When I was growing up in a big country farmhouse, we had biscuits for breakfast—hot, steaming biscuits that we would slap on the plate next to bacon and eggs. We would split them open and slip in a pat of butter, putting the “lid” back so that the butter would quickly melt. Then we would slather them with homemade jam or honey. It was the biscuits that seemed to make breakfast special. Actually, it was a loving mother that took the time to bake for breakfast, enough for five hungry teenage boys and a caboose of a daughter.
Later, when I lived in the South, I discovered what Southerners know: biscuits are more than a breakfast food. Hot, steaming biscuits work well with lunch and dinner as well. They accompany soups and traditional meat and vegetable meals equally well.
But there are keys to making those great biscuits that your mom, or aunt, or grandmother used to make. We would like to share those with you along with some of our favorite recipes.
Save Time with a Biscuit Mix
Of course, if you prefer or are short on time, you can use any of our just-add-water biscuit mixes. Currently, you can purchase:
Eight Keys to Great Biscuits
Key #1: Use the right flour
Use either a soft, low protein flour meant for biscuits—White Lily—or an all-purpose flour. Do not use bread flour. (See the next section for more about flour and other ingredients.)
Key #2: Keep your ingredients cold
Temperature is critical to buttery, flakey scones. Start with very cold butter—it should chip when you cut it into chunks—or cold shortening and your liquids should be ice cold. Work with the dough quickly to keep it cool.
Why do your ingredients need to be cold? The objective is to keep the butter a solid and not let it melt into a liquid. If your dough is kept cold, it will have little bits of dispersed butter. In the heat of the oven, that butter melts into the dough but leaves pockets and layers in the biscuits.
Key #3: Don’t over-work your dough
Kneading converts the protein to gluten. Mix only until the ingredients come together into a combined mass.
Key #4: Make your biscuits thick
Use a folding technique. For flakey, layered biscuits, use a folding technique. Roll the dough out to about 3/8-inch thick. Fold the dough in half and in half again and again. Roll the dough out to about 3/4-inch thick before cutting the biscuits.
Key #5: Use a wet dough
A moister dough will rise easier. Don’t use any more flour than what you need to handle the dough. It’s okay to dust your hands and the counter with flour before rolling or patting the dough.
Key #6: Place your biscuits close together
Place your biscuits close together on the pan, touching each other. That way they will tend to rise rather than spread.
Key #7: Use a hot oven
Make certain that your oven is hot and bake your biscuits at 425 degrees or above. The hot oven gives the dough a burst of steam that helps make the biscuits light and airy.
Key #8: Don’t over-bake your biscuits
Over-baking for even a minute or two will dry your biscuits out. As soon as the edges begin to turn brown, remove them from the oven. Immediately, place the biscuits on a wire rack—the hot pan will continue to dry the biscuits.
Our Favorite Biscuit Recipes
Southern Baking Powder Biscuits Recipe
These are your basic Southern biscuits and proven by time. With only a few ingredients and steps they go together quickly. They rise tall and are slightly salty with no added sugar. If you like, you may add a tablespoon or two of sugar—but then they wouldn’t be authentic Southern biscuits.
Classic Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe
This may be the most famous, most baked quick bread in the world. It relies on not just baking powder for leavening but the chemical reaction of buttermilk and baking soda. Because the reaction is not complete, you still get a touch of tang from the buttermilk.
Sour Cream Biscuits Recipe
Biscuits can be made with sour cream instead of buttermilk.These biscuits are moist with sour cream and yet are still tall and light. Sour cream is acidic like buttermilk and will react with baking soda, leaving a touch of tang. Unlike buttermilk, sour cream is high in fat, and in this recipe, is used in place of shortening or butter.
Southern Pecan Biscuits Recipe
This is a classic butter-based biscuit recipe with nuts added and made just a little sweeter than most. It works marvelously well with a soup and for breakfast served with your favorite jam.
Cinnamon Burst Biscuits Recipe
These cinnamon biscuits are a favorite. We’ve vamped up a classic cinnamon biscuit recipe by adding cinnamon chips to give a punch of flavor in every bite. The combination of cinnamon chips and brown sugar flavor is fantastic.
Chunky Peanut Butter Biscuits Recipe
This is a really good biscuit and was very popular in our store. It’s not really made with peanut butter. Instead, they are made with peanut butter chips and chopped peanuts. The background flavor is brown sugar which is perfect.