rolled and have them come out right at all.

Theresa


Well, these ones weren`t rolled, because there was still batter left in the bowl...but there`s no doubt Mrs. B also had a recipe for rolled. :)

10 Jan 2013 - 8:08am

ginger


I recently discovered Bob's Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour. We baked christmas cookies with it and they were fantastic!

10 Jan 2013 - 1:50pm

Aaron Brown

ohh my yummy!!!

10 Jan 2013 - 1:55pm

Gayle


I need to buy myself a cast iron skillet because these look so good and easy how could I pass this recipe up!

Theresa


you could use a cake pan, Gayle...but I couldn't live without my cast iron collection...I have one in almost every size!

Gayle


That's great advice! I am going to pick one up this weekend.

Susan


Gayle, my cast iron skillets are my first choice cookware. I use them so much, I leave them sitting out on the stove top!

Linda


Do you pre-heat the iron skillet for these biscuits???? Or put them in a cold one??

Theresa


There's no direction to preheat...they go into a cold pan.

10 Jan 2013 - 2:01pm

Becky S.


I clicked on the title and it just repeated this article. No printable recipe. Also, it's my understanding that Bisquick is a GMO product.

Theresa


I'll fix the link now, Becky...thanks! And it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if Bisquick was GMO.

10 Jan 2013 - 2:09pm

Gayle Anderson


You can make your own pastry flour. 3/4 Cup of sifted all purpose and 1/4 Cup of Corn Flour (cornstarch), sifted and then the two mixed.

Theresa


I have heard of combining cake flour and a.p. flour to make pastry flour, Gayle, but never cornstarch. Cornstarch and corn flour are also 2 very different products in my experience. Do you have experience using this mixture? Or perhaps a link where you found it? Thank you!n

Kim


I think for every cup, it's just two tablespoons. I do that home when I'm out of cake flour. Here is someone else who does the same thing. :)nnhttp://joythebaker.com/2009/09/how-to-make-cake-flour/nn[K]

Theresa


Thanks, Kim. I think that's a great idea for use in a pinch. I would compare it to using clabbered milk in place of buttermilk...it's not the thing, but it's great when you don't have the time, money or inclination to buy another bag of flour.nn(The cornstarch reduces the protein count in the flour...however it's not true cake or pastry flour.)

10 Jan 2013 - 2:46pm

hockeyirene


Thank you so much, Theresa, for your tantalizing recipes inspired by DG's books - it is a brighter day when there is a post from you. I can't wait to try these - now to find "buttermilk" in Zurich! (Shopping and cooking, and especially baking, are an extra challenge in a foreign country - does away with complacency, though!)nnIrene - On The Road

Theresa


As always, it`s my pleasure, Irene...I have the best job in the world. :) Buttermilk shouldn`t be too hard to find in Switzerland. Europeans are fond of their buttermilk...but if you don`t have any luck, don`t forget you can always use clabbered milk (directions for that are under the recipe in the notes section)

10 Jan 2013 - 5:08pm

Jessica Godfrey


So good!!!! I didn't think about adding honey to the mix. I usually add a tbsp of sugar. Going to try it this weekend with the flour combo!! We need a cookbook for all the delish-dishes

Theresa


I subbed honey for the sugar in the base recipe, Jessica...it just seemed more like something Mrs. Bug would use.

10 Jan 2013 - 5:12pm

Jeanette Pridemore


Thank you so much for this delicious looking recipe. My husband's mother is from Virginia and made biscuits like this using lard. This seems like a "healthier" version to me. Thank you for taking time to do this for us crazed Outlander fans!

Theresa


I`m glad you put healthier in quotes, Jeanette...fat is fat, but I have to agree; I prefer butter in most things.

10 Jan 2013 - 5:32pm

Jennifer Harrell


These turned out quite wonderful - I didn't have buttermilk or cake flour. I did have unbleached bread flour, unflavored Kefir, and a fresh batch of yogurt whey from last night's crock pot yogurt making. I used the bread flour and the yogurt whey. These are still light, airy, and have an excellent flavor! I'm forever needing ways to use up yogurt whey that doesn't end up dense. These did perfectly with it!

Theresa


I love a frugal cook who wants to use everything! A woman after my own heart, Jennifer...and I`m thrilled that you liked them!

Jennifer Harrell


So did the baby girl I keep - I posted her joy over them at your Facebook page :)

10 Jan 2013 - 6:42pm

Alyson


I'm so amped you made us a biscuit recipe!! Thank you! As usual, you always post stuff that even us newbie cooks can look at and realize, hey, I can make this! Kitchen motivation. So awesome.

Theresa


Cooking should be fun and doable, Alyson. So glad to be your kitchen muse! :D

13 Jan 2013 - 9:23pm

#


Looks like a great recipe! I'll have to give it a try, though I do think of myself as "biscuit gene" lacking. My grandma made wonderful biscuits and she tried very hard to teach me her method, I just never got it. Her's weren't rolled or dropped, more patted out and then cut. If you have any ideas about how that would work I would love to hear your thoughts. I really miss her biscuits! Till then I'll give your recipe a whirl. Thanks for sharing it with us. :)

Theresa


I bet your grandma's recipe was for rolled biscuits...she just patted the dough out instead of using a rolling pin. The less you work a dough, the more tender the biscuits, so your grandma must have been very gentle with her dough.

14 Jan 2013 - 5:41pm

Kim


I agree w/ you actually, that using corn starch to make cake flour isn't the same thing. I came to that conclusing by doing a side by side comparison of that and the "real thing." The results were noticeably "different."nnAlso, I'm back to report that I made a batch of these drop biscuits over the weekend to go with my sausage gravy. I didn't have the patience to roll out my usual recipe, so tried this one instead. I think it's a winner! I like the tip about putting cold buttermilk onto melted butter to make little clumps. After making the dough, I also put it back into the freezer to stay cool while my oven warmed up to the correct temperature. nnVery nice.nnThansk!nn[K]

Theresa


I'm glad we agree, Kim! I was thinking I might experiment with that sub for pastry flour too...nnAnd I'm chuffed that you like the biscuits. :)

20 Jan 2013 - 3:45pm

Joy


Just to note...the southern brand you reference is White Lily -- close, but no cigar ;)

20 Jan 2013 - 8:31pm

Elaine Boyle


Honey chile, being a Southern lady myself, I have to correct just one little thang - it's White Lily flour, not Lily White!

21 Jan 2013 - 6:08pm

Nikki skinner


I made these today and they are amazing! Delicate, flakey, full of flavor and, the best part, so easy! Thank you for the recipe!

21 Jan 2013 - 9:20pm

Jen


Ok, I really want to make these, but I'm the most hopeless cook in the world. I didn't read this whole post, since I was in a hurry, and I just read the ingredients. I ran to the store, and sure enough, there was nothing at all called cake/pastry flour. (I'm one where flour is the most foreign thing - if the recipe flour doesn't match up with the name of the flour on the package, I get confused lol).nnAnyway, I am in the south and have the White Lily or whatever flour at the store - is that the best type of flour to use in lieu of cake/pastry flour? I'll probably try these soon with just all-purpose flour (it sounds like bread flour is not a better substitute than all-purpose?), but I'm wondering if the White Lily is better...

Theresa


White Lily is the ULTIMATE choice for Southern biscuits, Jen. If you choose to go with that, simply omit the baking powder in my recipe. I would probably try them with just All Purpose flour first...after all, why buy another bag of flour if you don`t "need" it? :D

Jen


Thanks :) I'll definitely try all-purpose since I have it and I can't stand waiting any longer for them - they look so yummy! I'll let you know how they turn out!

Jen


I made them with all-purpose flour just now - they were AMAZING! (Served them with dinner of ham and mashed potatoes - perfect!). They started browning before the insides were cooked, so I had to bake them a couple minutes longer, but the outsides didn't burn or get too crispy or anything (I think I made them too big - I used the measuring cup but I somehow only got 9 biscuits total instead of 12) - so it's even better - a recipe that still tastes amazing, even when I mess it up :)

Theresa


Doesn't sound like a very big mess up to me...in fact, it sounds plain delicious!

22 Jan 2013 - 4:00am

bullrem


I make rolled biscuits; live in the South; and have never given a thought to the type of A/P flour I buy, usually Kroger brand. I must start buying White Lily and I will definitely use your drop recipe. nThanks, a bunch. Helen in Ark.

Theresa

I bet your rolled biscuits are to die for, Helen!

22 Jan 2013 - 4:36am

Darden


I am a good southern girl who comes from a long line of ladies who love to cook and bake, but none of them taught me to make biscuits. My elders were all lucky enough to have someone else in the kitchen who made the biscuits. Although my mother could fry some chicken she never attempted the biscuits, too much work, too messy. Seriously, like fried chicken isn't messy. Tonight I made these biscuits for my Daddy. He LOVED them. They were so easy and were light and fluffy. Dad said he always found the problem was getting biscuits cooked all the way through. He can't wait for the leftovers for breakfast.nnInspired, I made some more but added about a cup and a half of extra sharp cheddar cheese. They need about an extra minute to cook, but OMG, fantastic. Now I can't wait for breakfast.

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