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Simple, flaky biscuit recipe

Biscuit

Scattered.

If I had to pick one word for my life the last while, it would have to be scattered. Just as one crazy thing is brought under control, the next careens into view. Like garlic butter in your cake pan. Or a teetering stack of biscuits.

One of my surest cures for scattered is bread. As I gather the bits of ragged dough and knead them together into a cohesive whole, I am, likewise, remade just a bit, my loose edges reintegrated and all that. It's one of my favorite meditative states.

flaky goodness

Biscuits are the power nap of bread-baking. Fast as any quick bread, yet, when well done, as rewarding as any multi-day, wild-yeast rustic loaf. It's all about the crumb. Or the flake, in this case.

Biscuits are also dead simple, once you get the hang of it. If you know what the dough should look like and, secondarily, how it feels, biscuits are quick and simple. (The elapsed time on the photos in my making biscuits photo set is just under half an hour, and it would have been faster without the constant interruption of the photos.)

Fresh is best! Just out of the oven, a biscuit is layers of delicate, steaming flaky near-pastry. Add a smear of butter and a dollop of jam and it could be dessert!

Reheated biscuits can be quite good, even though they lack the possible transcendence of a biscuit moments from the oven. My recipe makes a 2-3 person batch of about half a dozen biscuits. (I used to be anti-reheated biscuits entirely but have softened after trying these the morning after.) Reheat, if you must - and I say this as someone whose default recipe includes leftovers for stay-at-home me the next day - covered in a 350 oven for 5 min or so, depending on how much insulation your covering provides. A pie pan with foil will heat in 5 min, a pizza stone with a heavy ceramic cover (i.e. my oven) gives you more leeway, taking 10 or a few more.

I was tempted to start this article, "When I was a child, I baked as a child..." because that is when I was taught to make biscuits and they are that easy. Biscuits are perfect for teaching small children to bake: quick, simple, and very hands-on. Plus, tiny child hands can be very gentle, which helps with the flakiness. (This recipe is in my cookbook: Picture Yourself Cooking With Your Kids because it's a sure winner with the wee ones, and their parents.)

I should make biscuits more often.

Biscuits for two

                      makes ~6

My definition of "for two" is two each and some leftover for my breakfast the next day. Your math may vary.

                                                       
 

Ingredient

 
 

 

US

volume  
 

US weight

 
 

Metric weight

 
 

All-purpose flour

 
 

2   1/4 cups

 
 

10   1/8 oz

 
 

285   g

 
 

Salt

 
 

3/4   tsp

 
 

1/8   oz

 
 

4-5   g

 
 

Sugar

 
 

1   tsp

 
 

5/8   oz

 
 

18   g

 
 

Baking   powder

 
 

4   tsp

 
 

5/8   oz

 
 

19   g

 
 

Butter,   very cold

 
 

1/3   cup

 
 

2   5/8 oz

 
 

75   g

 
 

Milk,   very cold

 
 

1   cup

 
 

8   oz

 
 

225   g

 
  1. Preheat oven to 450°
  2. Place flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in food processor and pulse for a few seconds to combine.
  3. Cut butter into small pieces and add to food processor. Pulse half a dozen times and check for the size of the butter pieces. Repeat if necessary until the butter is in pieces roughly the size of peas.
  4. mixing biscuits Put flour mixture in a mixing bowl and add the cold milk. Toss together gently until barely combined. I use the little white plastic tool in the picture to lift the dough from the side of the bowl and dump it on top of the rest of the dough.
  5. As soon as the dough holds together, turn it out on a lightly floured counter. Gently "knead" the dough a few strokes until it is a mostly a cohesive ball. (Click here for a close-up of what the dough looks like before kneading. Here's the after shot.)
  6. Roll the dough into a rectangle 1/2-3/4 inch thick, depending on how tall you like your biscuits. Cut into 2 inch circles, you should get ~6, and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. (See note about leftover dough.)
  7. Bake at 450° for 8-10 minutes. Butter and eat while still warm.

Notes

  • I use a food processor to cut up the butter for biscuits, pie crusts etc. If you don't have a food processor, you can use a large fork, a pair of dull knives, or just rub the butter and flour gently between your fingers to create the same effect. Your hands will warm the butter a little bit, so if you have time to chill the dough briefly after doing this, do - your biscuits will be flakier.
  • There will be some dough left over after you cut the biscuits. Unless you need all of the biscuits for this meal, smoosh it into a ball, wrap it in plastic and stick it in the refrigerator until the next morning. They will be a bit better than if the dough is rerolled immediately.
  • I use one of those plastic cutting boards you can pick up for a buck or so because it contains all of the mess and makes cleanup a snap.
  • I encourage you to check out the images in my making biscuits flickr set and get a closeup look at the texture of the dough at various steps in the process.

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Hi new people! I'm so happy you stopped by. This recipe has been very popular, often ranking #1 on various biscuit recipe searches so I am guessing a lot of you are new here. Quick background on kitchenMage and me and a Venn diagram of kitchenMage with a bit more about the site. Here are a few other popular posts: a no-cook ice cream recipe (yes, with eggs), small batch of The Pioneer Women's Cinnamon Rolls, and one of my favorites, Cook's Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knife Roll. Oh yeah, see that ad on the top of the sidebars? Apparently I wrote a cookbook, too.

For an edgier perspective try Dear PETA, women are animals too... and if that amuses you, I also write at Not Like Normal People where I let my inner sarcastian come out and look at the world sideways. Catch up with me there or on twitter @kitchenmage or @notlikenormal.

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Now that I did some self-promotion, which I truly abhor, let me brag about my readers and their amazing biscuits. 

Come back and let me know how your biscuits turned out. I have been thrilled with how many people bake flaky biscuits for the first time after reading this post. I think it's the photos. If you write about baking them, leave me a link in your comment and I will add it here.

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