Baking Biscuits: Tips and Tricks

Reader Contribution by April Freeman
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I’ve had plenty of people ask me how to make good biscuits.

My answer is usually something like this: “Make lots of lousy biscuits.”

Seriously. To get the knack for making biscuits, you just have to do it over and over. You’ll make several batches of really terrible biscuits. Then, it’ll be lots and lots of mediocre biscuits. Eventually, you’ll get the hang of it, and your biscuits will be decent.

Keep at it for several years after that and you will make superb biscuits.

It took me about 10 years to perfect my biscuit recipe. At first, my family ate some really terrible biscuits. For awhile, I gave up and just bought canned or frozen biscuits. However, as our family grew, I figured that I needed to learn to bake them from scratch. Otherwise, there were just never enough to go around.

So I kept at it and finally got the knack. Here are my secrets to good biscuits.

1. Real, full-fat buttermilk

Fattening stuff, but nobody eats a biscuit as diet food. It gives the biscuits a wonderfully tender texture and helps the leaveners rise better.

2. Real butter

Biscuits just aren’t the same without real butter. Shortening or margarine can do in a pinch, but real butter is the way to go for excellent biscuits.

3. Pastry Blender

This little gadget cuts the fat into the dry ingredients quickly and easily. You can use a fork, but a pastry blender is definitely worth the 4 bucks you’ll pay for it if you plan on making lots of biscuits.

4. Cast-iron skillet

There’s nothing like the texture of a homemade biscuit baked in a cast-iron pan. The outside of the biscuit will be slightly crusty and the insides will be steamy-soft and flaky.

5. Be gentle

Biscuit dough needs a gentle touch. Save your pounding for yeast doughs. Gentle handling of biscuit dough yields a soft, delicate biscuit. Pour in the wet ingredients and gently stir the dough just until blended. Don’t over mix it. You’ll ruin your biscuits.

I’ll share my recipe and technique tomorrow.

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