This is the biscuit recipe I’ve been searching for my entire life. Before making these, I thought the perfect biscuits could only come from a can. Flaky with layers upon layers of buttery, rich crumb and a slight sourdough tang, you won't believe how easy they are to make! I promise after you make these Sourdough Biscuits, you’ll come up with an excuse to eat biscuits every day.
Baking with your sourdough discard
Biscuits are a type of quick bread leavened using chemical leaveners (baking soda and baking powder) instead of biological leaveners (commercial yeast or sourdough). Because you won’t be using your sourdough to make these biscuits rise you can bake with your sourdough discard straight from the refrigerator without activating or feeding it first.
If you love quick breads try my recipe for Sourdough Discard Scones.
What you'll need
Sourdough discard - adds a lovely tang to the rich butteriness of these biscuits
Buttermilk - for super tender fluffy biscuits, always use buttermilk, the acidity reacts with the baking powder giving you pillowy soft biscuits that are out of this world! You can substitute milk in a pinch but your biscuits won't be as tender.
Unsalted butter - imparts tons of flavor while the fat molecules coat the flour which prevents gluten development. As your biscuits bake, the water from the butter evaporates which creates hundreds of flaky layers. Remember to keep your butter cold!
All-purpose flour - all-purpose has the perfect amount of protein in it to create fluffy biscuits that maintain their structure, I would not recommend substituting whole wheat, but in a pinch you can use pastry or cake flour
Baking powder - main leavening agent that reacts with the buttermilk, it tenderizes the dough makes these biscuits rise and gives them a fluffy crumb
Baking soda - helps your biscuits brown better and balances the acidic flavors in the bake
Granulated sugar - adds a little bit of sweetness
Salt - brings out the flavor of the butter and discard
How to make flakey layers
- Roll the biscuit dough out to a 1-inch thick rectangle and divide the dough into two portions
- Stack the dough, divide it once more and stack again so that you have 4 layers of biscuit dough
- Flatten the dough out into a 1-inch rectangle about 12 by 6 inches (you don't have to be exact)
Trim the edges of the dough, this will help your biscuit layers rise as they bake. Divide your dough into a 4 x 3 grid and you should end up with 12 biscuits.
Your leaveners are past their prime. Baking soda and baking powder have a shelf life and after a point are no longer viable. Test your leaveners by combining a teaspoon with a drop of vinegar, if it fizzes it's still good and you can still use it. If it does not it will no longer make your bread rise and it should be thrown away.
Your butter got too warm. As your biscuits bake, ideally the water in your butter will evaporate and your dough will puff up into individual flaky layers. However, if your butter gets too hot from too much handling, the butter will simply melt out of your dough. If your butter begins to feel too soft as you're working the dough, simply refrigerate it for 15 minutes before continuing.
Biscuits require a light hand. Working your dough too much will develop the gluten in your dough which will result in dense biscuits.
Biscuits and scones are both quick breads. Scone recipes usually include eggs while biscuits do not.
No, biological leaveners such as sourdough starters require a combination of time and gluten development to make baked goods rise. As yeast ferments, it releases CO2 which gets trapped by strong gluten networks in the dough. Gluten development will negatively affect the texture of your biscuits.
Sourdough Discard Biscuits
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 12 Biscuits 1x
120 grams (½ cup) sourdough discard
180 grams (¾ cup) buttermilk (see note**)
226 grams (2 sticks) unsalted butter (cut into ½ inch pieces and chilled)
388 grams (3 ¼ cup) all-purpose flour
10 grams (2 ½ teaspoons) baking powder
2 grams (¼ teaspoon) baking soda
12 grams (2 teaspoons) granulated sugar
12 grams (2 teaspoons) salt
28 grams (2 tbsp) milk
Prep: Line an 18 by 13 inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
Make the dough: Stir your sourdough discard into the buttermilk until no traces of sourdough remain, set aside.
Incorporate pieces of chilled butter into the flour mixture using your finger tips or a pastry cutter. You should end up with flour coated butter pieces of varying sizes.
Create a well in the center of the flour mixture, incorporate the milk mixture until all of the flour is hydrated. Lightly knead the dough in the bowl until the dough clumps together and most of the flour is hydrated (a few dry bits are ok, don't overwork or your biscuits may turn out tough).
Laminate the dough: Turn dough out onto a clean surface and pat into a 1 inch-thick square (you don't have to be exact). Using a knife or bench scraper, cut dough into 4 pieces. Stack pieces on top of one another, sandwiching any loose dry bits of dough between layers, and press down to flatten.
Shape the dough: Lift up dough with bench scraper and dust surface with flour. Roll dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle and trim a thin border around sides of dough to create clean edges. Cut into a 4x3 grid to make 12 biscuits.
Chill the dough: Preheat your oven to 425 F. Transfer biscuits to a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing 2" apart; freeze while your oven preheats, about 20 minutes.
Bake: Brush tops of biscuits with a mixture of milk and egg. Reduce oven temperature to 400 F and bake biscuits until deep golden brown on bottom and golden on top, 20–25 minutes.
Make ahead instructions: Unbaked biscuits can be frozen up to 1 month. Freeze, uncovered, on baking sheet until solid, then transfer to a resealable plastic bag. Do not thaw before baking, but add a few minutes to the baking time.
Buttermilk substitutions: you really can't beat the texture that buttermilk imparts in these biscuits. However, if you don't have any on hand, feel free to sub whole milk mixed with 14 grams (1 tbsp) of vinegar or lemon juice, or sour cream or yogurt thinned out with a little bit of milk.
- Serving Size: 1 biscuit
- Calories: 299
- Sugar: 2.3 g
- Fat: 16.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 33.1 g
- Protein: 5.4 g