Foolproof Biscuits




About: Michael's Test Kitchen - FOOD - SUGAR - RECIPES

Ever tried to make biscuits and they just come out of the oven like dry pieces of cardboard? Or they carry a taste reminiscent of baking soda?

This recipe will eliminate those issues, if followed properly – in order for the biscuits to rise significantly, and achieve a butter flaky texture, one of the most important aspects is the cold butter. And I place important stress on the word cold for good reason. If the butter is not cold, then it will melt. This should be comprehensive enough since we are/should be familiar with ice cubes. If the butter melts, then you don’t achieve multiple layers of butter fat inside layers of flour. Instead, you end up with a melted blob that will stay in the form that you left it in when you placed it in the oven in the first place.

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The solution is obvious enough, easier said than done: keep the butter cold. It’s good to keep the butter in the freezer up until you cut it up and use it. Once cut into the flour, it’s a good idea to place the entire bowl in the fridge until you’re ready to take it out and use it with the wet ingredients (which should be cold as well). The faster you work, the colder the butter will be. And the colder the butter is, the more layers will be formed in the dough, and the flakier your biscuits.

However, butter is not the only aspect to a good biscuit. The other aspect is the rising agent. I won’t go into much detail on this, but have found via research and experimentation that a 2:1 ratio of cream of tartar to baking soda works better than a straight-up measurement of baking powder, and also helps eliminate that baking-soda flavor that some people get when they use too much.

Have fun baking, and enjoy!

Step 1: Ingredients


2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

8 Tbs. unsalted butter, frozen

NOTE: As a substitute for buttermilk, mix 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Let sit for a few minutes before using.

Step 2: Dry Ingredients

Preheat oven to 375 (if you want to use convection, preheat to 350). Mix the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in a large bowl.

Step 3: Butter

Cut frozen butter into tablespoons, and dump the pieces into the food processor. Pulse for not more than 30 seconds until the butter resembles coarse crumbs.

Step 4: Wet Ingredients

Pour flour and butter mixture back into the large bowl.

Pour in the buttermilk and fold it in until the mixture is just holding shape, being careful not to over-mix dough.

Step 5: Roll It

Place dough onto a floured surface, and roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thick.

Cut it into thirds, stack the thirds on top of each other, then roll it out again as an inch thick slab.

Step 6: Cut Them Out

Cut out biscuits with any round device like a cup, and place the circles of dough bottom side up on a baking sheet.

Step 7: Bake It

Place in the preheated oven (375 degrees) for 15 minutes or more, until biscuits are golden brown.

Step 8: Enjoy!


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    12 Discussions


    Question 4 months ago on Step 1

    You show regular whole milk and apple cider vinegar but no instructions on how to mix to make 'buttermilk' substitute

    1 answer

    4 months ago

    How much of this can be made ahead of time? I find it stressful to do all the prep last minute. Suggestions? Thank you!

    5 replies

    Reply 4 months ago

    One more question... how long before baking can these be made? Do they have do go into the oven immediately because of the baking soda? I love the idea of the layers. Thank you for your time. :)


    Reply 4 months ago

    Looks like you can store the cut out biscuit dough in a freezer for up to 3 months - So it looks like the baking soda doesn't affect it that much. But for the sake of the cold butter, make sure you pop it into the freezer as soon as you're done cutting out the dough, since you don't want the butter to get warm.


    4 months ago

    I pat the mixed product into a rectangle, make a cut long wise, and two cust across, this makes a path through the dough with six partitions. Biscuits close together rise more in the baking process. because mine are sliced into six parts, they rise a lot, i dont try to separate them , and not rolling them out saves working the dough and letting the gluten strength get going... it makes an industrial biscuit rather than the pretty rounds. if you cut the dough with a sharp knife, it keeps them from getting tough, and with a stunted growth. I only cook for myself and other guys at hunting camp, and these industrial looking biscuits, borrowed from the English practice of patting them out round, then making pie shapes for scones, gets the job done quickly and so far without a shadow of complaint.
    I like the rounds, but industrial are faster and encourage making biscuits with fried chicken and hearty soups ...the recipe is wonderful and my addon comment here is not intended as criticism, but encouragement for eveyone to try the recipe and actually make this incredible fine quick bread.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 months ago

    That method sounds good, thanks for sharing! Next time I make biscuits I'll try it out. :D


    4 months ago

    NOM! These look so good! You should enter these into the Baking Contest!

    1 reply