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Layers in Homemade Biscuits

s
sandylc Feb 22, 2012 11:52 AM

I have noticed a new thing in recent years - people are working to put layers into their homemade biscuits! This is a new thing to me; my grandmother certainly never tried to laminate her biscuit dough! Do we come to this via TV commercials for a certain tube-popping product? Or did my family just not know how to make biscuits correctly? I don't see any layering going on in older cookbooks (actually, I don't know if I've ever seen it in newer ones, either) - is this an internet recipe phenom? The idea of laminating biscuits a bit sounds very good - I just wonder where/when it came from - ? Do you all out there laminate your biscuits, or better yet, expect them to come apart in layers?

  1. alkapal Feb 22, 2012 01:11 PM

    never had layers in my family's southern biscuits. only layers i've seen are in the pop-up pillsbury ones.

    1. c
      CanadaGirl Feb 22, 2012 01:15 PM

      I expect biscuits (or tea biscuits as we call them) to be tender and slightly crumbly, not layered.

      1. paulj Feb 22, 2012 01:24 PM

        It may be both old and new.

        Prior to baking powder, there were 'beaten biscuits' where the dough was folded, beaten flat, and folded again and again. And some biscuit instructions call for working the fat in by pressing it into little disks, which might produce some flakiness. But the first place I saw instructions to fold and roll the biscuit dough multiple times was in Ruhlman's Ratios book. He lets the dough rest, to relax some the gluten that develops with this working.
        http://saltandfat.com/post/552363084/...

        I've also come across the fold and roll idea in some olive oil biscuit recipes. One time when I made those I sprinkled grated cheese between layers, which added a nice flavor. I learned that it is best to cut off any folded edges, because they limit the rise.

        There's a trade off between the interesting texture of these layers, and the tenderness of lightly worked biscuits.

        1. Uncle Bob Feb 22, 2012 01:36 PM

          Layered Homemade biscuits?? ~ Heaven to Betsy No! ~ Not in my South!

          1. chowser Feb 22, 2012 01:38 PM

            If you look at Best Recipe (Cooks Illustrated), there are two versions of biscuits, one laminated, one not. Maybe the laminated one is from those pop and fresh cannisters with biscuits that have layers? I like both versions, btw. The laminated one when we're just eating biscuits, the other when we're putting gravy over them (in general but I made the latter for just eating, too).

            1. Will Owen Feb 22, 2012 04:27 PM

              I suspect the lamination in factory biscuits is due to the production process, with the fat set between layers of dough instead of being cut into the dry ingredients. It's a production-based strategy, but it appears that someone has decided to make a virtue out of the end result and encourage its duplication in the home kitchen. Interesting! Right up there with recipes for creating your own Twinkies and Pop-Tarts.

              1. w
                wyogal Feb 22, 2012 04:32 PM

                I was staying with some friends of my son's for a triathalon, and the mom of the house was famous for her biscuits. After rolling (or patting) them out, she buttered the dough, then folded it, and proceeded to cut the biscuits.
                They are easy to pull apart, in half. She only did it once, not more than two layers, a top and a bottom.

                1 Reply
                1. re: wyogal
                  chefj Feb 22, 2012 05:21 PM

                  I have seen a similar thing done where softened butter was spread on the rolled out dough and then given a book fold. Beautiful and delicious layered results.

                2. k
                  Kelli2006 Feb 22, 2012 09:10 PM

                  I prefer the layered biscuits, escpeilly for dinner but for breakfast either layered or non-layered works. The non-layered biscuits are better for topping with gravy, but a layered biscuit makes a better sausage, cheese egg sandwich.

                  1. j
                    jvanderh Feb 23, 2012 04:35 AM

                    So, is it just an urban legend that you can get flaky biscuits without folding the dough?

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: jvanderh
                      chowser Feb 23, 2012 05:10 AM

                      You can get flaky biscuits, like flaky pie crust, without folding the dough but if you want pull apart layers, like the pop and fresh type, you need to fold. The "flakiness" comes from the butter/fat melting between the layers when baking and is small. But, if you don't fold, you won't be able to pull them apart in big sheets but have to tear it.

                      1. re: chowser
                        j
                        jvanderh Feb 23, 2012 05:25 AM

                        That's sad :-(

                        1. re: jvanderh
                          chowser Feb 23, 2012 05:47 AM

                          Sad?

                          1. re: chowser
                            j
                            jvanderh Feb 23, 2012 07:23 AM

                            I like those pull-apart biscuits! I was under the impression that if I got the dough just right, they would separate into layers like that by themselves.

                            1. re: jvanderh
                              w
                              wyogal Feb 23, 2012 07:29 AM

                              There is a quick puff pastry method out there that kind of does that, smearing large pieces of butter into the flour.
                              But, to get the pull apart biscuit, just spread the rolled out dough with butter, fold, roll, fold, roll. One can chill in between rolls and folds, like with croissant or puff pastry. It only takes a couple of times of rolling and folding to get lots of layers (number of layers grow exponentially). Just be gentle with the dough.

                              1. re: wyogal
                                j
                                jvanderh Feb 23, 2012 08:17 AM

                                Yeah- I've found that folding that many times requires so much extra flour that the biscuits come out dry.

                                1. re: jvanderh
                                  w
                                  wyogal Feb 23, 2012 08:24 AM

                                  Then don't use so much flour. Never a problem for me. I don't add flour to each turn.

                                  1. re: jvanderh
                                    s
                                    sandylc Feb 23, 2012 09:32 AM

                                    If you need the extra flour for rolling, just use a pastry brush to brush it back off before you do the folding.

                                    1. re: jvanderh
                                      k
                                      Kelli2006 Feb 23, 2012 10:44 AM

                                      You're doing it wrong if the folded biscuits come out dry. I use Peter Reinharts buttermilk buiscuit recipe and the is melted butter seeping on the sheet pan as they bake. It only takes a double book fold to achive maximum flakiness.

                                      1. re: Kelli2006
                                        j
                                        jvanderh Feb 23, 2012 11:43 AM

                                        If it's in the Breadbaker's Apprentice, I'll give it a shot.

                          2. re: jvanderh
                            alkapal Feb 23, 2012 05:34 AM

                            flaky pie crust is not like flaky biscuits -- biscuits are fluffier. and the layered biscuits are not "flaky."

                            1. re: jvanderh
                              danna Feb 23, 2012 08:47 AM

                              although the memories are getting fuzzy *sniff*, I recall my grandmother's biscuits , when the y were right out of the oven, opened up w/ a little bit of the layering effect. I don't recall seeing her fold the biscuits after patting out. I assume it was just the randomness of the bits of shortening that weren't totally incorporated, combined with steam, that allowed them to separate a little bit.

                            2. happybellynh Feb 23, 2012 09:33 AM

                              My favorite buttermilk biscuit recipe is from a cookbook called Yankee Hill-Country Cooking, which I inherited when my husband's grandmother passed (with her notes in it... awesome heirloom!). The recipe calls for kneading lightly. When I made them the first time, the kneading left some light layers in it through no special effort of my own. And they're great- but not the same fluffy texture as southern biscuits. This is a cookbook from the 40's, so perhaps folds were at least present in Yankee biscuits back then?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: happybellynh
                                paulj Feb 23, 2012 09:45 AM

                                I vaguely recall reading about some Yankee v Southern divide over biscuit history and styles, though the only thing I can find off hand is that around the time that baking powder biscuits developed (late 19c), the regional flour in the South was soft winter wheat, while the North had harder varieties (either locally grown, or shipped from Kansas). You still see that in the difference between White Lily flour and King Arthur AP. Truly light fluffy biscuits need the softer, low gluten flour.

                                1. re: paulj
                                  k
                                  kengk Feb 23, 2012 02:49 PM

                                  Being from Georgia, my family always made biscuits with White Lily SR flour. Mom (and myself) would occasionally use Bisquick which does make a decent biscuit.

                                  I recently added a tin of Bakewell Cream to my King Arthur order and decided to make myself some "yankee" biscuits. Used King Arthur AP flour and the recipe from KA.

                                  I have to say that those New England style biscuits are right tasty.

                                  The older generations,on my mom's side of the family, biscuits where about the size of two Ritz crackers stacked up. Just barely thick enough to be able to cut in half to apply butter.

                                  On my dad's side, they were cat heads about two inches thick.

                              2. j
                                JudiAU Feb 23, 2012 08:44 PM

                                Ah, lard. Yes my grandmother's biscuit had a layered effect. But I think the modern reason is those nasty pre made ones.

                                1. iL Divo Feb 29, 2012 10:40 AM

                                  " I just wonder where/when it came from - ? Do you all out there laminate your biscuits, or better yet, expect them to come apart in layers?" < simply no.....but....

                                  darn those canned/tube/"pop open sharply on the kitchen counter layer things" in deli/dairy section that announce boldly on their green (< dare I say) shiny packaging (layer biscuits) complete with picture.

                                  let's face it many don't bake at all. maybe that's what some think biscuits are. < layered.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: iL Divo
                                    paulj Feb 29, 2012 10:53 AM

                                    What's wrong with those canned biscuits?

                                    I've had biscuits all my life, starting with the ones my mom made with oil. I've made the Touch-of-Grace ones. I've made Ruhlman's 312 ('Chicago') ones; tasty layered olive oil ones. Today's were oatmeal scones. And I also like the canned ones, and ones made from a mix (especially when baked in camp in a dutch oven). At one time I was especially partial to the buttery Popeye's ones. They all have a place on my table.

                                    1. re: paulj
                                      s
                                      sandylc Feb 29, 2012 11:59 AM

                                      You have a lot of biscuit experience.....EXCEPT for good ol' Southern ones! Touch-of-Grace ones - close, but not quite. Oil? NEVER. Ruhlman's? NO. Popeye's? NO. Scones? NO. Mixes? NO. Canned ones? NO.

                                      Not that there is ANYTHING AT ALL wrong with most of the above. It's just that I feel bad that you might not have had the real thing!

                                  2. d
                                    Daddakamabb Oct 24, 2013 05:53 AM

                                    In Maryland recipes for beaten biscuits are essentially the same as layered biscuits.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Daddakamabb
                                      chefj Oct 24, 2013 05:03 PM

                                      None of the versions I have made or seen are produced even remotely the same.
                                      What are you calling a Beaten Biscuit?

                                    2. Becca Porter Oct 24, 2013 07:01 AM

                                      Homesick Texan's amazing biscuits are the closest thing I'd want to a flaky biscuit. It is all about how you treat the dough....no lamination necessary. Perfect biscuits.

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