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Mar 19, 2012 10:23 AM

The Perfect Biscuit - what are your secrets to make it happen?

I don't care if it is buttermilk, sour cream, baking powder or what, I just want to eat a perfect biscuit.

Can't you just smell them now...all warm & slathered in hot butter, dripping with homemade preserves, homemade sausage patties & a bright sunny egg just waiting while you take one more sip of coffee before partaking of the perfect combination?

The ingredients are few, but the techniques are is time to reveal your secrets.

Is it the it the it the it the oven temp? Is it Grandpa's favorite recipe? The world needs to know these things. Life is much better after eating a perfect biscuit.

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  1. You'll get dozens of answers..... so I'll be brief.....

    For me it's White Lily Flour or I don't eat/make biscuits!

    Have Fun!

    18 Replies
    1. re: Uncle Bob

      White Lily Flour...I have read a lot about using that flour to bake with...unfortunately I do not have access to it in my area...sure wish I did though...sounds like that it may be one ot the "secrets" to a good biscuit.

        1. re: Uncle Bob

          Smucker's link...thanks. Many years ago I was given a gift box from Knott's Berry had a package of biscuit mix that was to die for...ever since I ate those I have been on the quest for a recipe I could make from scratch that tasted like them. Well, from your link, looks like Knott's is owned by Smucker's & White Lily....yep, it is the flour...have ordered some of that flour so I can have a fighting chance to make those babies.

          1. re: cstout

            Making decent biscuits has been a goal of mine for years.

            I’ve arrived, in my humble opinion, at “decent”.

            I’m now of the opinion that White Lily is the required ingredient to take things to the next level.

            This despite the use of mixed AP and cake flours, at the suggestion of “Southern Biscuits” by Nathalie Dupree.

            What held me back, as a Northern Boy, was the perception that I’d be paying through the nose to mail-order from Smuckers.

            I was WRONG! To get four 5-pound packages delivered calculates to only 40 cents per ounce. This compares to 50 to 60 cents per ounce in the local stores.

            I’m sure our supply/demand curve, for self-rising flour, is different up here.

            Here’s hoping that this is a biscuit epiphany!

            1. re: Monch

              Monch, yes, I sure hope the White Lily flour will be the answer. Do you use WL to bake other things with?

              1. re: cstout

                I have not ever used WL for anything...alas.

                I first heard of them during the Smuckers takeover and the hand-wringing about the change in the location of the mill.

                Never did anything about it...because I'm cheap...thought the cost was going to be prohibitive.

                NOW know it's a bargain, it gets delivered right to my door, and this mis-born Southern boy gets to try a culinary icon....

                Just for fun, I'm going to put Duke's mayo on my first WL biscuit...listen to my arteries harden...and curse my northern birth! (Mail order the Duke's, also.)

                1. re: Monch

                  Monch, yes it is best to save that WL flour just for those biscuits...can't wait to receive mine in the mail.

                  I am wanting to conquer a few food items in my life & biscuits are right there at the top of the list.

                  Wondering if WL would improve the making of these items..just in case I ever have an abundant supply of WL...

                  quick breads
                  pie crust

                2. re: cstout

                  < Do you use WL to bake other things with?>

                  Absolutely! cakes, pie crust, rugulach, hamantaschen... anything requiring a tender dough.

                  1. re: ChefJune

                    20 pounds of White Lily Self-Rising flour sitting on the desk.

                    Just delivered to Madison, Wisconsin!

                    It is bicuit time tomorrow morning!!!!

                    1. re: Monch

                      OK, gang.

                      Made my first batch, with White Lily, and I have to say I'm a believer. These are the best, lighest, most tender biscuits I've ever turned out. Made them just as per the recipe on the bag and didn't alter my handling techniques one bit.

                      There will be White Lily in the house from now on!

                      1. re: Monch

                        Monch....absolutely gorgeous...but there is only one didn't make enough for everybody!!! Did the recipe yield 6 biscuits? Did you bake them on a cast iron skillet or what??? Every detail please, so we can do that too. Congratulations!

                        1. re: cstout


                          I doubled the recipe and got exactly twelve biscuits. Had to roll out the scraps to get the last five, but I by-God got the twelve I was promised.

                          I HAVE to remember to religiously flour the cutter and NOT twist the damn thing! I just tossed them on commercial grade half sheet cookie sheets lined with Silpats. I also use an oversized Silpat as my bench. Gotta remember to keep that bad-boy well floured.

                          Cut the frozen...yup, I keep my Crisco sticks in the freezer..Crisco into the flour. Hit the mixture with 1 1/3 cup of buttermilk, quickly mixed with spoonula. It needed more milk, so hit it with probably another 1/4 cup....eyeballed that.

                          Then quickly onto the floured Silpat. Dust the old hands well, with AP flour and hit the ball with a bit, also. Just hand-patted out to probably 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick and started cutting.

                          Ten minutes at 500 and viola. Should have spread the racks, vertically, more though. The bottom pan was too close to the rack above....those were the scrap-made biscuits and I did NOT photograph them.

                          A little butter, and my tastebuds were humming!

                          Honestly, I was NOT expecting the significant difference...hoping...but was skeptical. I should not have been...and should have been buying White Lily from the beginning!

                          Let's keep these traditions alive, folks!

                          1. re: Monch

                            Lovely! Wow--so WL really does make a big difference!

                        2. re: Monch

                          One more tip from yer Old Uncle...Melt some butter to brush on the tops when you take them out of the oven...Don't be stingy! lay it on!!

                          1. re: Uncle Bob

                            I saw them do that in the side window of a Popeye's years ago. But I suspect my homemade biscuits are a lot healthier than the ones I used to get from them.

                            1. re: paulj

                              Healthy?....What the hell is that when you/re eating biscuits???? Hahahahaha!!

                              Have Fun & Enjoy!

                              1. re: paulj

                                gives 240 calories for 60gm biscuit, 14g of fat, half the calories.

                                biscuits 'from recipe', 212 calories, 9.8 gm fat (also lower sodium).
                                The difference is quite as significant as I thought, but it's still there. Of course the fat level in recipes varies.

              2. re: cstout

                costco has pastry flour... it's what you want

            2. Love. It's all about the love.
              Thant, and minimal handling, butter, and a good flour.

              9 Replies
              1. re: wyogal

                About love, wyogal...I have kissed my biscuits, sang to them & prayed to the biscuit gods to just give me one batch of good biscuits..used KA flour & gently coaxed them into the pan...but biscuits be dam****got any other ideas???.

                1. re: cstout

                  Just barely mix them, that's about it. and it's not about loving the biscuits.

                  1. re: wyogal

                    Ya know it really does involve a certain "touch" that can't be taught, and is hard to explain....By the time the OP is on the third hundred pounds of flour...they will be mo betta!

                    1. re: Uncle Bob

                      Yep, can't really explain it. One does go through lots of tough biscuits to begin with!

                      1. re: wyogal

                        Wyogal and Uncle Bob, I'm going to begin with Biscuit Experimentation 2012 myself soon. Are biscuits similar to muffins in handling i.e. more handling = denser biscuits and vice-versa? Thanks!

                        1. re: gbleddynn

                          gbleddynn: the less you handle the biscuit dough the lighter the biscuits. You don't want to knead heavily.

                      2. re: Uncle Bob

                        OK folks, I sure hope I don't have to go through all 8 bags of the WL flour (when it finally gets here) to make some decent biscuits. I am making notes on all these tidbits of advice from everyone, so I feel pretty confident I will be able to post my own show & tell & puff up with pride like one of those biscuits!!

                      3. re: wyogal

                        Yep, barely mixing is the trick I learned from my Nana over here as well - and good butter. But the barely mixing and not touching much is the thing that makes the texture perfect.

                    2. re: wyogal

                      And a moist dough. Not too much flour!

                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                        loved the link to food52...never visited that site before...again White Lily flour was mentioned. Where has this product been all my life?

                        Do you the the book Bakewise or Cookwise..sounds like those would be great books?

                        1. re: cstout

                          Generally in the South, I think.

                          I have Cookwise, and I think it's a wonderful book: SC explains the science behind a lot of cooking, but in a very approachable way, and offers solutions to many common cooking "problems"--and shares many good recipes.

                          The food52 site is another great resource, with fabulous recipes.

                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                            food52, definately a place where I shall visit often, thanks to you. Cookwise is in the cart as we speak. Thanks.

                        2. re: nomadchowwoman

                          that's a fun read and photo display.
                          the idea seems fun too to take a wet glob and toss it in flour and let the flour run between your fingers.
                          may be a good experiment to see how it works, as to me, I am still of the school that gramma's hands always did best

                          1. re: iL Divo

                            The dough is really wet and therefore somewhat tricky, but the biscuits come out great. I had never made good biscuits, only really leaden ones. But I'm sure my grandmother's touch was more "gracefu" too!

                          2. re: nomadchowwoman

                            I have 2 coveted bags of White Lily flour and 2 bags of White Lily self rising flour so tonight I'll try this one and one of the recipes I find for Cat Head biscuits also.. love doing comparisons, one'll go in top oven while the other'll go in bottom. we'll see who wins according to hubby and son. I'll have son make the SC's grace biscuits, he's good with being a gentle handler.

                            since he's here and away from home, after dinner he can take home the leftover biscuits for later.


                            1. re: iL Divo

                              Cat Head biscuits...this biscuit mania is making me swoon with starvation. thanks for the links...OMG!

                          3. With many opinions regarding flour & butter, I have found that practice & lots of it makes a huge difference. You'll find which ingredients you prefer. And if you practice making them at least 2 times each week, you'll discover how to just whip them up & have them on the table in 20 minutes & love them every time.

                            FWIW, I love White Lily flour & find it makes excellent cakes & biscuits. I don't always have it, so I use King Arthur with great results.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: tall sarah

                              Yes, making something regularly is key in all baking....wish I had a bunch of people to make things for so I could get a lot of practice. Can the biscuits be flash frozen before baking? Perhaps they would not taste as good that way. Besides, as you said 20 minutes & you have biscuits...I am so hungry for one right now. Thanks.

                              1. re: tall sarah

                                the only way I can get White Lily is by doing some serious driving. we've been fortunate to find it in markets on our jaunts, but it's not a southern California staple. another way to put it is it's impossible to get here, unless someone can share a source. ordering by mail is the only option for me unless again, hubby takes the wife on a journey.

                                1. re: iL Divo

                                  Il Divo: also in so. CA--what serious driving location is closest for WL (ex-KY girl here who sorely misses WL)? Heck , we drive 300+ miles to Yuma just for a Cracker Barrel meal, so I'm willing to drive further for WL.

                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                    If you ever make to to culver city. Surfas is not carrying White Lily

                                  2. re: tall sarah

                                    All this flour talk is making me crazy because they all seem to be self-raising flours which I have never seen for sale in Canada. We just add a ton of levening.

                                    1. re: dianne0712

                                      If you can't get white lilly, try using pastry flour. I don't think self rising is necessary, I'd rather add my own levening.

                                      1. re: dianne0712

                                        No need for self rising flour, there are plenty of recipes out there that do not call for self rising flour. Just go for it & make some biscuits. The sooner you get your hands covered with the flour, the sooner you will be tasting that biscuit!!

                                        1. re: cstout

                                          I use "regular" White Lily. Not self-rising. would rather add my own salt and leavening. Plus, then I don't need another flour for cakes etc.

                                    2. White Lily flour or, failing that, a 3-1 ratio of pastry flour to all purpose. 50-50 ratio of butter & shortening, or 100% lard if its good and fresh. Cut so the diameter is no more than 4X the thickness (i prefer 3x ratio)

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: rjbh20

                                        rjbh20...ratios....geez..where is the "love" in this recipe...just kidding...Thank you so much for the ratio concept...100per cent lard would be wonderful. Do you make them with lard??

                                          1. re: cstout

                                            I use lard occasionally, but am not wild about the commercially rendered hydrogenated stuff (Armour or Hormel i think -- comes in a green package) and don't often have the good fresh variety around. Usually i go the butter + Crisco route.

                                            As to the ratios, cooking is art, baking is science (though biscuit is about as forgiving as anything).