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Sunday, June 27, 2004

Recipe File: Basic Biscuits

This is probably the simplest biscuit recipe that I know. It's pretty fast to throw together and I like to top my chicken pot pies with this dough.

Set aside 2 cups all purpose flour in a large mixing bowl. Prepare 6 tablespoons cold butter, 3/4 cup milk, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Then, using a pastry cutter (shown on left), a pair of knives, a spoon, or your hands, cut the butter into the flour. Basically, cut the butter and mix with flour to coat and separate the pieces. Continue until you get pea sized pieces of butter. It is important that the butter be cold for this process and not begin to melt. If it starts to get a little mushy, you can slip it into the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm back up a bit before continuing.

Pour the milk in and mix gently with a spatula. We're not looking for a kneading action her, just a gently mix. (Kneading will produce gluten which will make the biscuit bread like instead of light and flaky.) Using your hands, form the dough into a ball once the milk has been evenly distributed through the dough. You might need to use a kneading action to get it into a managable shape and to remove some dough fromt eh sides of your container, but try not to knead too much.

Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper or clean surface and roll out into a large sheet about 1/4 in. in thickness. Use a cup or biscuit cutter to cut rounds out of the dough. Do not twist the cup or cutter (unless you have already cut all the way through). Twisting will result in uneven or failed rising. Usually it's a good idea to press the top of the biscuit down a little or else you will get biscuits with rounded tops.

Now, biscuit placement is key to getting good rise out of the biscuits. Place the biscuit dough circles into two 9" cake rounds or onto a half sheet pan. Have the biscuits just touching. This should give enough air between the biscuits to allow even heating, but not so much space that the biscuits spread out when they rise. Bake in a 425°F oven until golden (about 15 minutes).

Basic Biscuits
2 cups flourmixcut into pea sizemixroll out and cutbake at 425°F until golden
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. butter, cold
3/4 cup milk
Copyright Michael Chu 2004
Perhaps this is a good time to discuss baking pans with respect to biscuits. The use of a nonstick baking pan will result in your biscuit bottoms turning black while the tops are not yet golden. Aluminum foil and dark metal pans often have the same affect. Probably the best pan to use for biscuits is a gray aluminum pan.

posted by Michael Chu @ 6/27/2004 01:02:51 AM   16 comments
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At 7:35 PM, TheSims said...

FYI: "Southern Biscuits" like my mother-in-law makes start with crisco and are best topped with "Cane Syrup" or home made jellies.

At 10:06 PM, Anonymous said...

If you add 1/4 cup of milk, you can make "drop biscuits" (i.e., without kneading or rolling), just drop lumps onto the pan.

At 3:42 PM, Anonymous said...

For non-Americans: - these are also known as scones! They taste especially yummy with whipped cream and raspberry jam.
Or else to make them savoury put lots of cheese in the mixture.

At 3:48 AM, Anonymous said...

this is hilarious
to me a biscuit is a crunchy kind of cookie. that's why I love this site from the other end of the world we see how different recipies morph into different names morph into something delicious. thankyou Aussie

At 10:14 PM, Anonymous said...

No, these are not scones. My wife makes both biscuits and scones from scratch, and they are very different. I'm sure that the difference is mostly in the proportions, and perhaps an ingredient or two, but if I had a biscuit with whipped cream on top, I would be very disappointed.

At 8:32 PM, Anonymous said...

these worked great. i didn't knead them, or roll them out. i just shaped them with my hands and tucked them into a baking pan because I don't have a cookie sheet right now. they disappeared faster than the hot cakes.

At 8:32 AM, Anonymous said...

Alton Brown says that if you can master a basic american biscuit recipe, you will have no trouble learning to makes scones and shortbreads. For a more authentic southern taste and more fluff in the biscuit, use buttermilk in place of the regular milk. Cane syrup is also known as surguhm in some areas. It is similiar to molasses but not as dark and smokey.

At 10:02 AM, Anonymous said...

Dont want the bottom of your cookies to burn???
You simply have to take about any type of baking pan and sheet the bottom (underneath) with one or two layer of aluminum foil. It will reflect the heat and isolate substancially the bottom of your precious jewels. This works amazingly well... ( Mandatory note: For econergic purpose I suggest to always reuse the same aluminum, since aluminum is solid electricity and that electricity is scarce, well not here in Quebec, but.... (we even heat our dwellings with electricity, but thats another story))

At 12:58 PM, Anonymous said...

Scones include sugar and currants in their ingredients. They aren't too easy to find in KY bakeries so I bake my own.

At 8:01 PM, Anonymous said...

I love southern homemade, Biscuits are not suppose to have jelly, sugar or anything else on them, they are suppose to be fluffy, buttery, and golden brown. To sop up your gravy and mashed potatoes when your eating that southern fried chicken. Thats how you eat a southern Biscuits

At 9:01 AM, Anonymous said...

As a long time Southern biscuit maker, I have to add that biscuits are used in many different ways. At dinner, like the previous comment. But at breakfast, under sausage gravy which is best made with ham sausage and plenty of cracked pepper. But for those with a sweet tooth there is nothing better than a good jam or preserves or homemade applebutter (this way often with prime rib.) Traditional strawberry shortcake is made with sweet biscuits (just add sugar and you can brush with cream, sprinkle with sugar before baking) split and filled with sugared sliced strawberries and whipped cream. These days I make my biscuits with heavy cream instead of shortening (recipe on FoodTV for Cream Biscuits.) Easier and just as tasty. If I was in the UK I would definitely use clotted cream to both make and top!

At 5:44 PM, Fla said...

These scones this bitch put on this web-site made me sick as hell! Because of the ammounts of milk (3/4 cup), the outrageously ammounts of milk required made me shoot Old Faithful out of my ass. It felt like 450 degrees of boiling water shooting brown out. Now, because of you I have to get new drapes. And $20 worth of Preperation H.

THANKS A LOT!!!!!!!!!!!!

At 11:19 AM, Marvi said...

Could margarine be used as a substitute for the butter? My friend is stubbornly health conscious and I know she'll know I put butter in these.

And to Fla: That's really REALLY unfortunate, my friend. Condolences for your arse.

At 11:31 AM, Michael Chu said...

You should be able to substitute the butter with margarine, but if your friend wants you to do it for health reasons, then you're friend is seriously misguided. If you must use margarine, try to use margarines with as little trans fats as possible.

At 8:45 PM, Anonymous said...

Actually, the British use of the word biscuit is very meaningful, as it comes from the Latin panis biscotus, or "bread twice cooked,"

You yanks call them cookies.

To make them crisp the practice was to lightly cook them (not brown) let them cool and the next day cook them again to brown them up. This practise produces by far the best biscuits (Cookies), once tried its hard to go back to the single cooking method.

You Yanks removed sugar from scones and call them biscuits, very curious indeed. I have cooked for Americans and have learnt to appreciate Southern soul food, It was a steep learning curve. but boiled intestines was the pits LOL

But you lot really know how to put on a BBQ.

At 8:56 AM, Anonymous said...

A biscuits a biscuit the world around. A good biscuit depends a lot on the patience and attitude of the cook. Yes attitude. Sometimes we get what we expect.


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