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secrets for high rising biscuits

  • k

I usually use the biscuit recipe in Joy of Cooking. I am open to any recipe but I don't want to use shortening or lard, just butter. I made biscuits the other night and they tasted yummy and were tender and flaky, but they were thin. I do use a biscuit cutter, and don't knead too much. I rolled the dough to 1/2" thick as per the recipe. Should I roll it less thin? Any advice? Thanks.

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  1. Hi kbl,

    I haven't tried it, but I know that a while back Cook's Illustrated had a recipe for high-rising biscuits. I'm not usually as happy with CI's baking recipes as I am with their cooking recipes, but they test so exhaustively that it's worth a try. If I get a chance I will try to dig it out (I think it's from at least a year back) but you also might try their website. They don't usually have multiple recipes for the same thing, so I'll bet if you found it that it's the right one. I know a biscuit cutter is pretty essential -- a sharp, heavy metal one is best. The clean cut helps it rise.

    I love good biscuits but I admit I'm not proficient at them. I grew up way way way too far North to have learned biscuit-baking at my Grandmother's knee (she taught me lefse instead, but that's an entirely different thread). I love a good biscuit, and am always impressed at a baker who makes a good one. It's definitely not as simple as it looks. I'm almost glad I don't know how to make amazing ones -- I'd eat all dozen of them in a day or two, I like biscuits so much!

    I'd try Cook Illustrated site, if you belong to the site (I don't). Or, ask on one of the Southern boards -- I'll bet there are some bakers who know biscuits there!

    4 Replies
    1. re: Mrs. Smith

      thanks for your response--i will ask my sister in law, I know she is a fan of CI. I always used to use a glass for cutting the bisuits but finally bought a biscuit cutter. I guess I expected it to make more of a difference than it did.

        1. re: Mrs. Smith

          Southerner here, learned from my grandmother(tried to), but I'm not going to be any help with the high-rising part.

          MaMa's biscuits are tender, delicate, and separate into etherial layers...but they don't rise high. I have always associated tall biscuits with those from a can. sorry. but I will say this...touch the biscuits as little as possible. I fear I have a lead-foot and a heavy-hand. My biscuits, when I try to make them the like my grandmother does, come out like hockey pucks. I have to use cheater/yankee recipes like the "touch of grace" cream biscuits in order to get something edible. Oh, the shame of it.

        2. Where in the country do you live? I've read from different sources that the NE and upper Midwest have flours geared towards bread while the South has flour geared towards biscuits (don't know about anywhere else). Apparently your style of flour is related to which of the four primary types of wheat are grown in your area. Mark Bittman in How to Cook Everything suggests using cake flour rather than all purpose for fluffier biscuits. I live in the upper Midwest and once I switched to cake flour, they rose. The recipe in How to Cook Everything just has flour, butter, buttermilk or yogurt and baking powder & soda.

          4 Replies
          1. re: muD

            I live in NYC. Thanks for your suggestions.

            1. re: kbl

              See if you can get your hands on some White Lily flour. It is soft southern flour and is being marketed out of the south now. It makes great biscuits. Also you might like to Google up "Angel Biscuits" they use both yeast and baking powder to raise the biscuits, they were sometimes called "brides biscuits" too. They are simple and delicious. Also, when you are cutting out the biscuits be sure to cut straight down and do not twist the cutter.

              1. re: Candy

                Yeah, you can get it here, though it's fairly expensive. Off the top of my head the only places I know of that have it are Dean & DeLuca and Balducci's where it's something like $5 for a 5 lb bag. Italian 00 flour (for pasta, not the stuff labelled for pizza, with added gluten) would probably work fairly well as a sub, too, but isn't any cheaper than the WL.

                1. re: MikeG

                  Ouch, that is high. I don't pay half that much. But, it does make great biscuits. If you go to White Lily's website it can be ordered for $2.00/bag + shipping. It might pay to buy several bags at once.

          2. I think the combination of a bit of soda with a cultured product like buttermilk (or yogurt) is part of the key. What I haven't seen mentioned is the use of a cast iron skillet. Pre-heat the skillet in the 450 degree oven (at least). Before you put the biscuits in, melt some butter in the hot skillet. Works for me if I do everything else right.

            1. I also use the Joy of Cooking recipe for buttermilk biscuits. Basically use buttermilk instead of milk and replace some of the baking powder with baking soda. Using half pastry flour and half all purpose seems to make them rise higher than straight all purpose. Also, check the dates on the baking powder and baking soda. Fresh baking powder may help.

              1. Texas girl here. Mama and gramma made biscuits and cornbread every day when I was growing up. Probably didn't appreciate their skills but I do now! Anyone who has never eaten anything but a canned biscuit have no idea what they're missing.

                Here's the secret- fresh ingredients, White Lily flour and buttermilk. Use buttermilk instead of milk - they just come out softer, fluffier and tastier. Once you put in the milk and it's mixed enough to put on your floured board, don't treat it like bread - I only touch/turn it over 5 times max, treat it like you are touching a baby's hiney, gently! Roll or pat to 1" and cut with a metal biscuit cutter. Sure my gramma used a glass but that is all she had. Make sure your oven was heating while you mix - it should be hot when you put your biscuits in to cook. 450 for 10 -12 minutes. Now if you don't have White Lily, try to get the lowest protein flour you can. If all else fails, I love Jiffy Baking Mix. Seriously 2 cups plus 2/3 cup of buttermilk - they're excellent, fast and easy. I still can find Jiffy at Walmart (and I hate the place but I will go for this!) Also, put your biscuits touching each other on the baking sheet - they are not canned biscuits so you don't put them an inch apart. It's so easy to make homemade food - biscuits, gravy, cornbread, mashed potatoes - I can't understand why people stopped making the real stuff. In Texas, we put cream gravy on everything and it doesn't kill us. Gramma lived to age 90.