Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Homemade Biscuits

I make things more difficult than they really are.

I make bread (admittedly mostly in my breadmaker) and pizza dough and all kinds of things from scratch. I make cookies and cakes and brownies and pancakes not-from-mixes (and also from mixes, especially if the mix is Trader Joe's Truffle Fudge Brownie Mix).

But somehow I always thought biscuits were complicated. So we didn't eat them, except on the exceedingly rare occasion that I would buy the little refrigerated tubes o' biscuit.


Biscuits are not complicated to make.  I don't know why I thought they were. If you skip the resting step (and have a magically fast preheating oven), you could have warm biscuits on the table in thirty minutes or less. And even given resting and preheating the oven, these take less than an hour.

Also, they're delicious.

With honey.
Biscuits and honey.

Homemade Biscuits
Adapted from The Simple Homemaker's Sleeping Baby Biscuits recipe. You should check out her cute post, especially if even this is sounds like too much work--she also has a recipe for Screaming Baby Biscuits (one-handed dump-and-mix process), which might show up here in a few months! ;-)

Mix in a nice big bowl 2 cups flour (I used white but will be experimenting with ratios of whole wheat), 3-4 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar (for a fluffier biscuit; if you don't have cream of tartar, make sure to use 4 tsp. of baking powder. I used 4 tsp. baking powder AND the cream of tartar 'cause I like my biscuits fluffy. And because my cream of tartar is ancient and I have no idea if it actually still works anymore).

Cut in 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter. Cutting means using a pastry cutter (pictured) or a couple of table knives in a rocking sort of motion. The end result will look like coarse crumbs, with tiny bits of cold butter coated in flour. You can also just soften the butter in the microwave and stir it in with your spatula, but that will make the biscuits less flaky. And a flaky biscuit is pretty much the ideal for me.

Cut your cold butter into smaller pieces and scatter them
in the bowl of flour+.

Pastry cutter. Rock it back and forth to simultaneously
chop and mix the butter into the flour mixture.

It resembles coarse crumbs when you're done, but still may
have larger chunks of butter and loose flour.
In a measuring cup (or a small bowl), mix 2/3 cup milk (or water) and 1 Tbs. honey.

Mixing in the measuring cup saves you a dish.
Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients, and mix until moistened and it holds together somewhat.

This time it was a little gloppy; with wheat flour it's often
a little dusty. Fine either way.
Around this time, depending on your oven, you should preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lightly flour your counter and dump the dough out onto it.

I flour a silpat just to help define my working area and
because who knows how sanitary my counters really are.

Pile o' dough.
Knead approximately twelve times. To knead, you gather your dough into a mound, then punch it in the middle, pushing half of it back away from you.

Mound o' dough.
Kneading is good stress relief.

Then pick up that back half, fold it back onto the rest of the dough, and repeat, changing the direction from which you fold the dough.

Pick up the back half and fold forward.

New mound o' dough.

Punch again, maybe toward one side.

Pick it up and fold again.

Flatten the dough and use a biscuit cutter or the top of a glass to cut out a dozen biscuits. Or eleven biscuits and one the-rest-of-the-dough-mashed-into-a-rough-biscuit-shape runt. It will depend on how thinly you flatten your dough and the diameter of your biscuit cutter/water glass.

No need for a rolling pin. Just stretch and mash it a bit.

Drinking glass biscuit cutter.
Place on a baking sheet (I advise a Silpat thing, if you have one) about two inches apart. TSH says you can stick them all close together in a pan for softer, pull-apart style biscuits. If you'd like, brush the tops with melted butter or milk.

Let rest twenty minutes before baking, though they will be perfectly edible if you toss them in the oven right away.

Bake at 450 for 10-15 minutes or until slightly browned (or however you like your biscuits).

Lightly toasted. Whole wheat biscuits will be darker, and
these could have been left in a little longer with no problem.

Eat plain, buttered, with jam, with honey, topped with an egg and bacon...however you eat them, they're delicious!

I've been making them in the evening and eating them with honey or eggs for breakfast, and with honey for an afternoon snack or a dessert.

Nom nom nom.

What's something you thought was "too hard" to cook that turned out to be super easy?


  1. Dude I always thought biscuits were hard too (still do actually), but JM makes them like every weekend and they're delicious! And easy, apparently, but I am no good at making them so I leave it up to him. :-)

    1. I would suggest you try Christy's Screaming Baby Biscuits in the link, but if JM already has the biscuit-making department covered, I guess you're off the hook. ;-)



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