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Biscuits: Patting Dough vs. Rolling Dough

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I plan to make biscuits for breakfast and want to know if anyone has noticed any difference between rolling the dough out with a rolling pin versus patting the dough out by hand. Many recipes say that you can use either method but is one superior? Does one tend to make the biscuits more dense? less flakey?

Thanks in advance

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  1. I know the less you handle biscuit dough, the more tender the biscuits will be. I usually mix the dough in a food processor and them dump it all onto my cutting board. I roll it around to pick up any loose flour and then kind of pat it into a thick disk. I do roll it out with a rolling pin the first time to cut out biscuits, but then I take the scraps and just gather them (instead of taking them, forming a ball, and rolling back out) together and pat them down to the right thickness. I try to cut the remaining biscuits out of this so I don't have to mess with the scraps one more time.

    The first set of biscuits comes out nice and flaky. The second set is flaky, but a little more dense (very slightly), probably due to it being the second round as opposed to the hand patting. One thing I do notice is that the rolling pin set looks nicer, where the hand patted set looks more rustic and not as smooth on top.

    When it's all said and done, they all taste great hot with butter and jam! I'll keep using the rolling pin because I like how they look.

    2 Replies
    1. re: leanneabe

      I've never made biscuits in the food processor before. Would you mind sharing the recipe you use?

      1. re: China

        I don't use a particular recipe, I just use the processor to cut the flour into the butter easily. If you work is short pulses, the butter doesn't get to warm and it's much faster than using a pastry cutter. Then I add in the liquid with short pulses until it starts to come together. The, out it goes onto the cutting board for rolling and cutting.

    2. a light touch in any handling makes for lighter, fluffier biscuits. I make a 2-cup-of-flour batch and just knead 3 or 4 turns in the bowl, place on a lightly floured board and pat into place. I roll only if I'm covering a chicken pot pie or similar casserole, where you need a thinner biscuit. If you use a bicuit cutter, flour it between cuts and don't twist.

      For the best biscuits, don't re-roll the snippets and recut. Save the scraps and roll instead to a thin sheet. Cut large 5" rounds and stuff with cheddar cheese for "turnovers" instead. These are great with any meal.

      1 Reply
      1. re: toodie jane

        That's a great tip. Thanks! I generally either need to roll the scraps back into another ball or have *gasp* square biscuits

      2. rolling pin (at least in my heavy hands) makes hockey pucks, not biscuits. I must pat.

        1 Reply
        1. re: danna

          Me too. Patting works best.

        2. I had always watched biscuits patted, and then I got a DVD from White Lily Flour. Lots of great never-befor-heard-of cooks doing their best dishes on it.
          They had a lady patting biscuits and she makes every other cook I've ever seen appear heavy handed. And her biscuits were beautiful and so very, very light. I can only imagin good butter melting into them.

          1. This months issue of Fine Cooking has an article about how to make flaky biscuits. I don't have it in front of me but if I remember correctly:

            1) use very cold butter. cut into small cubes and gently mix it with the flour. You don't want to get it too warm, basically just want to seperate the cubes and cover with flour.
            2)Pat, don't roll. Fold the dough over (as if you are folding a letter) and then pat out again. I think this was to add layers?
            3) If using a biscuit cutter don't twist because it seals the edges and they don't rise.

            6 Replies
            1. re: viperlush

              Peachblossom: young lady I love that name, I have been making the bisquits my
              mother taught me when I was a kid, I am 65 now I use the same recipe, I roll them
              about 3/4-1 inch thick. I use the bisquit cutter my mother had when she taught me. when she passed on I was able to get her bisquit cutter. Its an old one wooden handle
              but it still works as the first time I ever used it. My oldest grandaughter Heather will
              get it when I`m through. take care and it just takes a little practice just like making
              pie dough. happy baking.

              1. re: bigjimbray

                *blushing* Thanks. My parents have a peach tree in their yard and it has the most beautiful blossoms.

                1. re: bigjimbray

                  My grandmother (age 99) stopped making biscuits a few years ago. You just gave me the shameful idea to go swipe her wood-handled biscuit cutter before someone else does. It may be magic.

                  1. re: danna

                    Don't swipe it...ask her nicely to give it to you, and ask her to tell you about how she learned to make biscuits. One of the last conversations I had with my grandmother involved how to make croquignolles (a kind of doughnut)...she told me all about how she was the baker of the family, and not the fry cook, etc.

                    1. re: Hungry Celeste

                      How she learned. That's a good idea. Because asking her to tell me how to make them, + watching her make them a thousand times didn't really do the trick. Perhaps the learning story would give some insight.

                      But I wouldn't DARE ask her for the biscuit cutter. I would not want to remind her that she will never make biscuits again. I think time flys so fast at her age she probably has no idea how long it's been since she made us any.

                      My cousin's wife actually videotaped her making the buscuits to try to learn. No avail. None of us can do them like she does, not even my Mom who learned at her feet. I fear we have all failed her, just like I failed my grandfather by loosing the whole crop of yellow watermelons from the seeds he saved the summer before he died. These heirloom foods are dying out w/ my generation.

                2. re: viperlush

                  I have always folded the dough layers lengthwise then widthwise thinking that helps to create layers. I have never tried without folding -- anyone have any input? To fold or not to fold? Do you still get the layers without folding?

                3. I second the mention of not overworking the dough.
                  I pat the dough out.

                  1. Do NOT knead, do NOT roll; just pat lightly and cut.

                    1. Sometimes I roll and cut, sometimes I pat and cut, sometimes I scoop out a chunk and form it in my hand. I guess I've never really paid attention to the texture. Biscuits are good!! Sometimes, when I have the ingredients, I make this recipe with sprite and sour cream using Bisquick. I know, not very chowish but they are sooo good!