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).
|2 cups flour||mix||cut into pea size||mix||roll out and cut||bake at 425°F until golden|
|1 Tbs. baking powder|
|1/4 tsp. salt|
|6 Tbs. butter, cold|
|3/4 cup milk|
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.