Kitchen Tips - The Biscuit Method

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Producing light, flaky, airy biscuits is simple when you follow a few simple guidelines.
Directions
1. Procedure: Biscuit Method
2. Scale all ingredients accurately.
3. Sift the dry ingredients together into a mixing bowl.
4. Cut in the shortening, using the paddle attachment or the pastry knife attachment of your mixer.  If preferred, you may also cut in the fat by hand, using a pastry blender or your fingers.  Continue until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
5. Combine the liquid ingredients in a separate container.
6. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients.  Mix just until the ingredients are combined and a soft dough is formed.  Do not overmix.
7. Bring the dough to the bench (work surface) and knead it lightly by pressing it out and folding it in half.  Rotate the dough 90 degrees after each fold.
8. Repeat this procedure about 10 to 20 times, or for about 30 seconds.  The dough should be soft and slightly elastic, but not sticky.  Overkneading toughens the biscuits.  The dough is now ready for makeup.
9. Makeup of Biscuits
10. Roll the biscuit dough into a sheet about 1/2 inch thick, being careful to roll it evenly and to a uniform thickness.  Biscuits approximately double in height during baking.
11. Cut into desired shapes.  When using round hand cutters, cutting straight down produces the best shape after baking.  Do not twist the cutter.  Space the cuts closely to minimize scraps. Cutting into squares or rectangles with a pastry cutter or knife eliminates scraps that would have to be rerolled.  Reworked scraps are tougher.
12. Place the biscuits 1/2 inch apart on baking sheet for crisp-crusted biscuits, or touching each other for softer biscuits.  Bake as soon as possible.  If desired, the tops may be brushed with egg wash or milk before baking to aid browning.
 
Notes:
Summary
~Combine dry ingredients and cut in fat.
~Combine liquid ingredients.
~Add liquid to dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
~If required, knead very lightly.

Variations
Changes in the basic procedure produces different characteristics in the finished product:
~Using slightly more shortening and cutting it in less - only until the pieces are the size of peas - produces a flakier biscuit.
~Omitting the kneading step produces very tender, crusty biscuits, but with less volume.




Dawn Knowlton

Member since Jan 2010

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