Whole grain buttermilk biscuits are a rare treat in our home. We begin most mornings with a breakfast of pastured eggs and wilted greens or homemade yogurt and soaked oatmeal porridge. Occasionally, just occasionally, I find the time to prepare whole grain buttermilk biscuits as a special treat. I dust the flour off Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking, a cookbook worn by six decades of use in various kitchens, and turn to page 236 which details a classic recipe for whole grain buttermilk biscuits that I’ve subsequently adapted for use in our kitchen.
Given’s original version of buttermilk biscuits calls for all-purpose flour which has no place in our kitchen as we’ve grown to prefer the rustic texture and fuller flavor of sprouted grain flour. Yet, these buttermilk biscuits, despite the inclusion of whole grain or sprouted flour, are as tender and pleasantly flavored as the original, but richer in micronutrients. Consider this improved vitamin and mineral profile a sort of gift of the whole grain that would otherwise be stripped and absent from its refined counterpart. The generous use of freshly cultured buttermilk (see sources) and freshly rendered lard or butter makes for a soft, tender and flaky crumb.
Good homemade bread is easy to eat, and who isn’t thrilled to see puffy, crusty, golden-brown biscuits, muffins, rolls and loaves come out of the oven? That’s why women in the cities as well as in the country will go on serving homemade breads. Meta Given, 1948.
When I begin mixing the buttermilk and flour for fresh biscuits, my son’s eyes widen in anticipation. He knows that a real treat awaits him. He sets the table, taking care to place fresh butter in the center of the table and our raw, wildflower honey – an even greater treat in our home – just a touch closer to his plate. From time to time, we’ll serve these biscuits in the southern tradition with pasture-raised pork sausage seasoned heavily with sage as well as a heavily peppered cream gravy.
This recipe for whole grain buttermilk biscuits calls for a simple soak. Soaking flour and grain in a slightly acidic solution – such as buttermilk – helps to mitigate the effects of phytic acid. Phytic acid is an antinutrient naturally found in whole grain that binds minerals in your intestinal tract, preventing your body from fully absorbing them. By soaking flour in buttermilk, you can help to release neutralize the effects of phytic acid. The end result of this simple and traditional process is that your breads are more tender, easier to digest and more nutrient-dense. If using freshly ground flour, you’ll only need to soak the flour in buttermilk for a few hours as freshly ground flour is rich in food enzymes.
- 2½ cups whole grain flour
- ½ cup cold butter or pastured lard
- 1 cup freshly cultured buttermilk
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp unrefined sea salt
- Sift the whole grain flour before combining it with cold butter or pastured lard in the basin of a mixer.
- Mix the fat and flour together until it resembles the texture of cornmeal, then stir in the freshly cultured buttermilk and combine together until the flour, fat and buttermilk form a thick dough.
- Allow this dough to sit, covered, in a warm spot in your kitchen for at least two hours (if using freshly ground or sprouted grain flour) or overnight if using store-bought flour.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Once the oven is preheated, knead baking soda and unrefined sea salt into the dough.
- Flour your hands and gently form the biscuits either by rolling them out and cutting them out with a biscuit cutter or roll dr op them, as I prefer to do, straight from the mixing bowl onto a baking sheet or preheated baking stone.
- Bake the biscuits at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about ten to fifteen minutes, or until they puff up and become a golden brown color.