Baking Powder Biscuits
There is something very special about breaking open a fluffy biscuit steaming hot from the oven and smearing it with butter or jam that takes us to a happy place. I think the biscuit would fall into the category of comfort foods reminding people of childhood. Over the years I have heard many people say that their mother made the best biscuits. While most everyone agrees that they love a good biscuit, there seems to be a bit of discussion over what constitutes the perfect pastry. Geography does play a key roll determining shape and size as well as sweet verses tangy, but the one common attribute that everyone seems to agree on is that a good biscuit should be light and fluffy.
Over the years I have tried to make what I considered the perfect biscuit, and in doing so have produced everything from a tower of fluff to a doorstop. While I have had a few winners I was never able to consistently produce a biscuit of quality. After countless attempts I have finally realized that making biscuits is just like making pie crust and that I had just been working at it way to hard. I don’t know why this has taken me so long to figure out, but at least I finally got there .
Just like making a pie crust, it is important that your butter is cold and that you work the dough only enough to make a crumbly mixture. I have tried using a pastry blender and also attempted the two fork method, but I find the best way is to use my hands. I had seen the term ‘pinch in butter’ used in an old cookbook recipe and now understand what this means. While your mixture may not resemble what you think of as a dough, it will all come together when you shape it.
Round or square it really doesn’t matter how you cut your biscuits, just be sure that you use a sharp cutter or knife and push straight down. A twisting motion will prevent the biscuits from rising. Also use plenty of flour on your board to prevent sticking, at this point you will not be working the flour into the dough.
Is this the perfect biscuit? I don’t know, but this recipe does make a very light and fluffy product that I can consistently bake and that everyone seems to enjoy. If and when anyone comments I can always drop back and say, “you know my mother made the best biscuits.”
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter cut into small cubes and cold
- 1 cup whole milk chilled
Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
Mix dry ingredients together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or use fingers to work the butter into the flour. Mixture will look like bread crumbs. It is ok to have some larger pieces they will help the biscuits to rise.
Add the milk all at once and stir just enough to combine and absorb flour.
Turn out onto a floured board and pat into a rectangle. Fold the dough in thirds and roll to about ¾ of an inch thick.
Cut with a biscuit cutter pushing straight down or cut into squares with a bench knife.
Transfer biscuits onto a parchment lined baking pan. Brush the tops with milk and bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until the biscuits are golden.
Biscuits are best served warm.
To reheat place biscuits on a baking pan and cover with foil. Place in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes.