Let’s discuss biscuits. No matter whether you make simple drop biscuits, cut-out biscuits or biscuits that highlight a special ingredient such as cornmeal or whole grain flour, some simple principles remain constant. Carefully selecting and measuring ingredients, as well as correct mixing techniques, are basic principles that are as true today as they were centuries ago.
These 10 additional tips should help you make the best biscuits ever:
1. Measure ingredients accurately. What’s even more important, though, is to NOT sift the flour in the recipe. Surprising? Yes, but there’s no longer any reason to sift the flour as a baker might have done many years ago.One of the dry ingredients in biscuits is the leavening (or baking) powder, which is sometimes referred to as “double-acting baking powder.” This means it first releases its action when the liquid is mixed in, and then when the biscuits are placed in the oven at a high heat. What does this mean for you? After adding liquid to the batter, avoid letting the batter stand before shaping the biscuits. Always bake biscuits immediately after forming them.
2. When mixing, handle the batter as little as possible to prevent the biscuits from becoming tough. Just stir until the batter forms a dough and all ingredients are mixed together. Strive for tenderness when making biscuits.
3. You may think the batter or dough is messy and sticky. Very lightly flour your hands or rolling pin so the batter does not stick to the cutting board or rolling pin. If you add too much flour, it will toughen the dough, so use extra flour sparingly.
4. Some buttermilk biscuits are rolled and cut out instead of dropped onto the baking pan. Instead of using a rolling pin, pat the dough to the size and shape given in the recipe. If the dough is patted into shape, the top of the dough may have an uneven surface and not be perfectly smooth. That's just fine – the tops are slightly uneven (but very interesting!)
5. When cutting out the biscuits, use a strong, sharp metal biscuit cutter to make it easy to cut through the dough. Don’t twist the cutter as you cut the dough, or the biscuits may turn out lopsided.
6. The best baking sheets for biscuits are metal sheets without a lip on the side. If the sheet is too thin, the biscuits may burn. If the sheet has a lip on the side, the biscuits may not bake evenly. If there is enough fat in the biscuit dough, there is no need to grease the baking sheet.
7. If you want the biscuits to be browned on all sides, place them 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Otherwise, place them 1/2 inch apart. The biscuits will have a soft texture and the tops will not be over-browned.
8. Always preheat the oven when baking biscuits. The baking powder will act immediately in the high heat.
9. Leftover biscuits can be stored in resealable plastic bags, and, when refrigerated, will keep about 4 days. They can be frozen for up to a month without drying out. Unbaked cut-out biscuits can be frozen up to 1 month. Freeze the biscuits individually on a baking sheet and, when frozen, wrap them in aluminum foil and transfer to resealable freezer bag. When ready to bake – don’t thaw, but simply double the baking time of fresh biscuits.
Try your hand at making biscuits with our Perfect Buttermilk Biscuit recipe, and let us know if these tips helped. We’ve included a few flavor variations at the end of the recipe. Use your imagination, and, most importantly, have fun!