Yogurt or Buttermilk Biscuits

MAKES: 10 or more biscuits, depending on size

TIME: 20 to 30 minutes

The easiest and best way to make biscuits is with yogurt, because the results are tangy, tender, and flaky. Buttermilk is my second choice, but if you have neither just make the Baking Powder Biscuits variation. For an extra-soft crumb, use cake flour. Vary these biscuits with any of the ideas listed in 12 Additions to Virtually Any Quick Bread, Muffin, Biscuit, or Scone.

2 cups all-purpose or cake flour, plus more as needed

1 scant teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 to 5 tablespoons cold butter (more is better)

7/8 cup yogurt or buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 450В°F.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl or food processor. Cut the butter into bits and either pulse it in the food processor (easier) or pick up a bit of the dry ingredients, rub them with the butter between your fingers, and drop them again. Make sure all the butter is thoroughly blended into the flour mixture before proceeding.

Use a large spoon to stir in the yogurt just until the mixture forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it 10 times; no more. If it is very sticky, add a little flour, but very little; it should still stick to your hands a little.

Press the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle and cut into 2-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter or glass. Put the rounds on an ungreased baking sheet. Gently reshape the leftover dough and cut again.

Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, or until the biscuits are a beautiful golden brown. Serve within 15 minutes for them to be at their best.

Variations

Baking Powder Biscuits. Slightly different flavor but good texture: Increase the baking powder by a teaspoon and omit the soda. Use sweet milk in place of yogurt or buttermilk.

Drop (Emergency) Biscuits. Not quite as good, though you’ll save 5 minutes: Increase the yogurt or buttermilk to 1 cup and drop tablespoons of the dough onto a greased baking sheet. Bake as in the main recipe.

Sweet Potato Biscuits. Southern-style goodness; great with Creamy Peanut Soup: Grease the baking sheets. Stir 1 cup cooked, drained, and pured sweet potato or winter squash into the butter-flour mixture. Add only enough yogurt or buttermilk to form the dough into a ball, usually between 1/2 and 3/4 cup (if your potatoes are very dry, you may need the whole 7/8 cup. Roll the dough a little thinner about 1/2 inch thick. Cut as directed, into about 24 biscuits, and bake at 450В°F for 12 to 15 minutes.