Biscuits—the wonderfully soft and flaky quick breads we all know and love—have become an American staple. Biscuits act as an alternative to dinner rolls or cornbread, soaking up gravy when paired with meat or potatoes, but they work equally well as a breakfast treat, covered with a thick layer of jam.
There are a few coveted qualities of all biscuits. They must be soft and flaky, unbelievably tender, and they must rise to towering heights (if for no reason but to entice us in). If you follow the few tips below, your biscuits can come out perfect every single time.
Mile-High Biscuit Tips:
- Start with very cold butter or shortening. The cold ingredients, when incorporated into the flour, will give you flakier biscuits. We want flaky biscuits (FYI: this is also the trick for flaky pie crusts!).
- Mix the butter into the flour just until it resembles coarse sand. This can be accomplished using a stand mixer, food processor, pastry blender, or with your hands (but make sure your hands are cold so you don't warm the butter!).
- Add the liquid (again, make sure it is cold) and do not over-mix when incorporating it into the flour. Over-mixing will result in less tender biscuits. Why? Gluten forms when mixing dough, so the more you mix, the more gluten forms. When a lot of gluten forms, it results in a heavier, denser bread. This is the opposite of what we look for in a light, tall biscuit.
- Move dough to a lightly floured surface and flatten with it with your hands (as opposed to a rolling pin) to 1/2-inch to 1-inch thick. If you need to knead the dough a few times to get it to come together, it is okay to do so but don't knead more than 10-12 times. The less you handle the dough, the softer the final result will be.
- Cut out biscuits with a cutter lightly coated in flour. Do not twist cutter once you have pressed into the dough. Twisting will cause the sides of the dough to seal, meaning the dough will not rise as high as possible (or one side may seal and the other doesn't, resulting in a very crooked biscuit).
- Place biscuits close to one another on the baking sheet for biscuits with soft edges or place 1-inch apart for crusty edges (depending on your preference).
To reheat leftover biscuits, wrap biscuits individually in foil and bake at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 8-10 minutes. Alternatively, you can place biscuits in a microwave with a damp paper towel on high for 15-20 seconds, or until warm.
Can you guess what type of recipe is coming up next?