May 27, 2019

Buttermilk Biscuits by CHLB

Apparently National Buttermilk Biscuit Day was May 14 so I'm a bit late to the game this year.  I just returned from a trip down South, to Charleston, SC, and had to share some pictures of Callie's Hot Little Biscuits (or CHLB).   It's located in the tiniest sliver of a shop on Upper King Street but produces some of the best biscuits I've ever tasted.  The first day I visited was a bit of a queue but the promise of delicious southern biscuits made it worth the wait.

I love that on the wall of the shop they've literally painted the recipe for their famous buttermilk biscuits.  How cute is that?  Back in March I made their Cheese & Chive Biscuits so for this post I made the original buttermilk that started the CHLB phenomenon.  The employees were so kind when I bombarded them with questions.  They said the key was to use White Lily Unbleached Self-Rising Flour (with the red label!) and to work the flour and butter first, until it's like the texture of grated parmesan cheese, and THEN, work in the cream cheese.  Previously I'd mixed the butter and cream cheese together with the flour.

As is the custom whenever I travel I always try to bring back a baking souvenir.  On this trip I brought four 5-lb bags of the White Lily flour.  Yes, call me crazy, but it's so expensive to buy in the West Coast!  I literally had to go to several supermarkets to find the unbleached self-rising flour but eventually found success at a Walmart Supercenter in Mount Pleasant.

While Callie's biscuits are the ultimate, I think mine come pretty darn close.  I love to eat them warm with butter or homemade jam but I've also started to serve them with some pimento cheese.  You better believe I brought back some of that Southern delicacy with me as well!  

Buttermilk Biscuits by CHLB

2 cups self-rising flour (White Lily preferred), plus more for dusting
4 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature and cubed
1/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature and cut in to cubes
3/4 cup whole buttermilk (if you can't find this you can use Bulgarian buttermilk)
1 tablespoon salted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Make sure the oven rack is in the middle position.  

Measure the flour into a large bowl. Incorporate the cubed butter, then the cream cheese into the flour, using your fingers to “cut in” the butter and cheese until the mixture resembles cottage cheese. It will be chunky with some loose flour. 

Make a well in the center. Pour in the buttermilk and, using your hands or a small rubber spatula, mix the flour into the buttermilk. The dough will be wet and messy.  

Sprinkle flour on top of the dough. Run a rubber spatula around the inside of the bowl, creating a separation between the dough and the bowl. Sprinkle a bit more flour in this crease. 

Flour a work surface or flexible baking mat very well. With force, dump the dough from the bowl onto the surface. Flour the top of the dough and the rolling pin. Roll out the dough to 1-inch thickness into an oval shape. (No kneading is necessary — the less you mess with the dough, the better.)  

Flour a 2-inch round metal biscuit cutter or biscuit glass. Start from the edge of the rolled-out dough and cut straight through the dough with the cutter, trying to maximize the number of biscuits cut from this first roll out. Roll out the excess dough after the biscuits are cut and cut more biscuits. As long as the dough stays wet inside, you can use as much flour on the outside as you need to handle the dough. 

Place the biscuits on a baking sheet with sides lined with parchment paper, or in a cast-iron skillet, or a baking pan with the biscuit sides touching. (It does not matter what size pan or skillet you use as long as the pan has a lip or sides and the biscuits are touching. If you are using a cast iron skillet, no parchment paper is necessary.) Brush the tops with the melted butter.  

Place the pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 450 degrees. Bake 16 to 18 minutes until light brown on top (or as dark as you prefer) and rotate the pan once while baking.


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