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post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hello! Does anyone have an easy biscuit recipe? I'm tired of using the ones from the can!

Luella :crazy:
post #2 of 8
See my post in your Chicken & Dumplings thread for the dumpling recipe. Then follow the instructions below.

Heat your oven to 450.

Make the dumpling dough.

Work it a bit more to develop the gluten a bit. Only experience will teach you the right point to work it. The dough will be sticky and a bit loose. At this point, there are two options.

1) knead it 10 or so strokes with some flour. Then pat out flat until it's about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick and cut with a round cutter of some sort. Cut straight down and don't twist for the best rise. Place on a baking sheet, with the sides touching (they rise higher when they touch each other).


2) With well floured hands, pull off a lump of dough a bit bigger than a golf ball. Roll it between your hands just until it starts to stick a bit, then flatten it and put it on the baking sheet. This is quicker and easier than #1, but doesn't rise as well. Straight cut dough rises better. Place on a baking sheet, with the sides touching (they rise higher when they touch each other).

Repeat your choice of step 1 or 2 until the dough is gone.

Bake in the center of your oven for about 15 minutes until browned.

Every oven is different--many recipes say to cook on the top rack, but I get better results in the middle of my oven. Experiment a bit to see what works best for your oven.

One last thing. Olive Oil biscuits are very easy to make but don't have as nice a crumb or as much flakiness as a biscuit make with lard, shortening or butter which are harder to make. They'll still beat the biscuits from a tube.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 8
When you compare this recipe to Phil's you'll see that I use a lot more shortening (lard), proportionally than he does. My recipe is my own perfected recipe, and not copied from another source. But my shortening proportion is on the highish hand of average, while Phil's is very low indeed. Furthermore, olive oil is a very uncommon shortening choice, in the U.S. at least. This is in no way a criticism of Phil's recipe -- just a distinction. I look forward to trying it.

Nearly all biscuits are easy to make. The trick is developing the right, light touch with the dough and the sense to know when there's enough liquid.

Here's a buttermilk biscuit recipe -- very traditional, very easy. The hardest part is the shopping. You'll need buttermilk and lard. But if you like, you can use regular milk and vegetable shortening or butter. But buttermilk will give you the best rise and taste; and lard will give you the best texture ... and taste.

If you choose to use butter or vegetable shortening, you'll want to slightly less than you would lard. If you choose to use milk instead of buttermilk, you'll also use slightly less.


3 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 tbs baking powder
1 pinch to 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt
3/4 cup lard, cold if possible (or 1/2 cup butter or Crisco)
1 to 1-1/2 cup cold buttermilk (or 3/4 to 1-1/4 regular milk)
(Option 1: 1 tbs sugar)
(Option 2: 1 or 2 finely chopped green onions aka scallions aka spring onions; and 1/3 - 1/2 cup grated cheddar or pepper-jack cheese)
(Option 3: 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary, 1/4 tsp dried thyme, 1/4 tsp rubbed sage)


Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar (if using) into a bowl. Mix with a fork. Add the lard and cut in with a pastry cutter, until lard pieces are very small and well coated. The flour will resemble corn meal.

Add the spring onions and grated cheese if using. Or, the rosemary, sage and thyme if using. Mix in with fork.

Add the first cup of buttermilk and mix dough quickly and gently. If there's not enough liquid for to incorporate all the flour and bring dough together, add another 1/4 cup, then the last 1/4 cup if necessary. (I usually use around 1-1/3 to 1-1/2 cup; it's humidity dependent.)

The dough will feel damp, sticky, soft and light -- all at the same time. If you have the time, wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 1/2 an hour to allow the glutens to relax before rolling out.

Preheat oven to 425F

Prepare board with a generous amount of "bench flour." Flour your rolling pin as well if you use one. Unwrap dough and place on flour. Generously sprinkle top with more flour. Knead very gently a few times, adding a little more flour if necessary, so dough no longer feels sticky. Stop kneading when dough starts to firm up -- even a little.

Note: It helps to use a straight pin, rather than a tapered or a roller (pin with handles and ball bearings), because it's easier to control touch and thickness.

Make sure board and top of dough have flour on them, and roll gently or pat dough out very to 1/2" thick.

You can cut biscuits with a floured cutter or a floured knife. All edges must be cut, or biscuits will not rise evenly. That means, if you're using a knife, you have to trim the outside edges first. (I usually use a 12" chef's knife to cut diamond shapes, but sometimes I use a glass, or sometimes a biscuit cutter.)

Place on a clean, ungreased baking sheet -- ideally with the edges touching (for better rise). Brush the tops lightly with buttermilk (or milk, or melted butter). Place the sheet on your oven's middle or upper rack and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until tops are brown.

post #4 of 8
You can't use too much liquid fat for biscuits as it's too just too runny that way. BUt if you use a flavorful oil in moderate amounts, it's still good and has no saturated fat. Until you butter it at the table!:)

Lard mostly remains solid in the dough and creates that nice flake. And you can load it up in the dough as BLD does.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #5 of 8
On the bookshelf I have a copy of "Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook" which is probably at least 25 years old, so the 'new' part is a bit of a misnomer. But their recipe for 'Biscuits Supreme' is still the one I use as a base for all my biscuit experiments. Very simple, very basic, quite tasty. I should probably avoid any copyright issues and not post it here, drat. But I bet a web search might turn up something....

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #6 of 8
Even though traditional biscuit recipes are made with buttermilk and lard, I've found using cream as the liquid makes the flakiest, richest tasting biscuits. The dough is a little more difficult to handle when using cream, but not too bad. I'd suggest making biscuits with cream at least once. They're great. I have sometimes used part cream and part milk with good success. Another liquid that can be used is canned evaporated milk, undiluted. My grandmother made the most wonderful homemade sausage and biscuits for breakfast. Having lived through the depression, she knew how to make biscuits with the ingredients she had on hand. Most often that was with lard and canned evaporated milk. My FIL is a baker. When visiting a few years back, he threw together a batch of biscuits. They were the lightest, most tender biscuits I've ever tasted. It wasn't so much the ingredients as his practiced baker's touch. I've never been able to duplicate his biscuits, even though I have his recipe. Here it is: Baking Powder Biscuits 3 cups flour ½ cup shortening 1 Tbsp. baking powder ½ tsp. soda 1 ½ tsp. sugar ½ cup milk powder 1 cup water (approx)
post #7 of 8
Linda's post is a good one.

The rise in biscuits comes, one way or another, from gas in the dough. The reason buttermilk is "traditional" with biscuits is that baking powder is a relatively recent invention. In the days before BP, biscuit makers used baking soda as the leavening agent (ever heard of soda biscuits?); and an acidic liquid was required to make it produce carbon dioxide.

The carbon dioxide lightens the dough by riddling it with bubbles. Even after the gas dissipates and is replaced by air the dough remains light as long as the dough has its bubble structure. When the dough is baked, the air in the bubbles expands and makes the biscuits rise.

Baking powder uses soda itself or something like soda plus a dry acid as one of its two (single acting) or three (double acting) active ingredients. That means that "non-traditional" liquids like regular milk, cream or condensed milk get (almost) as much rise, and allows the baker to play with different flavor profiles not to mention a range of milk solids to butter fat ratios.

It's interesting that Linda pointed to cream as one of her favorites and powdered milk (which is non-fat) as the other.

Single acting BPs get all their rise as soon as they get wet. That means, that just like soda biscuits, bakers have to be very careful to protect the bubble structure by getting it in the oven fast -- before it has a chance to fall; and by not over-handling the dough and pushing those bubbles out.

Double acting BPs do that, plus they have another leavening agent that doesn't go to work until it;s heated. So, with double acting BP some of the gas production comes in the oven. That gives the baker a little leeway with time and handling -- but not much.

So how do you make BP work its best? First, you use the right amount. If you look at the biscuit recipes in this thread, or on this site, or read A LOT of cookbooks, or survey the web, you'll see that the ratios of necessary ingredients in most yeastless recipes are almost always the same. For each cup of flour: Slightly 1/3 to 1/2 cup of dairy; 1-1/2 tbs to 2 tbs solid fat; 1 to 1-1/4 tsp BP; plus a pinch of soda. Sometimes other ingredients like sugar, cheese, salt, herbs, etc., are added -- but they're all about flavor and have little to do with biscuits' essence.

And yes, there are some recipes that move the proportions of one ingredient (almost always the fat) outside the usual ranges, but they're outliers.

If most recipes are pretty much the same, the big difference must be "the baker's touch," Linda talked about. Well, yes. Or, better, well YES! The thing of it is, that is it's not that hard to learn 90% of it.

First: Measure and mix your fairly well. You don't have to sift, you don't have to weigh, you don't have to overfill then carefully wipe the tops of your cups and spoons. You have to be close. There's something counterproductive about being too accurate.

Second: Work the fat in well. Most recipes talk about "coarse meal," which has most cooks looking at the size of the lumps. Fine. More or less evenly sized lumps is a good thing -- but not the most important thing. You must make sure that there's no unincorporated fine grains of flour at the bottom of the ball. All of it must be "stuck" to little globs of fat.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth: Don't trust your measuring cup with the liquid. The liquid must be incorporated as quickly and as gently as possible. The amount of moisture in your flour varies with humidity -- quite a bit. That's why there's no perfect recipe. Measure your liquid in an amount the recipe calls for, plus a little more. Pour in about 2/3 of what's called for and mix with a few quick strokes. If the dough doesn't come together completely, add so you've got the recipe amount, and mix -- again with a few quick strokes. And so on, until the dough comes together. Don't worry about getting too much liquid in. Biscuit dough should be wet.

Sixth: Don't waste time, work the dough as quickly as possible. Some of which mean going back in time. Have your bench (board) floured and ready. Have extra bench flour standing by. Have your pin pre-floured. Have your cutter pre-floured.

Seventh: Work the dough as gently as possible. This is the "touch" stuff. What all the stuff has done is get as much bubble structure into the dough as possible. You want to keep it. When you take the dough out of the bowl, it will feel light for its size. The more you work it, the longer you take, the denser and heavier it will feel. You're probably reading the key words as "work" and "longer." Nope. "Feel." The dough will tell you what's going on with it. As soon as it starts to feel dense, heavy or stiff, quit fooling around.

Recipes talk about things like "10 kneading strokes," in an attempt to provide sure guidance to cooks who aren't familiar with the process. But, just like exactly measuring the liquid, you have to let that go in favor of what's actually happening.

As soon as the dough comes together get it out of the bowl and onto a pile of bench flour. Dust the top. Turn the flour over a few times so it's well coated with dry flour. Knead very gently until the dough doesn't feel incredibly sticky any more. How do you know? It only clings to your hands a little bit. Subtle? Not particularly.

Don't waste time. Wash and dry your hands, flour the dough on both sides again, and shape it into a miniature of the shape you like to cut. Then roll it or pat it out. If you use a pin, a plain pin works best. That is, no handles no ball bearings. You want feel, not power.

NOTE: I "turn" biscuit dough the same way one turns puff pastry, i.e., by folding and rolling, re-folding and rolling. But my biscuits are still light. Why? Partly because I do it quickly and gently. Mostly, I stop when the dough's texture changes. I might feel it when I pick up an edge to make a fold; or I might even feel it under the pin. The difference in feel isn't subtle. If you're looking for it, you'll feel it too. Now, I'm not recommending that you turn your biscuits too. What I'm saying is trust the "feel." It will tell you exactly how much with which you can't get away.
post #8 of 8
Yes, learning to feel the dough is very important. I've made cream biscuits from the Cook's Illustrated recipe. I didn't have the best luck with that, most probalby because I hadn't learned to feel the dough well. Have to try it again some time.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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