I hail from a Southerly state, where the flakiness, lightness, and loft of your homemade biscuits are a matter of pride. And bragging rights. But even though I’m a baker, it has taken me years to feel like I’ve mastered these simple little quick breads that aren’t so simple. With very few ingredients, very little time, and a few tips and tricks, you can make towering biscuits that you might swoon over.

    Here’s what I’ve found to be the keys to success:

  • Make sure your oven is preheated, and bake at a high temperature in the upper half of your oven.
  • Use very cold butter and cold milk (or buttermilk).
  • Use a food processor; it makes faster work and keeps your warm hands off the dough.
  • Cut the butter into the flour mixture just until it looks like big coarse breadcrumbs or small peas. Do not overprocess it.
  • Pour the milk in all at once, pulse a few times, and get the dough out of there.
  • Don’t knead the dough (or you will create gluten and therefore tough biscuits) but do press it together, and fold it over at least 4 or 5 times.
  • Don’t use a rolling pin, just use your hands to press out the dough on a floured surface.
  • Use an actual biscuit cutter, they have sharper edges. Press down but don’t twist.
  • Biscuits are best served warm, right out of the oven. (But you can reheat them for a few days after, they just won’t be quite as good.)

If you want to turn these into buttermilk biscuits, just swap out the milk for buttermilk and add 1/2 tsp baking soda along with the baking powder.

 Baking powder biscuits
Baking powder biscuits (Wendy Goodfriend)

Recipe: Baking powder biscuits

Makes 7 to 8 biscuits


  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup whole milk

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  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, process together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Scatter the butter over the flour mixture and pulse a few times until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the milk and mix just until combined. The dough should be very wet.
  3. Scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface. Gently pat out the dough to about 1/2-inch thick. Fold the dough about 5 times, then gently press the dough into a 1 inch thick disk. Use a 2 1/2- to 3-inch round biscuit cutter to cut into rounds. Gently knead the scraps together and cut as many as you can.
  4. Put the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet. Lightly brush the tops of the biscuits with milk to help them brown. Bake until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Serve right away.
Perfect for Easter Brunch: Lofty Baking Powder Biscuits 5 April,2015Kim Laidlaw

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Kim Laidlaw

Kim Laidlaw is a cookbook author, editor, food writer, producer, project manager, and baker who has been in the kitchen covered in flour since she was big enough to stir the biscuit dough. She has over 16 years of experience in book and online publishing, and a lifetime of experience in the kitchen.

Her first cookbook, Home Baked Comfort, was published in 2011; her second cookbook, Baby & Toddler On the Go, was published in April 2013; and her third cookbook, Williams-Sonoma Dessert of the Day, was published in October 2013.

She was the first blogger on KQED’s Bay Area Bites blog, which launched in 2005, and previously worked as a professional baker at La Farine French Bakery in Oakland, CA. She lives in Petaluma with her husband and their child, whom she cooks for everyday. Find out more at http://www.kimlaidlaw.com.


Wendy Goodfriend

I am the Senior Interactive Producer for KQED Food. I have designed and produced food-related websites and blogs for KQED including Bay Area Bites; Check, Please! Bay Area;  Taste This; Jacques Pepin’s websites; Weir Cooking in the City and KQED Food. When I am not creating and managing food websites I am taking photos and video of Bay Area Life and designing online navigation systems. My professional education and training includes: clinical psychology, photography, commercial cooking, web design, information architecture and UX. You can find me engaged in social media on Twitter @bayareabites and on Facebook at Bay Area Bites. I can also be found photoblogging at look2remember.

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