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Homemade Biscuits - Any good tips?

One of the topics today is asking what do we make when we have some free time. So today is my day to make good biscuits.

I once had them at this restaurant and they were as light and airy little pillows, always served as their "Biscuit and Gravy" breakfast item and one of my favorites.

The restaurant started with Greek owners, and then after changing to Asian owners that kept the recipes and used them. All of their sauces and breakfasts had something in them, a unique spice that really made a wonderful eggs benedict outstangingly good. But truly their shining stars were those biscuits!!

When I make biscuits, often they end up heavy, don't rise very much at all, and the insides have a crumbly texture. Their biscuits have that a slight layer thing going on, and that's the biscuit I'm searching for. And they promised me that they were indeed homemade, but would not share the recipe, they would just smile when asked.

Anyone know a good recipe for fluffy and lighter than air biscuits?

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  1. I'm sure you'll get lots of good recipes. The secret is to barely work the dough. Use as little handling as possible and then you'll have tender, wonderful biscuits. Here's one recipe that's worked for me.

    Mile-High Biscuits

    3 cups flour
    2 Tablespoons sugar
    1 Tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup shortening
    1 egg, beaten
    3/4 cup milk

    Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt, mix well. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine egg and milk and then add to flour mixture, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out on lightly floured surface. Knead 8 or 10 times. Roll dough to 1-inch thickness, cut with biscuit cutter. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

    Makes: 15 biscuits

    1 Reply
    1. re: wyf4lyf

      Dear wyf4lyf,
      well I am stuffed! I wanted to try your recipe first since you responded so quickly, I did find the buttermilk so they are my next project today, with raspberries.

      Today I made the mile highs, I had some problems with the dough mixing well, probably be cause I was to afraid to tough the dough to much. We are expecting rain today, I wonder how much the atmosphere played into my biscuit project!
      Anyway, I used King Arthur's flour, and I changed nothing except used a sil pat to line a cookie sheet. I actually could not roll them the dough seemed dry. However, I did not want to mess with your recipe, so tried to keep the dough together pressing it but not handling it too much. Tell me though is this the way they should look?
      I made them probably a little thicker than an inch and used a zigzag round biscuit cutter. They cut fine, but some sort of mutated in the oven, on the tops.

      At 450 degrees in a gas oven, with the baking rack in the middle.
      I pulled them out, to moist in the center, back in for two more minutes. Ok. Now we're getting somewhere. 4 fo the 6 came out pretty nice. A whole lot better than anything I have EVER made. Mine have always been hard, and really crumbly.

      So here are the photos and thank you!!! Oh I ate them with left over Chicken Fried Steak, and gravy, I did not eat dinner last night saving myself for the biscuits.

    2. There was recently a similiar thread to this one with some good hints on how to properly mix the dough.


      1 Reply
      1. re: viperlush

        thanks viperlush, you're right good tips, and handling techniques. I should of checked first!

      2. I had extremely good luck with the Cream Cheese and Chive Biscuits from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook (I didn't use chives). They have the layer thing going on and are extremely light and fluffy. Like you, my biscuits before that had always turned out heavy and somewhat rubbery. When I made this recipe, I was so, so, so careful not to overwork- like, so careful, that I kept second guessing myself worrying that they weren't mixed well enough. They turned out perfectly! I was so pleased with myself! Of course, I can't get her website to work right now, so I don't know if that recipe is on there, but I could paraphrase tonight if you want. My apologies if you're a biscuit purist and can't fathom cream cheese, but it sold me!

        3 Replies
        1. re: Katie Nell

          Katie Nell if you can remember great! I am going to make several batches of the biscuits, and do comparisons this weekend. I really didn't expect such variations to my question. However. I am not opposed to having a chive and cream cheese biscuit that is poofy, and layers with the texture that I think you all know what I mean. Please if it is not too much trouble.
          I wil post my results. I hope that the bad weather we are expecting here over the weeknd in NoCal, will not affect the biscuits?

          1. re: chef chicklet

            Cream Cheese and Chive Biscuits

            2 1/2 cups ap flour
            1 1/2 t. baking powder
            1/4 t. baking soda
            1 1/4 t. salt
            1 T. sugar
            1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
            1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold, diced
            4 oz. cream cheese, cold, diced
            1 1/4 cups buttermilk

            Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and chives together. Cut in the butter and cream cheese until you have coarse crumbs. Add the buttermilk and mix with a fork until it just is coming together. (The dough is pretty sticky.) Place the dough on a floured surface and knead a few times until the dough is fairly smooth. (Again, be careful not to overwork the dough as everyone says!) Roll out to an 11x8 rectangle, 1" thick. Fold the dough in thirds like you would a business letter. Turn the dough a 1/4 turn and roll out again to 11x8, and fold again. Chill for 30 minutes in plastic wrap. Roll out the dough again after chilling and repeat the same process as above. After the second round of folding and turning, roll out to 11x8 and cut into rectangles (I'm sure you could do round if you wanted, but I liked the idea of rectangles.) Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about an 1-1/2" apart and chill for 1 hour. Bake at 425 for 15- 18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

            These freeze beautifully, and I just take a couple out at a time when I want some to go with dinner. You just bake from frozen and add a couple of minutes to the baking time. I couldn't find chives when I wanted to make them, so I just omitted them. I've been sprinkling them with Parmesan right before baking!

            1. re: Katie Nell

              thank you so much, I have a great recipe folder for biscuits going right not. I didn't realize there are so many variations. Probably this was my first problem!

        2. If you use self-rising flour, whatever the brand, it will be made from lower-gluten wheat than that same brand's all-purpose flour. At the extreme end of that is the fabulous and only regionally available (except by online mail-order) White Lily, with which it is practically impossible to make a heavy biscuit. Here's the recipe that's on their bag (paraphrased):

          2 cups self-rising flour
          1/4 cup fat (shortening, lard or butter)
          2/3 cup milk or buttermilk

          Preheat oven to 500º

          Cut fat into flour until it resembles coarse crumbs (does it ever REALLY do that? I just cut it in until there aren't any big lumps left or my wrist goes out on me, whichever comes first). Stir the milk/buttermilk into this with a fork until it all becomes a dough. Put it out onto a floured surface, knead a few times, roll to desired thickness, place onto cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes. Makes about 1 dozen.

          Now, according to Shirley Corriher, the secret of really tall fluffy biscuits is doing all the above except the dough should be as wet as you can possibly handle. It should not be kneaded, but just rolled or patted very gently to about 1" thickness, cut with a 2" cutter, then packed into a 9" square baking pan fairly tightly. I did some like that and they were just the right size for pork tenderloin buffet sandwiches. Those were also not made with White Lily, but with plain old Gold Medal self-rising, and they came out just fine.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Will Owen

            Don't handle the dough! (I can hear my mom's voice in my ears.)

            And also, make sure the temperature is accurate. If you have a fast oven, you need to keep an eagle eye on them to make sure they don't burn.

            1. re: Will Owen

              wow, they sound delicious too! What a greeat idea for a buffet to make your own sandwich biscuit. Thanks!

              1. re: Will Owen

                I agree. Self-rising white lily + lard + buttermilk = Mmmm, mmm! I'll also throw in that a mistake often made by me, and a lot of others from what I've seen, is to roll the dough out too thin. Also, make sure the edges will just barely touch when you're putting them in the pan.

                1. re: wabbitslayer

                  they are my son`s favorites, I make him biscuits and gravy bout 3 times a week.
                  I love to use lard and buttermilk. when I have it. Buttermilk doe`nt last very long around me. I dearly love the stuff.

                  1. re: wabbitslayer

                    Two things: first, with White Lily you have plenty of leeway in handling the dough before it even THINKS about getting tough on you. I like to make a game, though, of making a sloppy untidy dough, hardly handling it at all, and still managing to make coherent biscuits! Second, last time I made them I was actually making biscuit-strip dumplings, so I rolled it out to about 1/4". Then, after I'd used only about half the strips and my pot was full, I just put the remaining strips on a cookie sheet and baked them. They were crisp, like extremely rich crackers, and very light and very good.

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      I hate to argue with you, while making myself look like an idiot at the same time, but I CAN make heavy biscuits w/ White lily. That's all I ever use, and I have struggled mightily to make anything that doesn't resemble a hocky puck.

                2. This is just what I am looking for. Can they be used for strawberry shortcakes, maybe with a little sugar on top?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: paprkutr

                    Yes, My mom's strawberry shortcake, which is truly the best in the world, is the above-mentioned biscuit recipes with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of sugar added. She makes a big round disc, bakes that, and then cuts it into wedges with strawberries and whipped cream. Heaven.

                    Also, I live in So Cal, where there is no White Lily. I recently made excellent biscuits using the Gourmet cookbook recipe, substituting half of the butter for lard. I used King Arthur all-purpose flour with some baking powder and a little baking soda. They had the layer thing going on, even. The secret really is not handling the dough too much. Good luck.

                    1. re: vickib

                      Thanks Vickib I don't have immediated access to the White Lily flour, so I was going to order it. Now I'll try with the King Arthurs which is my favorite all purpose flour. All these things help. I am trying hard for that "perfect biscuit", and wll get it with all of your help.

                      1. re: vickib

                        Surfas in Culver City HAD White Lily, and may still have some, but the mill decided it didn't want to ship to the West Coast anymore. If you go to http://www.whitelily.com they'll direct you to a site where you can buy it.

                    2. I too found this thread helpful. Just posting so I can save the tips. Thanks.

                      1. There's a comedian on the XM comedy channel who does a routine about Momma's homemade biscuits. He said you can't git good buscuits without hand-squishing the dough.

                        1. Fine Cooking has a good article in this month's issue. They take a fairly scientific approach to things like biscuits. The pictures looked fabulous...very flaky and mouth-watering. I think the cook said that he cut his butter into small pieces rather than using a processor or pastry cutter, and that made them particularly buttery and flaky. Worth checking out.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: bear

                            You all are so wonderful about sharing your tips and precious recipes and I am so thankful!
                            While trying my hand at homemade ice cream last week, I honestly know that without all your tips and encouragement,it would not of turned out the same.
                            So I do trust your advice and bookmark thread constantly!!

                            Tonight since it is coldish here, I am making a chicken fried steak and cream gravy, baby green beans with grape tomatoes and garlic, and biscuits! And then a raspberry shortcake. Using a Grand Marnier and chamborde as an addition to the saucy berries. With homemade whip cream. I'm going to use one recipe for the dinner biscuits and another one with buttermilk for the dessert biscuits.

                            Watch for my report and keep your fingers crossed!

                          2. Featherweight biscuits are very highrising and fluffy biscuits, easy to make:

                            Shirley Corriher's Touch of Grace biscuits are richer, they are a bit more complicated because the technique is so different I have to spend time reading about it instead of just making them, but they are a must-try for anyone searching for biscuit nirvana:

                            I like cream biscuits for dessert.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: coconutz

                              Angel Flake Biscuits

                              1 package active dry yeast (about .25 ounce)
                              1/4 cup warm water, about 110° F.
                              2 cups warmed buttermilk, about 110° F.
                              5 to 5 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
                              1/4 cup granulated sugar
                              2 teaspoons baking powder
                              1 teaspoon baking soda
                              1 tablespoon salt
                              3/4 cup chilled shortening
                              4 tablespoons chilled butter
                              melted butter
                              Dissolve the yeast in the 1/4 cup of warm water. Set aside.
                              In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some small pea-size pieces of fat.
                              Stir in yeast mixture and buttermilk, blending well. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with floured hands just a few turns. Pat into a round about 1/2-inch thick. Cut with 2- to 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutters. Place cut out biscuits on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover with a dish cloth and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. Bake at 400° for about 15 to 20 minutes. Brush tops with the melted butter while still hot. Makes about 2 to 3 dozen angel biscuits, depending on size.

                              1. re: jackattack

                                jackattack, i've never made yeast leavened biscuits before...
                                how do they compare to baking powder leavened biscuits texture wise?
                                i do know that the combo of butter and shortening is a prerequisite for flakiness...

                              2. re: coconutz

                                There is a cream biscuit recipe with green onion on the epicurious site taht is really good. I made them for a brunch with a butter biscuit as well and these were far more popular. They were so light and very flavorful.

                              3. The recipe you are looking for can be found at the Cooks Illustrated forum. My computer is on the fritz, so I don't have the link, but someone named Crystal Fouch posted it about a year ago. I'm sure you can find it by doing a search.

                                Basically, there are two types of biscuits, drop biscuits and the layered ones, which you say you are looking for. In the CI recipe, they achieve the layers by grating frozen butter, rolling out the dough, laying on the grated butter, folding and then rolling it out again. This is done two or three times, with a long rest in the refrigerator before baking. Kind of like puff pastry.

                                I made these biscuits, and they were simply the best. A little more work, but worth it. As an aside, where I live we don't have crisco, so I used the only substitute for hydrogenated vegetable oil - coconut oil. The biscuits were faintly redolent of coconut, and were delicious. One more tip I read somewhere. You need a sharp object like a biscuit cutter or a tin can to to cut out the biscuits. Use a quick, punching motion, not a slow twist. And don't use a glass. Otherwise, you will seal the sides, and inhibit the biscuits' rising. Alternatively, make square rather than round biscuits. This way you won't have to deal with the trimmings, and can use a sharp knife to make the cuts.

                                Don't make the biscuits too big, or they won't bake through. And, as opposed to other baking recipes, crowd the biscuits fairly tightly together inside a baking tin (don't use a sheet) so that they will rise instead of spreading out. Also, cut and bake the dough cold from the refrigerator or freezer. This seems to help them keep their shape. Again, the discs should be small and fairly flat - maybe half an inch or so. Don't worry, they will rise.

                                And that's it for my biscuit wisdom. Other than to serve with honey butter or homemade jam made with no sugar pectin, which is a snap to make.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: MarkC

                                  very helpful MarkC/ I will check that site out,these biscuits sounds really delicious indeed.I have a square biscuit cutter too/ make since to add the butter into the rolling///

                                  1. re: MarkC

                                    Mark, would you care to start a new topic, with your recipe for homemade jam? I'm already looking forward to Maine blueberries, 'although they're a long way off.

                                    1. re: Pat Hammond

                                      Hi Pat;

                                      The truth is, my method is simplicity itself, and hardly warrants its own thread. Just follow the recipe on the box of no-sugar pectin. Peel and cook the fruit over the stove, add the pectin, wait for it to gel, take it off the heat, cool and refrigerate. Although you can choose to add no sugar, I normally add a quarter of the amount called for in standard recipes, to brighten the flavor and tame some of the tartness.

                                      Most people probably don't make jam because they think you need to be a home canner. That's only true if you want to make lots of jam and store it. But you can make a potful, serve it for a special meal, and put the rest in fridge. It'll keep well like that, even improve over a couple of weeks. It doesn't take much effort at all, and people will think you're a god (or goddess). I made a pot of loquat jam recently, and it was delicious. Tasted like apricots.

                                  2. I have tried many biscuit recipes and the one I found that I like the most because their light and fluffy and my crew really loves them is as follows: 3 c Pioneer mix, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp cream tartar, mix well add 2 Tbsp butter flavored crisco, mix well and then I add just enough buttermilk so that the biscuit mix is slightly sticking to the bowl. I pat out on a floured surface and cut with biscuit cutter top with soft margarine and bake 450 for about 15 mins. Lightly place a piece of foil over biscuits about 3 mins before their done baking to prevent getting to brown.