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Trying to perfect the homemade biscuit.

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I have tried many recipes and cant find the best biscuit recipe. Would like some advice or a great biscuit recipe?

Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 17

Seems like the perfect biscuit would mean different things to different people. How would you describe the perfect biscuit?

post #3 of 17

The secret to a great biscuit (I love biscuits... love 'em. Bake 'em all the time) in my mind is to treat it like Pie Dough. Keep your hands off it as much as possible. I use butter, or lard (yes, Lard)... never veg shortening or oil.

 

Mix dry, cut in fat, add milk, mix. Dump out on floured surface, cover with plastic wrap and quickly press it into a more or less uniform thickness. I don't take a rolling pin to them, and never overwork them. Always light, always fluffy, always perfect.

post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by PrairieChef View Post

The secret to a great biscuit (I love biscuits... love 'em. Bake 'em all the time) in my mind is to treat it like Pie Dough. Keep your hands off it as much as possible.

 

Gotta disagree. For a long time that was my problem. Too LITTLE handling. I kept reading advice like that and kept getting crappy biscuits. You have to handle it the right amount. A LITTLE bit of kneading is good for it.  And I've found no description in text or video that is adequate to describe it. You have to experience and develop the skill to recognize it. 

 

 

Boar_d_laze has written on this topic a few times and is worth reading though.

 

http://www.cheftalk.com/forum/thread/56363/what-happens-if-biscuits-are-over-kneaded-or-over-mixed is one and there are others you can find in the search tool.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #5 of 17

I tried, and failed, to make biscuits in Kentucky for over 25 years.  Disgraceful for a hillbilly to admit!  lol.gif  However, I stumbled across Mario Batali and realised my method of mixing was wrong.  Since then, viola, biscuits that have a puff of steam when you pull them apart and melt in your mouth, flavor without chewing.  The secret:  Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour in your wet mixture.  Use a fork to work under the base of the outer shell of flour and pull the dry flour into the wet ingredients, while turning the bowl.  The goal is to incorporate the wet and dry mixture evenly, steadily, and reasonably gently.  As soon as the dough comes together, STOP Mixing!  I mean as soon as your last dry section gets slightly moist, stop mixing.  Lightly knead only until mix comes together - about 6 times, form, and bake. 

 

That's what worked for me for over 10 years.  Happy Baking. 

 

P.S. I have used cooking oil in place of lard and/or butter for the last 2 years as my cholesterol level went through the roof.  And they are almost (never quite as good) as the standard lard/butter combos.  The trick, mix in the liquid cooking oil, using a whisk to stir as you add the correct amount, and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the freezer for about 10 minutes.  Remove and proceed as usual. 

post #6 of 17

I say keep your hands off it... because of the heat of your hands.

 

...and I'm confused, because it sounds like BDL is saying the exact same thing as I just did, just with more words.

post #7 of 17

I have to say I misunderstood the "keep your hands off" as well.  I also thought you meant not to knead and to just cover and push everything together.  I hadn't thought about the heat factor and will try that on my next biscuit bake.  Thanks for the tip.

post #8 of 17

BDL discusses dough texture and the work to get there. It's somewhat subtle as I said.  And I meant that BDL had written on biscuits in general in ways that were worth reading.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #9 of 17

The "secret" is two-fold:  1.  Knowing what you a "good biscuit" is like; 2.  Proper technique for that type of bicuit; and  3.  Practice, practice, practice.

 

Ihe term bisquit evokes several semi-related bread-like food items.  I prefer the kind I grew up with and dislike the kind of bisquit made in other regions of the country/world.

 

If one likes "New England-style" biscuits, there is a regional Maine product called Bakewell Cream (available at King Arthur webstroe, I believe) that has what I consider to be "THE recipe and THE technique."

post #10 of 17

I knead mine just a little, until the dough becomes smooth, instead of loose and fluffy. I also roll mine with a rolling pin, fold in the sides, roll again, fold again (4 or 5 times), then cut with a glass (I don't have a biscuit cutter the right size). This seems like it's toughening the dough, but it's making layers so the biscuits turn out high and light, yet flaky.

 

I agree on using lard, too. I've tried shortening, butter, margarine (yuck!), and oil, but the lard gives the nicest crumb. I cut mine in with a blending fork, sort of slicing off bits. I try not to cut it in too finely. Those bits of grease are partly responsible for making the finished product flaky.

 

To keep the biscuits moist inside, bake at 450-500 degrees F, just until lightly brown.

 

I make them with either regular milk or buttermilk. If using buttermilk, I mix it with equal parts water and add a little baking soda to the dry ingredients.

 

If you'd like, I can give you a recipe. I watched Grandma make hers and estimated the amounts (she didn't measure anything), then worked on it at home, adjusting the ingredient measures, until mine came out like hers. 

 

One more thing, part of the secret is in the flour. I couldn't make biscuits at all up north. When I moved south I could make them perfectly, even though I was using the exact same recipe. I'm pretty sure it's a difference in the flour.

post #11 of 17



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Granny Smith View Post

I'm pretty sure it's a difference in the flour.



 I'd agree, but can't explain why.  Many years ago when I frequently traveled to the South I'd pack my bags with Martha White flour and white corn meal.  Neither is available where I live.  martha White flour ALWAYS worked better for bicuits and pie crust... and the taste of white corn cornbread is very different from yellow corn cornbread.  I can't recall if Southern flour really has a lower protein than other AP flour, but both southern AP flour and Southern cornmeal are somehow different.

post #12 of 17

The south tends to use a lower protein or softer flour. It's what grows better there.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #13 of 17

Make sure your wet and dry ingredients are fully combined, do not over mix. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, either push and form the dough to desired thickness or lightly roll with a rolling pin. Cut the biscuits with an open biscuit cutter, never use a glass or cup, they compress the dough because there is air trapped inside the cup when you push down to cut the biscuit. When the biscuits come out, brush the top of each biscuit lightly with melted butter to keep them soft and moist. If you ask 100 people how to make biscuits, you will get 100 different ways......................The best........................CBB

post #14 of 17

ChefBillyB, you just gave me an idea!  Instead of using a glass to cut my biscuits, I'm going to cut the bottom out of a tuna can and use that (the can, not the bottom) That would make them the size I like. Thanks for your post!

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 

I would like to thank everyone for the advice...that's a lot of info. I have tried everything but lard...think I will give it a try. Most of the time my biscuits come out pretty dry...might be leaving them in the oven too long. My biscuits did improve though, when I used White Lilly flour that's made from southern winter wheat. Some folks use one part of White Lilly and one part cake flour. I will combine some of the methods discussed below and see what I come up with.

Thanks again for all the great advice.

post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 

That would be great if I could get that recipe from you. I am a recipe hoarder, ha. It sounds good and would like to give it a try.

The open sided cookie method sounds like good advice, I also have been using a glass to cut my biscuits and can see where that can compact the dough.

Thanks again.

post #17 of 17
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