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.
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
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.