Sourdough Biscuits

I want to start off 2018 by giving back to the world, sharing something that brings me joy in its making and brings smiles to the faces of those who eat it. I’m sharing with you my recipe for sourdough biscuits and tips on how to make them like I do.

Sourdough biscuits are my favorite item to bake. I came across this recipe while living in Wyoming in 2006. Reading Western Horseman back issues was my clear-my-head nightly ritual after long days of work and school. I decided to experiment with sourdough after I read many articles about chuckwagon cooking, the role of food in the history of the American West and a vanishing way of life. It seemed like a way to connect to the pioneers who settled the area I was living in, and to connect to a fading art.

I started with the original recipe and played around with liquid oil in place of butter, flour ratios and dough thicknesses. Both the original recipe I found and my revisions are below so you can try them out for yourself. I adapted the original recipe to be lactose-free, vegan or “normal” while working with people from different backgrounds, dietary restrictions and personal choices.

I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I do!

Sourdough biscuits – original recipe

2 cups white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup starter
1/2 cup buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients in bowl. Cut in butter. Add starter and buttermilk to make a soft dough. Roll out to 1/2 inch. Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes or golden brown on top.

Greg’s sourdough biscuits

4 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cups vegetable oil
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup sour milk*

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix dry ingredients into a non-metallic bowl. Add in oil, milk and starter one at a time, mixing as you go. This helps to thoroughly combine the liquid and dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. The dough will be slightly sticky, so lightly flour a working surface and pour the dough onto it. Gently press down or roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out biscuits with a biscuit cutter (slightly oiled white wine glasses work well for size) or roll by hand to approximately golf ball sized. Place biscuits on a greased or parchment paper-lined baking pan or lightly oiled cast iron skillet so they are touching each other. Bake for 12 minutes (or until golden brown on top). Remove from oven and allow to cool in a safe place.

It’s important to wait for a few minutes for the biscuits to cool, as they’ll often fall apart if you try to eat them immediately. You’ll probably also burn your mouth (speaking from personal experience). I recommend putting them somewhere safe to cool: the dog of a woman I was once dating leapt onto the counter and ate a full batch of freshly-baked biscuits I’d made her while she showered.


Some tips for the recipe:

To make your own buttermilk: Measure one tablespoon of vinegar and pour into a one cup measure. Fill the remainder of the one cup measure with your choice of milk. Pour the resulting mixture into the batter. This works for skim, 1% and 2% milk, almond milk, coconut milk and soymilk. I’ve not tried it with whole milk though I don’t see why it wouldn’t…

To make larger biscuits (hamburger buns): form the biscuits using a drinking glass, Nalgene bottle mouth or the lid to a mason jar. I have made sourdough buns for burgers by increasing the diameter of the biscuits up to 4 inches to hold a patty. Sometimes I’ve formed them by hand, sometimes using a mason jar. They’re wonderfully chewy and crisp: just what I like!

To change density and flavor: sourdough biscuit density changes with the type and ratio of flours used. Baking the sourdough biscuits recipe with solely white flour means biscuits that rise much more than my version. White flour sourdough biscuits are light and flaky, the version you may be recalling as you read this recipe. I’ve found that making the recipe with 50% white flour and 50% whole wheat flour is a nice compromise between biscuit rise and biscuit flavor. I’ve tried 3 cups whole wheat flour with one cup of white flour  and had good results.

My preference is to 100% whole wheat flour: I like the flavor and texture. 100% whole wheat is not as light and fluffy as white flour biscuits are, but a denser biscuit that can take a few minutes longer to become golden brown due to day-to-day variations in your oven, ambient temperature and humidity, the baking characteristics of the flour and the consistency of the dough.

There are numerous possibilities for variations with flour. Some ideas I have yet to try include using a 75:25 ratio of white to rye flour, using spelt flour in place of whole wheat, or using gluten-free mixtures to replace the flour. Please comment below on what you’ve tried and how the bread turned out.

sourdough starter ready to useThe starter ready for use

dry ingredients for sourdough biscuitsDry ingredients combined in the mixing bowl

wet ingredients for sourdough biscuitsAdding sour milk and oil

sourdough biscuit doughThe dough mixed and ready to be flattened

sourdough ready to cut or form into biscuitsForming the dough to 1/2″ thick for cutting or shaping into biscuits

sourdough biscuits ready to bakeBiscuits cut and ready to bake. Note the can for scale.

Sourdough biscuits ready to eat

Biscuits are done and ready to eat!

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