Light, tender and flakey biscuits are the result of a few simple techniques. For some experienced bakers a great biscuit is easy to achieve but for novice bakers it could become a challenge. It really doesn’t have to be difficult and as a matter of fact, when making homemade biscuits (a quick bread), one key element in the process is to simply not to do too much. That’s right; too much mixing and your biscuits may not be light enough. Too much kneading and they could become tough little hockey pucks. Not to worry; we have a step by step guide for the perfect biscuit. As far as which recipe to use, if you don’t have one in mind we do! Our favorites are Old Fashioned Biscuits (on the back of the Clabber Girl can for many years), Baking Powder Biscuits (a little more flavor and with more ingredients) and Old Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits (wonderful flavor, tender crumb).
To make your biscuits:
Assemble your ingredients: read your recipe, understand the directions and have all ingredients on hand right next to the mixing bowl. Make sure you start with fresh ingredients; check the shelf life. Remember, when measuring dry ingredients, especially baking powder, you should use only dry utensils when measuring and replace the lid immediately afterwards. Don’t sit the baking powder can next to the sink, or by moisture.
Mix dry ingredients thoroughly before cutting in shortening/fat/butter. This is to ensure that all ingredients are incorporated evenly. Remember that you shouldn’t do too much mixing after the wet ingredients are added. In order to ensure the baking powder is incorporated evenly, this is the time to mix well.
Cut in shortening – many bakers choose to refrigerate their fat prior to using in biscuits or pies. To cut the shortening or butter in, you can use two knives and cut crosswise to incorporate, others use a pastry blender (preferred) because it will do so more evenly in less time. The little pockets of shortening will melt in the oven, helping to make the biscuit tender.
Coarse crumbs are not all completely even, and depending on the amount of shortening/butter/fat you use, the result should be something like this, below:
Add liquid – mix just to incorporate. Remember not to mix too much, since over-mixing will break up the little shortening beads and cause the gluten in the flour to stretch, causing the biscuits to be less tender.
Knead the dough – at Clabber Girl we usually knead by folding over no more than four times. Place a cup or so of flour on the board, gently pat the dough on top and sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough with your fingers; fold over once, turn over and press down gently. Do this no more than four times so that you don’t over-handle the dough.
Pat out the dough for rolling. Dough should be rolled to about 1/2-inch in height.
Cut with a biscuit cutter – make cuts close together so that you don’t have to re-roll your dough very much. This hastens your prep time and also eliminates over-handling of the dough.
Place cut biscuits on prepared pan. Placing them close together helps each biscuit raise a teeny bit more, and also makes the sides a little softer.
Putting your biscuits farther apart on the baking pan helps make a crust on all sides. It’s all a matter of what you prefer.
Bake according to recipe directions. Sometimes you are asked to brush the tops with butter before baking, which helps the tops brown and adds a little more crispness as well as flavor.