Cranberry Orange Buttermilk Biscuits

I wanted a biscuit with fall flavors - something that would be complimentary to the Thanksgiving or Christmas table.

Now Let’s Get Cooking
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I made many batches of biscuits before landing on my recipe for buttermilk biscuits. I fed workmen who were working around my house, I fed the cable guy, I fed my neighbors, but finally decided that the end recipe was tender enough, moist enough and tasty enough and I was very happy.

Cranberry Orange Pecan Buttermilk Biscuits on a piece of parchment paper with oranges and cranberries around.

There were three keys that led me to my final recipe. The first was that you really need to use self-rising flour. It is made from a soft wheat and produces a really tender biscuit. If you can’t find self-rising flour (or if it’s late and you just need biscuits but don’t have any self-rising flour at home), you can make your own self-rising flour by combining 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1½ teaspoons of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Make three cups of this substitute and then measure out the 2⅓ cups needed for this recipe. 

A parchment lined square baking pan with cranberry orange pecan buttermilk biscuits inside.

The second key was the trick of grating the butter into the flour mixture. The goal is to cut the butter into the flour without leaving the pieces too big, nor too small. Grating the slightly frozen butter created pieces of butter that were all the same size and were easy to incorporate. Use the butter wrapper to hold onto the butter (which will start to melt as soon as you hold it) and be careful when you get to the end of the stick.

Finally, I used a technique borrowed from Shirley Corriher, a personal culinary hero of mine who wrote the book Cookwise (which is very worthwhile reading). Shirley keeps her biscuits moist with a very wet batter because it makes sense – if you want something to remain moist, you have to start with it moist. Right? With a moist batter, you can’t roll and cut out the biscuits so instead, she tosses the biscuits back and forth in her floured hands and just pops them into the cake pan. I find it easier than rolling and cutting, frankly, and there’s no waste at all.

A stack of cranberry orange pecan buttermilk biscuits with one broken open and buttered in front.

With those three keys, this buttermilk biscuit recipe was born. Then came time to add ingredients and have some fun with it.  With cranberries on my mind, I thought about one of my favorite crostini toppings for holiday entertaining – a simple cranberry orange crostini. So, this recipe for Cranberry, Orange and  Pecan Buttermilk Biscuits simply folds in  those flavors of cranberries and orange, along with a few pecans for good measure. You can use a food processor or mini chopper for the cranberries and the pecans if you like, but you don’t have to. The biscuit recipe has enough sugar in it (which is quite controversial to folks, it seems!) to sweeten the cranberries just enough, making this a biscuit that can be a savory accompaniment, but is sweet enough to have with tea in the afternoon and feel like a treat. 

Close up of a cranberry orange pecan buttermilk biscuit with a few cranberries and an orange slice.

I present to you… the Cranberry, Orange and Pecan Buttermilk Biscuit!

Cranberry Orange Buttermilk Biscuits

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 30 m
  • Total Time: 50 m
  • Servings:
    9
    large or 16 regular biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2⅓ cups self-rising flour
  • 8 teaspoons 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter 1 stick, frozen for 10 minutes
  • ½ cup fresh cranberries
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • cup chopped pecans
  • 1⅓ cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour for shaping

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a shelf slightly below the center of the oven. Line a buttered 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
  2. Place the cranberries in a food processor and pulse until they are evenly chopped.
  3. Combine the self-rising flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Grate the butter into the flour and stir it in to coat evenly. Stir in the chopped cranberries, zest of 1 orange and pecans. Gently stir in the buttermilk. The dough should be quite wet.
  4. Spread the all-purpose (not self-rising) flour out on a small cookie sheet. With a spoon, scoop evenly sized balls of dough into the flour, making sure they don’t touch each other. With floured hands, coat each dough ball with flour and toss them gently from hand to hand to shake off any excess flour. Place each floured dough ball into the prepared pan, right up next to the other. This will help the biscuits rise up, rather than spreading out. You might need to do the above in batches.
  5. Place the cake pan on the arranged shelf in the oven. Bake until lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Brush the tops of the biscuits with some melted butter and pop them back into the oven for another 5 minutes or so, until nicely browned. Turn the biscuits out onto a plate, and then invert them again so they are right side up. Pull or cut the biscuits apart and serve immediately with some butter and perhaps some honey too if you like.
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