Cooking,  How-To Guides

How to Make Biscuits

Note (8.01.12): After hearing from several readers, I’ve adjusted the flour content of this biscuit recipe. If you’ve saved a copy before then, please replace it with this new one!

Earlier this month we began a how-to series starting with yogurt from scratch. Jessie, one of our Wisconsin readers commented that she’d love to see another post about biscuits–perfecting the process, the ingredients, and the texture without it coming from the refrigerator case at the supermarket.

Biscuits make me feel like a member of a secret domestic society–a member of Revolutionary War era homemakers who sent their men n’ boys out with a basket of perfectly baked biscuits, carefully wrapped for the day. Weird. I know. I just think biscuits are part of a by-gone time and are in need of a revival. Thanks Jessie for starting the trend.

Here’s what I love about biscuits:

  • Nearly all local ingredients–I know some recipes call for lard or shortening, but I stick with butter to keep them local. The recipe does have a tablespoon of sugar which you could substitute with honey or maple syrup, but the texture may not be the same. A tablespoon now and then is worth it.
  • I love the warm, flaky addition to a meal that doesn’t require all my time like yeast breads.  These biscuits are ready in under an hour start to finish and can easily be made at the same time you’re prepping the rest of dinner.
  • They’re best straight out of the oven, but are tough to beat when topped with peanut butter and jam, sandwiched around bacon, a poached egg and cheddar cheese (way better than the fast-food version!) or covered in creamed veggies. Delicious.
  • It may take a few tries to get the texture just the way you like, too much/not enough kneading will impact the gluten formation. It’s not so bad if the first batch is off because you have less time invested than a double-rise dinner roll or yeast bread.
  • Making biscuits makes you a member of the super hip and trendy “I make biscuits from scratch” club.


Homemade Biscuits

Adapted from Betty Crocker’s original Baking Powder Biscuits and graciously made by my mom

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 425°F and prepare a baking sheet. Start with 1/2 cup of salted butter in a large bowl. It’s best to have the butter cold, straight from the refrigerator.

2. Add 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, and 2 tablespoons of sugar to the bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut the flour and butter together until mixture is crumbly with pea-sized pieces. You can use two forks for this, but spending the cash for a pastry blender is really the way to go.

3. Sour 3/4 cup of milk or use 3/4 cup of buttermilk. To make sour milk, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 3/4 cup of milk.  Pour the milk into the flour mixture.

4. Stir the dough until it just leaves the sides of the bowl. If it seems dry, add milk 1 teaspoon at a time. If it seems to sticky, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of flour. Dough should look like this:

5. Lightly flour a hard surface and turn the dough out. Knead 10 times (no more…no less. This isn’t bread or pie crust people!) and with a rolling-pin or your hands, spread out until 1/2″ thick.

6. Using a biscuit cutter or the rim of a small drinking glass, cut the biscuits out of the dough. You can re-work the dough 1 or 2 times to cut as many as possible. This recipe should make 10-11 biscuits.

7. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until tops are golden brown and biscuits have a hollow sound when tapped.

8. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool on a wire baking rack. That is if you can resist eating them right away!


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