Why It Works
- Fully incorporating the butter and flour guarantees tender, airy biscuits every time.
- Low-protein flours keep biscuits fluffy and light, never tough.
- Yogurt provides both hydration and structure, for biscuits that bake up straight and tall but moist.
- Baking soda neutralizes some of the yogurt's acidity, helping the biscuits to brown.
- Patting the dough by hand keeps the biscuits light, as a rolling pin can easily crush the soft dough.
No buttermilk? No problem! These biscuits bake up tender, fluffy, and golden brown thanks to plain yogurt, which keeps them wonderfully thick and moist as well. They're primarily leavened with baking powder, with just enough baking soda to add a little omph to their browning and rise. It also ensures the yogurt's tangy flavor shines through, a perfect counterpoint to the biscuits' buttery richness.
- 9 ounces all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal (about 2 cups, spooned; 255g)
- 1/2 ounce sugar (about 1 tablespoon; 15g)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
- 4 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 8 tablespoons; 110g)
- 9 ounces plain yogurt, straight from the fridge (about 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons; 255g), see note
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 400°F. Should your kitchen be warmer than 75°F, please see our guide to baking in a hot kitchen before getting started; the specifics are focused on pie dough, but the overall principles are true of biscuits as well.
Sift flour into a medium bowl, then add sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk until well combined (this may take up to 1 minute). Add the butter, toss to break up the pieces, and smash each cube flat. Continue smashing and rubbing until the butter has mostly disappeared into a floury mix, although a few larger, Cheerio-sized pieces may remain. This can also be done with 4 or 5 pulses in a food processor, just take care not to overdo it. The prepared mix can be refrigerated up to 3 weeks in an airtight container, then used as directed below.
Add yogurt, and stir with a flexible spatula until the flour has been fully absorbed. The dough will seem rather crumbly and dry at first, but keep mixing until it finally comes together (don't worry about over-mixing; until the flour has been fully incorporated, the greater concern is under-mixing). Once the dough forms a rough ball, turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
With your bare hands, gently pat the dough into a squarish shape about 1/2 inch thick, then fold in half; repeat twice more for a total of 3 folds, using only enough flour to keep your hands from sticking. Finish by patting the dough to a thickness of 3/4 inch. If needed, dust away any excess flour, then cut into 1 3/4-inch rounds and arrange in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Gather scraps into a ball, pat and fold a single time, then cut as many more biscuits as you can. The final round of scraps can be gathered and shaped into a single biscuit by hand.
Bake until the biscuits are well-risen and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let the biscuits cool about 5 minutes to help set their crumb, then serve as desired, whether alongside soups and stews or split for shortcake or breakfast sandwiches. Leftovers can be stored up to a week in an airtight container; to serve, split the stale biscuits in half, brush with melted butter, arrange on a baking sheet, and broil until golden brown, then serve with jam.
1 3/4-inch round cutter (or similar), 10-inch cast iron skillet
This recipe works best with plain, unsweetened, unstrained yogurts that include nothing but cultured milk in the ingredients list. Strained yogurts like Greek yogurt, or those that include thickeners, gums, and stabilizers, can produce biscuits with a gummy texture.