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Help! My biscuits turn out like hockey pucks!

I am having problems making an edible biscuit. They won't rise, are not flaky and usually have to be thrown in the garbage. I have tried several different recipes and even Bisquik all with the same results. I know I am doing something wrong. Please clue me in!

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  1. Overmixing, perhaps? It's easy to handle the dough too much. Old baking powder? I've also heard that if you use a biscuit cutter, you shouldn't twist as you push down, because that seals the edges and keeps them from rising....I usually just make free-form biscuits instead of rolling and cutting.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kmr

      One other potential issue is not getting the biscuits in the oven quickly enough after shaping (oven should be completely preheated and ready to go). Double acting baking powder activates partially on contact with moisture and partially on contact with heat, so the quicker you get the into the hot oven, the less of the moist part of the rise will be wasted. Let me also put a plug in for Rumford baking powder, which rocks.

      1. re: kmr

        Hey I have the same problem. I used buttermilk and shortening. I used a pastry knife to mix in the shortening, then I added buttermilk and BARELY mixed it together. I pat out the dough and used a biscuit cutter. Yes I twisted it down and put it immediately into a pan and had them touching and into the oven. My baking powder is fine, I replace it every six months regardless. So by reading all your responses, I need to use lard and not twist? I KNOW I'm not overworking the dough.

      2. The problem is definitely over handling the dough. You are losing the layers of butter/flour that make biscuits flaky. The less you mix the better they will be. Once you add the liquid, you should barely mix. It's very much like making pie crust.

        1. One word: Lard. Ok, you can use shortning. But the keys is to use either of these and ice cold water. You don't want to handle the dough much because you don't want the fat to melt.

          Don't roll out the dough. Just pat it gently into shape and cut in a straight up and down motion with a very well dusted cutter. Turning your cutter will "seal" the edges.

          Put the cut biscuits close enough together so they'll touch some when the rise. That way, they'll stop spreading and have no place to go but up.

          Did I mention lard?

          4 Replies
          1. re: bkhuna

            Lard it is. Thanks to all for the tips. I definitely have been over mixing and also turning the biscuit cutter. Not to mention that my daughter rolled the dough within an inch of it's life. Well tomorrow is a new day and I will give it another go.

            1. re: baseballfan

              Yep. It was the rolling. No rolling - pat. Treat the dough like it hurts you to touch it. I've never had a lard biscuit so I can't comment on that, but my grandmother's were just fine (I mean glorious, divine, perfect) using the dreaded Crisco.

            2. re: bkhuna

              I have made biscuits for over 45 yrs. and everything bkhuna told you are straight facts.
              simple as that!!!!!

              1. re: bigjimbray

                There's no joy in life quite like a hot, fluffy buscuit right out of the oven with a little sweet butter.

                Sometimes, the simple pleasures are indeed the best.

            3. preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Move rack to topmost setting.

              Cut the butter or lard into bits and put into the freezer in a small bowl till hard--5 min. or so. Have any other wet ingredients at room temperature.

              Sift dry ingredients together using a hard sifter to ensure even distribution of sugar, salt and b. powder within the flour.

              Cut the fat into the flour mixture till the size of fat peppercorns.

              Working as quickly as possible, add wet ingredients to dry, by tossing together lightly with a fork. Get the dry bits at the bottom. Gather together with the fork.

              Dump the dough out of the bowl onto a flour-dusted bread board or clean counter Press dough into a ball, dust lightly with flour only if sticky, so you can handle it. Knead it just 4 or 5 times till it holds together, and press as described into a 1" high circle.

              Flour your sharp-edged circle cutter and press straight down. Move raw biscuits to an ungreased baking sheet. I like the double layer sheets--they don't overcook the bottoms. Place about 1" apart for slighly crusty sides or closer for softer sides.

              Get the sheet into top shelf of hot oven immediately. Heat+b.powder=rise. Remove from oven when lightly brown on top. Use spatula to move to rack or cloth-lined basket.

              Split and slather with sweet butter and preserve of choice.

              Sometimes I add some parmesan to the flour and serve them with soup for a quick winter dinner.

              1. Sometimes the flour can make biscuits heavier. Strong wheat flours, flour high in gluten can easily be overworked, activating the gluten. Soft wheat flour is sold particularly in the south to make light and flaky biscuits. So don't use bread flour for biscuits.

                1. I hate messing with lard or solid shortening when making biscuits. I
                  also hate cleaning the measuring cups smeared with lard or solid
                  shortening. Finally, I hate dealing with trying to roll out sticky
                  dough. It sticks to my hands, the rolling pin, the board, etc. You
                  have to add more flour to the bread board, making another mess.

                  This recipe avoids all of that by using canola oil as a shortening.
                  The dough in this recipe is not sticky. It's easy to handle. I don't
                  even use a rolling pin. I just press it flat with my hands. I never
                  seem to have buttermilk on hand. This recipe uses milk and vinegar as
                  a substitute. I always have those on hand.

                  Even with those shortcuts this recipe makes flaky delicious biscuits.
                  Give it a try.

                  I call them No Doh! Biscuits

                  3 cups all purpose flour
                  4 teaspoons baking powder
                  3 teaspoons granulated sugar
                  3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
                  3/4 teaspoon salt

                  1/2 cup canola oil
                  3/4 cup milk
                  1 Tablespoon distilled vinegar

                  Preheat oven to 400 F.

                  Measure flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar and salt into a stand mixer.
                  Mix on low for 15-seconds.

                  With mixer on low, add canola oil slowly to dry ingredients. Set mixer speed to medium and mix for 30-seconds or until mixture looks like dry cornmeal.

                  Stir vinegar into milk. Add milk/vinegar to flour mixture and mix on medium for
                  15-seconds.

                  Turn dough out onto bread board and knead several times. Roll or press dough out to
                  1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness.

                  Cut with biscuit cutter and place on baking sheet. Bake on middle oven rack at 400 F. for 20-minutes. Makes 1-dozen, 2-1/2 inch diameter biscuits.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Antilope

                    Sounds good Antilope. Do you think it would be okay to add some berries to this mix?

                    1. One suggestion I'd add is to use frozen butter and grate it into your flour. I got this tip from someone on this board (I can't remember who, but thanks!), and it works like a charm. The coarse side of a box grater is a good size to use. And you can use the flour in the bowl to loosen any pieces of butter that stick to the grater. Keep dipping your fingertips in the flour and you won't have a mess.

                      Otherwise, I agree with the others about how you can't overmix!

                      1. Found this recipe today and tried it. Not flaky but wonderfully soft (not doughy) good.
                        4TBLS mayo
                        2C self rising flour (soft wheat) I had and used the white worked very good
                        2C milk
                        Heat oven to 450 degrees Bake 7-9 minutes
                        Combine all ingredients then toss together with a fork. Drop by the spoonful onto a baking sheet (I sprayed mine with Crisco Spray).
                        The husband liked them with just some jam on them. Very good recipe and so easy

                        1. Buy a ticket to Ireland, go to Doolin and stay with Maeve in Church House, and ask her to teach you how to make scones. Her scone method translates to biscuits. Fixed mine right up!