Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Jun 12, 2013 09:34 AM

Help with cream biscuits.

I never have cream on hand, but I always have buttermilk. Is it possible to substitute buttermilk for the cream in cream biscuits? If so, how would I go about doing that? I want to try this recipe sooooo bad because biscuits are usually my kryptonite, but I'd really prefer to avoid having to go all the way to the store just to buy something I almost never use. In case you're not familiar, cream biscuits are just cream, flour, salt, and baking powder, no cutting in butter necessary.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The cream is replacing fat (butter or shortening) in the biscuits. Buttermilk probably doesn't have enough fat to do that. Undiluted evaporated milk may work better as a cream substitute.

    The very best biscuits I have ever tasted are Shirley Corriher's Touch-of-Grace Biscuits. She often appeared on Alton Browns "Good Eats" show as the food scientist.

    Shirley Corriher Making her Biscuits on YouTube.

    I adapted her recipe using cake flour mixed with all-purpose flour to replace the soft Southern flour in the White Lily.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Antilope

      Traditional buttermilk is cream with the butter removed. Cultured buttermilk is usually made from nonfat or low fat milk.

      Traditional Irish soda bread uses flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk. So yes, it is possible to make a quick bread with just buttermilk and no added fat. But the difference between eating it warm and fresh v a day later is greater.

      1. re: paulj

        People sometimes think of cream, buttermilk and evaporated milk are interchangeable because of a similar thick consistency. But that thickness has very different sources in all 3 - high fat, denatured proteins (due to acid), and reduced water content.

    2. Easy Stir and Roll Biscuits

      These are the easiest biscuits ever. Just stir with a fork, form and bake. No mixer required. Just a bowl and a fork. I don't like messing with solid shortening so these are my go to biscuits, they use vegetable oil. Canola, peanut, corn oil, etc. Any mild tasting oil. I have never tried olive oil, but if you like the taste that would work fine too.

      3 cups all-purpose flour
      4 1/2 tsp baking powder
      2 tsp white granulated sugar
      1 1/2 tsp table salt
      1 cup milk (or substitute buttermilk plus 1/4 tsp baking soda)
      1/2 cup vegetable oil

      Preheat oven to 400-degrees F

      Pour dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir and mix well with a fork.

      Pour milk and oil into a measuring cup together, but don't stir.

      Pour liquid from cup into dry ingredients and stir with a fork until all ingredients are moistened and dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

      Knead dough in bowl 10 or 12 times.

      Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop out portions of biscuit dough. Scoop out 12 portions.

      Roll each into a ball and flatten slightly. Place on baking sheet, grouped together with sides of biscuits touching.

      Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until tops are golden brown and centers are not doughy.

      Makes 12 biscuits.

      Source: Betty Crocker & Wesson Oil circa 1950

      1 Reply
      1. re: Antilope

        Wow, thanks. Thought I had tried 101 biscuit recipes, but never one with oil. I'll give these a try this weekend.

      2. Sure it's possible. Try them and see how they are. I will guess not very good without the fat from another source but it will cost about $2 or less to try.

        1. Two-Ingredient Southern Cream Biscuits (Paraphrased)

          from Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart and their book, "Southern Biscuits".

          2 cups White Lily Self-Rising Flour (or other Self-Rising Flour that uses soft Southern wheat)
          1 cup whipping cream

          Mix until just moistened, don't over mix.

          Turn onto counter and pat into a 1/2 inch high rectangle. Fold dough in half, on top of itself and pat again into a 1/2 inch high rectangle.

          Cut out with 2 1/4 inch biscuit cutter. Stack scraps and press into another 1/2 inch high rectangle. Cut out until dough is gone.

          Bake for about 12-minutes at a 475° oven: bake for 6 minutes, rotate the pan, then check back after an additional 4 minutes or so to check if they're golden brown on top. Brush with melted butter and serve warm.


          To make self-rising flour, add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp table salt to each cup of flour.

          To make a lighter flour (similar to White Lily), mix half cake flour with half all-purpose flour.

          Another substitute for soft Southern flour, not quite as tender, for each cup of regular all-purpose flour, replace 2 Tablespoons of flour with cornstarch.
          (1 cup lightened all-purpose flour = 14 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp cornstarch.)

          10 Replies
          1. re: Antilope

            Good old Nathalie! I found my cream-biscuit recipe in the last Gourmet Cookbook, the yellow-cover one edited by Ruth Reichl, and that one says NOT to use self-rising flour. I steadfastly ignored that advice and did exactly what Ms. Dupree gives us here, except for the addition of a little sugar - they were for strawberry shortcakes - and they were sinfully wonderful.

            As for the OP's question, cutting in some butter or shortening of an amount gotten from a regular Southern biscuit recipe adds just that one extra ingredient, and that's basically how we do buttermilk biscuits anyway. But you NEED that fat!

            1. re: Antilope

              That is my go to biscuit recipe. I always have cream and 1/2&1/2 on hand.

              Unlike Nathalie's recipe, I make these in my food processor. Dump in the White Lily Self Rising flour and the cream and just pulse 4-5 times. It will be a bit shaggy, but dump it out on a floured board, gently pat it into a 1/2" thick round. Cut out the biscuits, place them a baking pan, brush the tops with melted butter and bake. No fail and perfect every time.

              1. re: Candy

                Processor would probably do a better job than my fork did, so thanks for the tip. As for cutting them, since I was making shortcakes I used a coffee can with both ends cut out, so they'd fit nicely in some small salad plates we have. And it's still berry season … !

              2. re: Antilope

                I just made these cream biscuits using Walmart self-rising and a box of shelf stable cream from Trader Joes. I had to add a splash of liquid beyond the cup. I was happy with the result, especially making little smoke turkey sandwiches.

                Previously when I'd used WL self-rising I thought biscuits were too salty, but these were fine.

                1. re: paulj

                  Various biscuit recipes state that harder flours will take more liquid than soft Southern wheat flours.

                  Too much salt is one of the reasons I don't like self rising flour. I would rather add the salt myself.

                  1. re: Antilope

                    Variability in how I measured the flour could just as well account for the small amount of extra liquid that I had to add. That and my own feel for how the dough was coming together.

                    I figured that the Walmart self-rising would be softer than my usual white flour. Walmart has its roots in Arkansas, and self-rising flour is used more in the South than in my area (Seattle). The nutritional label supports that, 4g protein/30g flour for my regular white, 3g/30g for this self-rising (though with rounding this is a crude measure).

                    1. re: paulj

                      I heard Shirley Corriher say some years ago that self-rising flour of any brand is made with softer wheat than the same label's AP flour.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        from the book "Cookwise" by Shirley O. Corriher (it didn't list Southern self rising)

                        Bleached southern all-purpose (White Lily, Martha White, Gladiola, Red Band):
                        7.5 to 9.5% protein
                        National brand self-rising (Gold Medal, Pillsbury):
                        9 to 10% protein

                        National brand bleached all-purpose (Gold Medal, Pillsbury):
                        10 to 12% protein

                        1. re: Antilope

                          King Arthur self rising flour has recently arrived at our local grocery store. I like their other flours a great deal so I plan to give it a try.

                          1. re: kengk

                            I did a lot of Googling and put this list together:

                            Types of Flour and Best Uses:

                            Cake Flour 5 to 8% protein - cakes

                            Pastry Flour 8 to 9% protein - pie crusts, pastries, cookies, biscuits

                            Self-Rising Flour 9 to 11% protein - biscuits, quick breads, cookies

                            All-Purpose Flour 9 to 12% protein - everyday cooking, quick breads, pastries

                            Bread Flour Flour 12 to 13% protein - traditional breads, bread machine, pizza crusts

                            Whole Wheat Flour 14% protein - hearth breads, blending with other flours

                            High-Gluten Flour 14 to 15% protein - bagels, pizza crusts, blending with other flours

                            Protein indicates the amount of gluten available in the flour. Gluten is the substance that develops when the protein, which occurs naturally in wheat flour, is combined with liquid. Because gluten is able to stretch elastically, it is desirable to have a higher gluten flour for yeast-raised products, which have doughs that are stretched extensively; like pizza, most breads, and bagels. For piecrusts, cookies, and pastry to be short and crumbly, a lower protein flour is better. Protein levels range from 7% in pastry and cake flours to as high as 15% in high-gluten bread flour.


                            Protein in flour types and brands:

                            CAKE FLOUR - about 7% protein
                            -King Arthur Cake Flour, 7.0%
                            -Softasilk Cake Flour, 7%
                            -Swans Down Cake Flour, 7%
                            ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, SOUTHERN, BLEACHED - 8 to 9% protein
                            -Martha White All-Purpose Flour, 9%
                            -Red Band All-Purpose Flour - Out of Business
                            -White Lily All-Purpose Flour, 8 to 9%
                            SELF-RISING FLOUR - 8 to 10.5% protein
                            -Gold Medal Self-Rising Flour, 10.5%
                            -King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour, 8.5%
                            -Martha White Self-Rising Flour, 9%
                            -Pillsbury Best Self-Rising Flour, 10%
                            -Presto Self Rising Cake Flour, 7.4%
                            -White Lily Self-Rising Flour, 8 to 9%

                            INSTANT FLOUR 10.5 to 12.5% protein
                            -Pillsbury Shake & Blend Flour, 12.5%
                            -Gold Medal Wondra Flour, 10.5%
                            ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, BLEACHED & UNBLEACHED, NATIONAL BRANDS - 10.5 to 11.5% protein
                            -Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour, 10.5%
                            -Pillsbury Best All-Purpose Flour, 10 to 11.5%
                            ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, NORTHERN, BLEACHED & UNBLEACHED - 11.5 to 12% protein
                            -Heckers and Ceresota All-Purpose Flour, 11.5 to 11.9 %
                            -King Arthur All-Purpose Flour, 11.7%
                            -Robin Hood All-Purpose Flour, 12.0%
                            BREAD FLOUR - 12 to 13% protein
                            -Gold Medal Better For Bread, 12%
                            -King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour, 12.7%
                            -Pillsbury Best Bread Flour, 12%
                            -White Lily Bread Flour, 13%
                            WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR - 14% protein
                            -King Arthur 100% Whole Wheat Flour, 14%
                            -King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour, 14%
                            GLUTEN FLOUR, Bread-making Supplement - 65 to 77% protein
                            -Arrowhead Mills Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 65.0%
                            -Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 75.0%
                            -Gillco Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 75.0%
                            -Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 66.6%
                            -King Arthur Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 77.8%

              3. @Antilope. Hmmmm, I think I'm going to try the Easy Stir and Roll biscuits with olive oil and some herbs. Thank you guys! And I think I'm going to try subbing the buttermilk , b/c you're right, it's a cheap experiment lol

                3 Replies
                1. re: kerrough

                  I forgot to add that you can also roll out and cut the stir and roll biscuits with a biscuit cutter.

                  1. re: kerrough

                    I've made them with whole milk buttermilk before and it was fine. Don't overthink it.

                    1. re: Leepa

                      If you want them for a savory use, you can squish in a little cold bacon fat. It's great in biscuits (I've never subbed all the fat with bacon fat, but usually up to 1/2).