“My Favorite Biscuits Ever” is perhaps a bit misleading as I live a low-carb lifestyle and typically don’t indulge; they are, however, my kid’s favorite so we’re going to run with it! Now that back-to-school is here, warm, nutritious breakfasts are always in the foremost of my mind. I’m not a fan of boxed cereal and cereal bars and I make no apologies for that fact. As I stated in my post on school lunches :
My personal conviction (perhaps it’s the French in me?) is that food should do more than just supply nutrients to your body, but should feed the eyes and comfort the spirit as well.
On a cool, crisp morning, nothing is as delicious as a pan of warm flaky biscuits straight from the oven to wake sleepy bodies and chase away the chill. Depending on the time available and appetite, the kids will slather theirs with strawberry jam or apple butter, make breakfast sandwiches with an egg and a piece of bacon or eat them as a side with some buttery fried apples or stewed berries. They even like them tucked into a lunchbox as a side with a Thermos of soup. And the fantastic thing about this recipe is it’s easy to double and freeze for those rushed mornings. Just set them out the night before or thaw them in the microwave for a quick, warm breakfast. So let’s skip the chatter and talk ingredients and technique.
Ingredients For The Best Biscuits Ever!
These biscuits require 3 ingredients: 2 cups of self-rising flour, 5 tablespoons of butter and 1 cup (give or take) of whole milk. If you don’t like to use white flour, you can make your own self-rising wheat/whole grain flour by adding 3 teaspoons of baking powder and 1 teaspoon of salt to the 2 cups of flour. Stir it really well to ensure the ingredients are thoroughly combined. The butter should be straight-from-the-fridge cold as should the milk. The temperature of the products really do make a difference when you’re making quick breads, so be diligent!
There are a couple of tricks you need to know to ensure flaky, tender biscuits every time.
- Do not overwork the dough. You stir the dough just enough to combine the solids with the liquids. The dough is going to look lumpy, shaggy and irregular and that’s just fine. You knead the dough very gently and just long enough to produce a dough you can handle. This is not like kneading bread that requires some serious muscle; biscuits and other quick breads require a delicate hand.
- Do not add all the flour the recipe calls for. Anytime I’m making a pastry that is going to require kneading or rolling, I omit up to 25% of the flour and use that flour to do the kneading. If you use all the flour called-for and then additional flour to knead, you’ll end up with a product resembling a clay target. Better for skeet shooting than eating! For these biscuits, I use 1&1/2 cups of flour for mixing and use the remaining 1/2 cup to knead and roll the biscuits. This is the same technique I use on pasta, pie crusts and sugar cookie cut outs—and it works well every single time.
- As tedious as it is, you HAVE to cut the butter uniformly into the flour. You need those pebble-sized chunks of butter spread evenly through out the dough for flavor, proper layers as well as to aid the leavening process. So take your time with the step of cutting in the butter. It really does make a difference. The best way to do this is to use either a pastry blender (pictured) or a food processor. I use the pastry cutter because I’m lazy and hate taking the food processor apart to wash it.
So let’s do this! Measure out 1 1/2 cups of flour into a large bowl and add 5 tablespoons of cold butter. Using a pastry cutter or food processor, blend the butter into the flour until the resulting product looks crumbly with small, pebble-sized bits of butter throughout the flour. See the bumpy bits in my hand, there? Perfect.
Now, we’re going to add cold milk, approximately 3/4-1 cup. Depending on the flour you’re using and the humidity on the day you’re baking, it may take more or less. Just start with the 3/4 and adjust as necessary. What you want is a sloppy dough, with a consistency thicker than pancake batter but thinner than cookie dough. Something along the lines of a dropped dough/mashed potato consistency. Make sense? Anyway, mix just til the flour and milk are combined.
Take the remaining 1/2 cup of flour and dump it onto a large, clean surface for kneading. I use an old dough board, my mom dumps it straight onto her kitchen counters. Whatever works for you is fine by me! Carefully spoon the dough into the center of the flour and using both hands, flip the dough over so both sides are floured.
Sprinkle a bit of the flour onto the top of the dough and carefully fold the dough in half and turn one-quarter turn. Pat it down gently, sprinkle with some more flour, fold it in half and turn one-quarter turn again. You’re going to repeat this process 5-6 times til the dough is manageable and the majority of flour has been worked in. (If there’s some left on your surface, don’t stress.) It’s the repeated flouring, folding, patting and turning that creates those fluffy layers, so don’t neglect this step!
At this point, your dough is still going to look and feel rough and bumpy and you’ll notice blobs of butter sort of protruding out of the dough—that’s perfect! Using a rolling pin, gently roll the dough to approximately 1 inch thick and perhaps 4inches wide by 10inches tall.
Cut the dough into servings using a sharp knife or a biscuit cutter. (I typically end up with 8 biscuits from this recipe.)
I like to round mine off a little; you can just shape them as you place them in the dish, but that’s up to you.
Place the cut biscuits into a heavy baking dish with the sides slightly touching to prevent overbaking. You can use a cookie sheet, but personally I think the baking dish yields better results. Now you’ll bake your pastries in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes, til the tops and bottoms are slightly golden and the centers are set.
See the beautiful layers?! These are absolutely best served steaming hot, so don’t dawdle! Top them with honey, butter, jam, sorghum or your favorite topping and enjoy! Can’t wait to hear how much you love them!