After the Lemon Curd post and all my professing the joys of biscuits and lemon curd, you had to see this one coming. Maybe just a little bit? Why make biscuits when you can get perfectly good ones out of a can, or just as easily whip up a batch by adding milk to some baking mix?
While baking mix is convenient and occasionally useful, homemade biscuits are not very complicated to make, and they taste so much better. Consider biscuit making a life skill. Right there next to roasting chicken, or sewing on a button. And burping the alphabet. I’m still working on that last one, but if I ever master it, my boys will think I’m a genius.
Never underestimate the power of a well played burp from Mom. Never.
You are either totally grossed out right now, or you can appreciate a good burp. Or you have friends/sons/brothers/boyfriends/husbands that do, and you understand. Who’s with me?
Is this thing on?
Oh-kay. From perfectly fluffy homemade biscuits to belching and back again. The great thing about homemade biscuits is that they can be put together fairly quickly, and are so satisfying. And the smell–they’re is nothing more comforting than the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven.
Just six simple ingredients are needed to make homemade biscuits, and they are all pantry staples!
4 C. all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. baking powder
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
10 ½ Tbs. very cold, unsalted butter
1 ¾-2 C. 2% milk
Start with the usual events–preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and line baking sheets with baking mats or parchment paper.
Put the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large bowl and whisk it around a bit to evenly distribute everything.
Keep the butter in the refrigerator until the last possible moment. Butter has a high water content, so it is the very cold butter is what creates the texture of the biscuit. As the butter heats and melts during baking, the water evaporates and creates air pockets. It’s these air pockets that make the biscuit light and fluffy. The colder the butter, the longer it takes for all the water to evaporate during baking, the larger the air pockets created, thus the flakier the biscuit. Flaky biscuits = good stuff.
When you’re ready, and if you have a pastry blender, cut the very cold butter into 1 inch chunks, and scatter the chunks in the flour mixture.
Toss a bit of flour over the top of the chunks, then get to work with the pastry blender. Cut the butter into the flour until the butter is cut to the size of peas.
If you don’t happen to have a pastry blender, don’t cut the butter into chunks. Instead, grate the butter through the large holes of a box grater while holding it over the flour mixture. Then try to distribute the butter shreds through the flour, and toss to coat them.
Make a well in the center and gradually add the milk. I start by adding 1 1/2 cups of milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, and gently folding the flour mixture around the milk to combine.
Add an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup of milk, lightly folding and stirring until the dough starts to come together and clean the sides of the bowl. The dough will be lumpy, and slightly crumbly. You don’t want the dough to be too wet or sticky. Now you can stop right here, and make drop biscuits by taking a large spoon, and scoop the dough and plop mounds of it onto the baking sheets. They taste just as good, and have a rustic look to them. It’ll do in a pinch, but I prefer rolled biscuits because they are easier to cut and add toppings. And they’re pretty, and I am all about pretty food.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. I have a pastry cloth/frame that I adore, so I use that, but a clean and floured counter top would do. Lightly pat the dough into a rectangle. Biscuit dough is very soft, so a gentle touch is key. Think of it like patting someone on the back when giving them a hug–don’t smack too hard. Knead gently.
Fold the dough in half from right to left. Give it a few light pats, turn the dough a quarter turn, then fold it in half again from right to left. Give it a few more pats to flatten it out.
Do the patting, folding, and patting a total of six times. Then take a rolling pin, and gently roll it into a large rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick.
Cut the dough with a 3 inch biscuit or cookie cutter. Push the cutter straight down, and whatever you do, resist the urge to twist the cutter. If you cave and twist the cutter, it’ll be an epic disaster. OK, not really. But the biscuits won’t rise as high. You can also use a glass as a biscuit cutter, but they aren’t quite as sharp as a cutter, so they may not rise as high. They’ll still be tasty, though!
I got 8 biscuits on the first go-round. Knead the scraps back together, and keep on cutting. Try to cut the biscuits as close together as possible so that you are not working the dough too much. Overworked dough results in tough biscuits. Don’t worry! It takes awhile to get to that point–you’ll be able to feel the dough get springy or stiff when it does.
Place the cut biscuits on the prepared baking sheets, about two inches apart.
I like to lightly brush the tops of the biscuits with a little milk, before baking. The milk will make the tops nice and golden while baking. Bake biscuits in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, or until the tops are a light, golden brown.
Eat ’em while they are hot, or put them on a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool, the biscuits can be stored in an airtight container on the counter for a few days.
I typically get anywhere from 15-18 biscuits. That sounds like a lot, but they really don’t last very long–and they freeze beautifully! If I want to freeze any in my house, I have to hide them from my boys before they realize that I’ve made them. They would eat 3-4 biscuits at a time if I let them. And because they like their carbs with more carbs, if I gave them unlimited access to the creme honey, they would probably eat the whole batch.
Of course, I might have mentioned that I prefer my biscuits warm, with a healthy layer of fresh lemon curd. A bit of fresh fruit on the side wouldn’t be amiss, either. Give me a steamy mug of chai, and I’m in my happy place. Until the boys start fighting over who gets the last biscuit.
Oh! If you’re feeling a little creative, here are a few ideas:
Flavor Variations of Homemade Biscuits
Cinnamon-Raisin homemade biscuits: Whisk 1 tsp. ground cinnamon into the dry ingredients. Knead in ½ C. raisins into the dough during kneading process. Continue and bake as directed. Meanwhile, mix 1 ½ C. powdered sugar with 2 Tbs. milk to make a glaze. Drizzle glaze over cooled biscuits.
Garlic-Cheddar homemade biscuits: Whisk ½ tsp. garlic powder and ½ C. finely shredded cheddar cheese into the dry ingredients. Continue as directed.
Savory Sage homemade biscuits: Whisk in ½ tsp. dried sage into the dry ingredients. Continue as directed, sprinkling a pinch of kosher salt on top of the biscuits after brushing with milk.
Lightly Lemon homemade biscuits: Whisk in 2 tsp. fresh lemon zest into dry ingredients. Continue and bake as directed. Meanwhile, mix 1 ½ C. powdered sugar with 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice to make a glaze. Drizzle glaze over cooled biscuits. (These are great with raspberry jam!)
- 4 C. all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbs. baking powder
- 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 10 ½ Tbs. very cold, unsalted butter
- 1 C. 2% milk
- ¾ C. buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats; set aside.
- In a large, bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
- Add very cold butter to the dry ingredients in the bowl. Cut in with a pastry blender or grate through a box grater, until butter is the size of small peas.
- Gradually add the milk and buttermilk, lightly stirring to combine. Dough should just come together and pull away from the side of the bowl, without being too wet or overly sticky. (I typically only need about 1 ¾ C. of total milks, depending on the density of the flour and humidity. I start with 1 ½ C. total, then if the dough is still too dry, slowly add up to ¼ - ½ cup more milk, until dough comes together.)
- TO MAKE DROP BISCUITS
- Scoop biscuit dough with a large spoon, and plop dough balls onto the prepare baking sheet.
- TO MAKE ROLLED BISCUITS
- Turn dough out onto a clean and lightly floured work surface or pastry mat. Lightly flour the top of the dough. Then, flatten the dough into a 1 inch thick rectangle. Gently knead the dough by folding it onto itself and lightly flattening into another rectangle. Repeat this process 5 times. It is important to have a light touch, and not to over work dough or biscuits will be tough. Slow and gentle is the key.
- Pat or roll the kneaded dough into a large rectangle, ½ inch tall.
- Using a 3 inch diameter biscuit cutter, push straight down to cut biscuits. Do not turn the biscuit cutter, or biscuits will not rise as well. Also, cut the biscuits as close together as possible.
- Piece together remaining dough, and repeat the process until all of the dough is used.
- Place biscuits onto prepared baking sheets. Brush the tops of the biscuits with a little bit of milk.
- Bake biscuits for 12-14 minutes, or until tops begin to turn golden brown around the edges, and they are puffed up.
- Serve warm, or cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container on the counter for several days.