Rosehill Sourdough’s Discard Buttermilk Biscuits
“Biscuit” may be a humble word, but it’s also a contentious one —at least, if you ask an American and a Brit. In the States, a biscuit usually refers to a small, soft bread made with flour, butter and shortening, one that’s at turns both flaky and crumbly (and often served with sausage gravy, a particular favorite in the South). In the UK, if you asked for “biscuits and gravy,” you’d be served a stomach-turning gravy-soaked plate of assorted sweet cookies, or you know, biscuits. In this recipe, we’ll explore the former.
The American biscuit’s distinctive hard exterior is thought to have originated from 19th century cooks, who beat air into the dough to achieve a rise in the oven, well before commercial leavening agents like baking soda and powder were readily available. The hard exterior of these calorie-dense biscuits helped them stay fresh longer than bread, and also allowed them to hold their shape for mopping up gravy. Today’s biscuits are much softer and flakier, and while their roots were planted in the South, they’re now found on tables across the country, and are often used for all manner of breakfast and other savoury sandwiches.
This recipe for buttermilk biscuits from Ooni’s in-house sourdough scholar Mike Vaona (@rosehillsourdough) comes from his new ebook, “Pizza With Rosehill Sourdough.” In a true hardscrabble form that mirrors the biscuit’s humble origins, this recipe leaves nothing to waste. Next time you’re feeding your starter, don’t toss the discard. Instead, whip up a batch of these melt-in-your-mouth buttermilk biscuits in less than an hour.
Mike uses a simple lamination technique (a repetitive process of folding and rolling butter into dough) to create velvety thin layers perfect for sopping up melting butter, cream gravy, runny egg yolks and honey. Fresh from the oven, they’re a pleasure that defies any explanation. Trust us.
Notes: You’ll need a mature sourdough starter for this recipe. (Making one from scratch will take about five days.) Whether you’re keeping your starter alive with a weekly feeding or feeding it to bake, you’re going to end up with more culture than you need. Fact. This recipe is perfect for making use of that leftover culture.
9 large or 12 medium biscuits
40 minutes preparation, 15 minutes cook time
6 ounces (170 grams) sourdough discard
6 ounces (170 grams) buttermilk
1 ¾ cups (400 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 ½ teaspoons (10 grams) sea salt
¾ teaspoon (3 grams) baking soda
1 tablespoon (16 grams) baking powder
¾ cup (180 grams) cold, unsalted butter, plus more for topping
In a large bowl, combine the sourdough discard and buttermilk, then place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a small dish and set aside.
Cut the remaining cold butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender, or if you prefer, use a mechanical blender. Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs in texture. Don’t overmix or allow the butter to melt.
Fire up your Ooni pizza oven, aiming for 220˚C (425˚F) on the stone baking board inside.
Pour the flour and butter mixture into the buttermilk and fold to combine. It’s okay if the mix is a little crumbly; it will come together in the next two steps.
Place the dough on a floured work surface. Flour the top of the dough and roll out to a 12-inch circle. Using a bench scraper, divide the dough into 9 squares, each about 4 inches wide.
To laminate the dough, stack the 9 squares and roll them out into one 12-inch square-ish shape. Repeat the lamination by dividing the rolled dough into 9 squares again, stack, and roll into a 12-inch square.
Using a bench scraper, evenly cut the dough into 9 or 12 biscuits. If you prefer to use a round biscuit cutter, laminate the remnants before cutting more biscuits. Repeat until all the dough has been used.
Check the oven temperature and wait or adjust as needed. Place the biscuits in a buttered cast iron skillet. Brush the biscuits with melted butter.
Bake the biscuits for 15 minutes, or until golden brown, turning once halfway through. After baking, remove the biscuits from the cast iron and transfer to a cooling rack.
Enjoy the biscuits hot with butter, honey, maple syrup or sausage gravy.