biscuits

The Gentle Art of Biscuits

Biscuits Supreme

Biscuits are easy to make. They really are. Fast, too. You can mix up  a batch of biscuits in the time it takes the oven to preheat.  Yet, I know  people who seem to struggle with them. The other night, a friend and I were talking about the secret to  a light and flaky biscuit.

So what goes wrong? How do you make light, flaky biscuits every time?

For the moment I’ll assume you have a decent recipe. There are a lot of great biscuit recipes out there. I know people that have treasured family recipes. Biscuits that have been made the same way for generations.

Assuming also, that the baking powder is fresh*, there has to be some other reason that some folks just seem to struggle with biscuits.

The problem is, more than likely, over-mixing the dough. When I talk to someone who tells me that their  biscuits are always heavy or tough, I first ask about how they are put together.

Once the dry ingredients have been mixed and the fat cut in, there is just liquid to be added. I prefer to chill whatever fat I am using.

At this point the dough should be handled just enough to hold together. A light hand means a light biscuit. The same is true for making scones. The more you knead the dough, handle the dough and roll the dough, the less flaky biscuits become. Be gentle with your dough.

Don’t treat biscuit dough the way you would a yeast-based dinner roll. The two are very different in how they are handled. Yeast-based doughs benefit from kneading and “working” the dough. Biscuits are the opposite.

Even when cutting out the biscuits, it will help if you cut  them out as close together as you can. That way you have fewer scraps to re-roll. Every time you roll the dough out- it becomes a little tougher. You can always roll or pat your dough into a square and cut out the biscuits into triangles, leaving no scraps and no re-rolling.

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite biscuits. They are light and very flaky. Is there anything better than a fresh, warm biscuit with some butter?

Biscuits Supreme

2 c. flour
4 t. baking powder
2 t. sugar
½ t. cream of tartar
½ t. salt
½ c. cold butter, shortening or coconut oil – you can even use lard
2/3 c. milk

Stir together dry ingredients and cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add milk all at once. Stir until dough sticks together and knead on lightly floured surface 10-12 strokes. Roll or pat to ½ inch thickness. Cut with 2-21/2 inch biscuit cutter and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in 450-degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 10-12.

*If your baking powder might be old, you can test it. Place a couple of tablespoons of boiling water in a cup. Add a teaspoon, or two, of baking powder. The mixture should bubble vigorously. If there are no bubbles, or very few bubbles, you might want to get a new container of baking powder.

The Art of Biscuits

Biscuits Supreme

Biscuits are easy to make. They really are. Fast, too. You can mix up  a batch of biscuits in the time it takes the oven to preheat.  Yet, I know  people who seem to struggle with them. The other night, a friend and I were talking about the secret to  a light and flaky biscuit.

So what goes wrong? How do you make light, flaky biscuits every time?

For the moment I’ll assume you have a decent recipe. There are a lot of great biscuit recipes out there. I know people that have treasured family recipes. Biscuits that have been made the same way for generations.

Assuming also, that the baking powder is fresh*, there has to be some other reason that some folks just seem to struggle with biscuits.

The problem is, more than likely, over-mixing the dough. When I talk to someone who tells me that their  biscuits are always heavy or tough, I first ask about how they are put together.

Once the dry ingredients have been mixed and the fat cut in, there is just liquid to be added. I prefer to chill whatever fat I am using.

At this point the dough should be handled just enough to hold together. A light hand means a light biscuit. The same is true for making scones. The more you knead the dough, handle the dough and roll the dough, the less flaky biscuits become.

Don’t treat biscuit dough the way you would a yeast-based dinner roll. The two are very different in how they are handled. Yeast-based doughs benefit from kneading and “working” the dough. Biscuits are the opposite.

Even when cutting out the biscuits, it will help if you cut  them out as close together as you can. That way you have fewer scraps to re-roll. Every time you roll the dough out- it becomes a little tougher.

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite biscuits. They are light and very flaky. Is there anything better than a fresh, warm biscuit with some butter?

Biscuits Supreme

2 c. flour
4 t. baking powder
2 t. sugar
½ t. cream of tartar
½ t. salt
½ c. cold butter, shortening or coconut oil – you can even use lard
2/3 c. milk

Stir together dry ingredients and cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add milk all at once. Stir until dough sticks together and knead on lightly floured surface 10-12 strokes. Roll or pat to ½ inch thickness. Cut with 2-21/2 inch biscuit cutter and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in 450-degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 10-12.

*If your baking powder might be old, you can test it. Place a couple of tablespoons of boiling water in a cup. Add a teaspoon, or two, of baking powder. The mixture should bubble vigorously. If there are no bubbles, or very few bubbles, you might want to get a new container of baking powder.

Lemonade Biscuits

Lemonade Biscuits

Lemonade Biscuits

I know it sounds odd but these are some of the lightest biscuits I ever made- and easy, too. They aren’t sweet, as you might imagine, but do have a slight lemon flavor. Great with almost any savory dish I could see using these as the base for strawberry shortcake, too.

Lemonade Biscuits

3 c. flour

4 t. baking powder

1 t. salt

1 c. heavy whipping cream

1 c. prepared lemonade

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add cream and lemonade and stir gently until dough just holds together. Using flour on a board, gently knead the dough using gentle pressure until it just holds together. Dough will be sticky. Press or roll out about 1/2 inch thick and cut out with 2 inch biscuit cutter. Re-roll scraps. You should get 20-24  biscuits. Place on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom and light brown on the top. Cool on wire rack.

Dog Biscuits- Bob’s Bacon Biscuits

Bob's Bacon Dog Biscuits

Bob’s Bacon Dog Biscuits

I have a couple of dogs that have been pestering me for homemade dog biscuits. They pointed out, and rightly so, that I always seem to be baking goodies for my human friends. Both Bob and Parker are bacon fiends so I thought I’d incorporate real bacon into the recipes – as opposed to whatever they put in some dog treats. Since I made them with fresh bacon I would not suggest leaving them at room temperature for extended periods. Keep a few in the fridge and place the rest in the freezer- like some premium dog foods. Remember there are no preservatives in these. Also – they are meant to be a treat and not a substitute for  your dog’s normal pet food. Woof Woof!!

Bob’s Bacon Biscuits (dog biscuits)

4-5 thick slices of bacon, cut up

3 1/2 c. flour- I use whole wheat

1 c.  rye flour

2 c. cracked wheat or wheat germ

2 T. brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast

2 c. chicken or beef broth- be sure broth was made without onions- they are bad for dogs

Cook bacon in skillet until crisp. Remove from pan and cool. Reserve 2 Tablespoons of the fat. Place bacon in small food processor and process until pretty ground up. You should end up with 1/3 cup of finely chopped bacon.  Combine dry ingredients then add bacon, reserved bacon fat and broth stirring until well blended.  If the dough is too wet add a little more flour or a little more stock if too dry. Dough should feel like very heavy cookie dough. Harder to roll out- but that is normal. Roll out on lightly floured surface and cut into canine-friendly shapes. I use bones, cats, squirrels, hearts and rabbits.  Since I was making bacon biscuits I even made some piggy-shaped. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake in a preheated 300-degree oven until hard, about 40-45 minutes depending on thickness. Store in fridge for treats being eaten within a few days- store the rest in the freezer. Woof!

Dog biscuit dough

Dog biscuit dough

Ready to be baked

Ready to be baked

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

This is one of my favorite recipes. I’ll be making it for St. Patrick’s day, but truth is, I make it often throughout the year. It is studded with raisins and goes great with butter and jam. It is also very easy to make. Like any other biscuit or quick bread be careful to handle the dough  just enough to hold it together. Over working the dough will cause it to be tough. The soda bread should be crusty on the outside and tender and crumbly inside.

Irish Soda Bread

2 c. flour

½ t. each baking powder and baking soda

¼ t. salt

2 T. butter or margarine

¾ c. raisins

1 egg. Beaten

1 c. buttermilk*

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dust a baking sheet with a little flour. Combine dry ingredients in bowl and cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Add raisins. Combine egg and milk and set 2 tablespoons of this mixture aside. Add remaining milk mixture to flour mixture and combine just until dough forms into a ball. Place on baking sheet, brush with reserved egg mixture and cut a crisscross on top of loaf. Bake about 25 minutes or until bread sounds hollow. Makes 1.

* If you don’t have buttermilk just combine 7 oz. of milk with 1 oz. of lemon juice to equal 1 cup of buttermilk.

Combine dry ingredients with butter and raisins

Combine dry ingredients with butter and raisins

 

Stir in buttermilk and egg

Stir in buttermilk and egg

Form into round loaf

Form into round loaf

Brush with reserved egg mixture

Brush with reserved egg mixture

Cut an "x" on the top.

Cut an “x” on the top.

 

 

 

 

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