Biscuits? Muffins? What should I call these mini-soda breads? Biscuits (American not English) typically aren’t sweet, muffins typically are. These are as sweet as you want them to be, they look like biscuits, you can eat them like biscuits, but you make them in a muffin tin.
I’ve been struggling with this question for days. It’s been a good excuse to continue taste testing my way through the FIVE DOZEN I’ve made in order to perfect the recipe.
What I can tell you is that they are very good, and that the recipe is wonderfully flexible.
If you want them to be more like traditional soda bread (more biscuit tasting) you can leave out the sugar all together. If you want them to taste more sweet like muffins, you can increase the sugar. If you are going to eat them immediately, or trying to cut down on fat, you can reduce the butter. I made a version with raisins, a version with raisins and caraway seeds together, and even a version with just a teaspoon of orange zest as an add-in. They were all great. I was especially surprised at how good the caraway seeds and the raisins were together, in this slightly sweet biscuit/muffin. Obviously I preferred the full sugar, full butter version, but the lower sugar/lower butter version was good too (I just added more butter and jam to those).
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of sugar (depending on how sweet you want them)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds*
- 1/2 to 1 cup of raisins*
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk**
*These add-ins are entirely optional. You could just do plain biscuits, or add in a teaspoon of orange zest, lemon zest, or a couple tablespoons of chopped candied ginger, or a teaspoon of minced rosemary. Have fun with it!
**You can substitute the 1 1/4 cups buttermilk with 1 cup 3 Tbsp of regular whole milk mixed with 1 Tbsp of white vinegar.
1 Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter a standard muffin pan.
2 In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
3 Cut the butter into tablespoon sized pieces into the bowl of flour. Using your (clean) fingers, work the butter into the flour, schmooshing (is that a technical term?) the butter between your fingers and mixing with the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. If you are using raisins, caraway seeds, or any other add-ins, mix them into the mixture now.
4 Make a well in the center of the flour. Pour the buttermilk into the center of the well. Use a wooden spoon to gently mix the flour into the buttermilk until the flour is moistened with the buttermilk. Then use your hands to form the mixture into a loose, shaggy, slightly sticky ball of dough. The dough should be a little sticky, if it's too dry, add a tablespoon more of buttermilk. If it's just too wet to handle, add a sprinkling more of flour. Do not over-mix! And at this point work quickly. As soon as the acidic buttermilk interacts with the alkaline baking soda, bubbles will form and leavening will start.
5 Break off 12-equal portions of the dough and place them in the wells of the muffin tin. Put in the oven and bake for 12-13 minutes, until the tops are nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for a couple minutes in the pan. Remove the biscuits from the muffin tin to a rack to cool for a few minutes more.
Serve with butter and jam.