This article was originally published in March 2016
There are two distinct camps in the world of biscuits: the folks who believe the perfect biscuit should be soft and tender all the way through, and the ones who strongly prefer a stack of thin and flaky layers.
Whichever style you prefer, a few basic bits of advice will get you closer to achieving perfection. First, check your leaveners for freshness. For baking powder, drop a half teaspoon into a small cup of hot water and make sure it fizzes. For baking soda, add a half teaspoon of vinegar to hot water before the soda.
Second, skip the biscuit cutters. A sharp chef’s knife is all you need to cut your biscuits into identical squares, and you won’t have to re-roll any dough, which leads to both reduced tenderness and fewer flaky layers.
At this point, the ingredients are nearly identical but the techniques vary. Choose your style and check out the recipe!
Work the butter in very thoroughly, then pat the dough lightly into an even rectangle, rather than pressing down with a rolling pin. You’ll end up with a tall and tender biscuit if you pat it to about one inch thick.
Cut the cold butter into pieces as small as you can manage, then work it into the flour as lightly as possible, barely stirring when you add the buttermilk. Rather than kneading the dough, fold it several times to keep the butter from being too well mixed.
Find recipes for both styles.
Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached Super-fine Cake Flour
Low-protein flour reduces the chance that you’ll end up with tough biscuits. This is a close substitution for the famed White Lily flour.
Grace Harbor buttermilk
This local, cultured buttermilk made with whole milk is so thick you don’t need add cream to enrich it. It’s available in pints as well as quarts.
Two to try
If you’re in the “tender” camp, grab a four-pack from the freezer case in our Columbia City store. Baker Art Stone offers tender biscuits in both traditional and gluten-free.
PCC Breakfast Cheddar Biscuits
Tender with a few nice layers, our hot breakfast biscuits are flavored with cheddar and green onions for extra-tasty morning sandwiches.