Introduction: Southern Biscuits II - Butter Topped

About: I'm a 49 year old Systems Architect living in the Midwestern United States. After travelling the world for 20 years as a consulting architect I became disabled, as a result, I am now embracing a Slow life. F…

This is the second in a series of Instructables showcasing the wide variety of Southern Biscuits. The first, Southern Hand Rolled Biscuits, introduced a lesser-known type of biscuit which is light and fluffy and rounded on top. For this Instructable, I'm presenting a more traditional "topped" biscuit. A "topped" biscuit is usually cut-out, rather than rolled, and therefore has a flat top. This recipe also features plenty of butter, instead of shortening. This results in a buttery flavor, at the expense of a little of the lightening power of shortening. I hope you enjoy them.


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Step 1: Butter Time

Whisk the flour, salt, cream of tartar, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the chilled butter. NOTE:The secret to biscuits is keeping the butter chilled. I recommend putting it back in the fridge for at least 15 minutes after you cut it up.

Incorporate the butter into the flour by picking up a piece of butter between your thumb and forefinger and making a "snapping" motion like you are snapping your fingers. Keep doing this until there are no pieces of butter larger than a pea. Shaking the bowl occasionally will bring large pieces up to the top. If this step took you longer than 5 minutes, put the mixture back in the fridge for about 15 minutes before continuing.

Step 2: Mix Time

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the milk. Using a spatula, incorporate the milk into the dough until it pulls the flour off the sides of the bowl. The dough will be sticky. If it isn't, add a little more milk. If it seems too wet, don't worry, we can fix that in the next step.

Step 3: Fold Time

On a well-floured pastry board, turn out the dough and sprinkle more flour on top. Brush off the excess and pat the dough out to about 1/2-inch thick. Fold the dough over in half (the scraper really helps for this), and pat out again. If there are lumps in the dough or it still feels a bit too wet, repeat this process one or two more times. Finally, decide how thick you want your biscuits. The final thickness you pat the dough too will heavily influence how thick they bake up to. I like to use my biscuits for sandwiches, so I typically make them thin but big, about 1/4-inch. 1/2 to 3/4-inch will result in a more traditional looking biscuit.

Step 4: Cut and Bake

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the rack is close to the top of the oven. Using a cutter (typically 2 1/2 inches, the one shown is 3 inches), cut the biscuits. Be sure not to twist the cutter, we don't want to seal the edges. You can use the scraps left over to make more biscuits, but they won't be as light as the first ones cut.

Place the biscuits on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 14 minutes, rotating them halfway through.

When the biscuits come out of the over, brush with melted butter and allow to cool slightly, 2-3 minutes.