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Biscuit Dough Texture

I consider myself to be a pretty good baker, but biscuits are my nemesis. I've tried recipes from many sources, including the normally reliable Joy of Cooking, but every time I end up the mixing stage with a dough that looks a lot like cookie dough - thick enough to hold in a shape but still sticky. I always end up adding a bunch more flour just to get it pliable enough to roll and cut, which inevitably results in a starchier, less buttery biscuit than what I have in mind.

Is this just a humidity thing (I live in the tropics) or is biscuit dough supposed to be that wet? If the latter, how do you get it in biscuit form without half of it sticking to your work surface? Thanks in advance.

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  1. Try drop biscuits instead? I never roll out biscuit dough--I either drop it or scoop it out and pat it into a biscuit shape. Brush some melted butter on top and call it done!

    1. Are you using butter or shortening? If you're in the tropics where it's hot and humid, butter would be harder to work with than shortening. You want it as cold as possible but I can imagine butter starting to melt almost immediately.

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        1. Have you tried chilling the flour?

          1. Biscuit dough should be wet and sticky. Put plenty of flour on your counter to roll it out but don't work it into the dough.

            6 Replies
            1. re: kengk

              This one. Gently plop your wet dough onto a generously floured board and flour the top, then pat it gently out to an even thickness. Then cut out your biscuits with a floured cutter. Don't work more flour into it; leave it on the surface. You can toss your biscuits in the air a bit the shake off the excess after cutting them. If you want to get fancy and add folds, you can pick up the very floured mass and toss it a bit in your hands to get rid of the excess, then put it back down and fold it like a letter. Pat back out and cut out.

              1. re: sandylc

                Close.
                Pat out your biscuit dough (don't roll it) and then bifold it a few time. It will produce nice, flaky biscuits.

                One other thing, I've found the best way to cut the fat into the flour is with your fingers. I don't know why but it just makes for a nicer texture. Just keep at it until your flour/fat mixture looks like white cornmeal.

                I married a southern girl and she thinks my biscuits are the best she's had. It's Alton Brown's Southern Biscuits recipe.

                DT

                1. re: Davwud

                  His recipe is very close to mine. The main difference is that I would never put shortening in my biscuits.

                  1. re: sandylc

                    FWIW, I use lard, not shortening.

                    I know a few people who claim to make excellent biscuits and if they'll show me their recipe, it's quite close.

                    DT

                    1. re: Davwud

                      Lard is good. I use butter, as non-hydrogentated lard is difficult to find 'round here.

                      Yeah, I really don't think that biscuits are rocket science.

                      1. re: Davwud

                        Glad to see somebody else going 'old school'. For people considering lard DON"T USE lard sold on shelves in grocery stores that is solid at room temperature - it's treated: hydrogenated to be solid and tastes awful.

                        Make your own. When I cook pork roasts etc I trim off fat cap and render slowly, filter and freeze. Keeps forever in freezer. Use the cracklins for cornbread.

                        I agree - too much flour in most biscuits. Wet, sticky dough is fine. Good advice here: pat out dough w/ a little flour on top and bottom. Or pinch and hand pat. Cut out and place in very heated, small cast iron skillet, brush tops w/butter and bake in very hot oven. This is where a small, hot toaster oven is great (mine is Breville) especially in the South - no need to heat the whole kitchen.

                        Flour really makes the difference - White Lily or another southern, soft wheat flour. If not using a heated skillet I use an 8 or 9 inch heavy, dark cake pan well buttered and let them sit for 10-15 minutes before baking at 425-450. That quick rest lets rising start.

                        To get comfortable I made biscuits at least 3x a week for about a month - got easier and faster every time. The hands and eyes learn; even the 'mistakes' were delicious.

                        Really good info here from the C'hounds.
                        kariin