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Classic Baking-Powder Biscuits

Classic Baking-Powder Biscuits
The key to making featherlight biscuits and scones is minimal handling of the flaky, crumbly dough. You may think the dough needs more kneading to hold together, but the less you work it, the lighter the result will be. When adding the butter, work quickly so it does not melt into the dough before the biscuits go in the oven. If it becomes soft, the biscuits will be tough. Shape the dough on a lightly floured surface, gently pressing and patting it into a thick circle.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into
     1⁄4-inch dice
  • 2⁄3 cup milk
  • Whipped butter for serving (optional)
  • Warmed maple syrup for serving (optional)

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 450°F. Lightly butter a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal, handling it as little as possible. Stir in the milk and blend with a spoon just until all the liquid has been absorbed. With lightly floured hands, work the dough briefly until it barely holds together in a flaky ball.

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll or pat the dough out into a round about 1⁄2 inch thick. With a 2-inch biscuit cutter or the rim of a glass, cut out as many rounds as possible. Gather up the scraps, work into a cohesive ball, reroll and cut out more rounds. Do not reroll the dough more than once or you will end up with tough biscuits.

Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately with whipped butter and warm maple syrup.
Makes about 9 biscuits.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Breakfast, by Brigit L. Binns (Simon & Schuster, 2003).