Biscuits are my holy grail; the thing I’ve wanted to make perfectly for years. Decades, actually. I grew up with Bisquik biscuits which are better than those nasty things from a can, but not by much. I’ve spent the last year trying to find the perfect recipe. Cook’s Illustrated can usually be trusted, but frankly their recipes all disappoint.
At one point I made three versions of my recipe in one afternoon and made my neighbor Jay rate them all. All my tweaking has paid off finally. I now present you with my impossibly perfect biscuit recipe (let’s do a tutorial so you get them absolutely right):
Start off by mixing all the dry ingredients together. If you have a food processor, this is much faster/easier. If you don’t, just use a medium-sized bowl and a couple of forks.
After you’ve mixed the dry ingredients together, add the butter and shortening. Here’s the deal: butter tastes great but makes the biscuits a bit harder. Shortening makes the texture incredibly tender but the flavor is dull, dull, dull. So half butter and half shortening is the perfect combination. If you only have one or the other, so be it. But if you have both, use them!
Give the ingredients a few whirs in the food processor, or cut the mixture with forks until it’s got little chunks of butter/shortening throughout.
If you’re using a food processor, you’ll need to dump the ingredients into a regular bowl at this point.
Now get a measuring cup and pour in the milk. Then crack an egg into the milk and stir it all up.
Dump the milk/egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix with a fork til it’s combined. At this point it’s going to be very wet and globby. Turn it out onto a floured surface. *Take your wedding ring off and put it in a good place because it’s about to get covered in dough*
Let’s pause here to discuss kneading. Everything I’ve read says to never knead biscuit dough. It will get tough and yucky if you do. So I made a batch of biscuits and kneaded half of the dough about 20 times, and just patted the other flat and cut them out. Look what happened:
The biscuits on the left were kneaded. The biscuits on the right were not
. Which would you rather eat? (By the way, the kneaded biscuits were also amazingly tender and soft.) So the moral of the story is to knead your dough about 20 times, adding flour as needed. It will be tacky, but not sticky or wet.
Pat the dough into a vaguely rectangular shape (no need for a rolling pin).
The dough should be patted out to 3/4″-1″ thick. Thin biscuits are lame!
Now you’ll need to cut them out. If you’re lucky you’ll have a nice set of sharp biscuit cutters. Sometimes I use heart-shaped cutters, but something with dull edges is a bad choice. Dull edges smoosh biscuit edges shut, so your biscuits will end up flatter. So don’t cut your biscuits out with a glass. I don’t care if your Grandma does it this way. You’ll be sorry!
(If your dough is sticking to the cutter, dip the cutter in flour. The dough will just slide off.)
Now put the biscuits on your tray and bake them at 425º. Yep, that’s one hot oven. If you have an airbake cookie sheet, use it. (They’re great for biscuits but absolute crap for cookies.) Make sure they’re nice and dark gold on the top. Pale biscuits will still be raw inside. Ew!
Look at these! They’re positively exploding with fluffiness!
Now get out some honey or jam and slather up! So divine!
2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, chilled
1/4 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk
Place first four ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times. Cut in butter til mixture is crumbly (six one-second pulses). Transfer from food processor to medium-sized bowl.
Beat egg and milk together. Stir into dry ingredients. Turn out onto floured surface and knead about 20 times. Roll to 3/4″-1″ thickness and cut with 2 1/2″ biscuit cutters.
Bake at 425º for 9-11 minutes or until dark golden brown.