Grains

Best, Basic, Buttery Biscuits

October 13, 2014
3 Ratings
Author Notes

In the time it takes to take a shower, listen to three Paul Simon songs, or prepare a cup of tea, you can make biscuits. This is the very best version of pared-down, no-frills biscuit. You don't even need buttermilk! You can make them ahead and pop them in the oven to reheat, or freeze the cut-out biscuit dough and bake them off whenever you want. —Posie (Harwood) Brien

  • Makes 5 large or 10 small biscuits
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, very cold (1 stick)
  • 3/4 cup milk, very cold (any % of milk works)
  • 1 egg, optional
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 410 degrees. Anywhere from 400-425 degrees will work just fine -- biscuits are decidedly NOT finicky in terms of oven temp and time.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut the butter into chunks, add it to the flour mixture, and (using a fork or a pastry cutter), cut it into the flour mixture until it is in pea-sized pieces. You really need to keep the butter in little bits -- this is what makes the flakes in the biscuit!
  3. Pour the milk into the bowl and, using a fork or spoon, stir the milk until it is incorporated. The dough is going to feel much too dry in some places -- that is okay. [OPTIONAL: You can also add in a beaten egg with the milk. I like biscuits both ways. It just makes them a little more buttery if you add the egg here.]
  4. Now, using clean hands, start folding together the dough in the mixing bowl. The goal here is to incorporate all the dry ingredients without overworking or overwarming the butter. Just keep folding it over itself a few times. The idea is to keep the little bits of butter distinct and not let it all melt together, so you need to have a very light touch. The more your dough has visible bits of butter, the better your biscuits (say that 3 times fast).
  5. Now turn the dough out onto a floured surface and fold it over on itself, pressing down gently to knead it together as you go. Once it is all well-mixed, roll it out into a disc about 2 inches high. Using a pastry cutter or some other metal round, punch out circles of dough (make them as big as you want!)
  6. Place the dough circles on an unlined baking sheet. Brush the tops lightly with a beaten egg (this is optional but it makes them prettier). Bake them for about 10-15 minutes...keep an eye on them after 10 minutes and pull them out as soon as they start to get golden brown.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Diana
    Diana
  • Heidi Reinberg
    Heidi Reinberg
  • luzy
    luzy

4 Reviews

Heidi R. May 24, 2020
This is the first time I've attempted biscuits—and though they weren't quite as flaky as those in the photo, I'm impressed with myself!! Next time I'll definitely try sticking them in the freezer before baking.
 
Heidi R. June 6, 2020
Made these again this morning — and they were significantly better than the first batch! If you're new to baking biscuits like I am, here's what I changed up, for the better (I should note that it's a warm day):

– I cut the butter into smaller bits to begin with before I added it to the dough (which meant I could work the dough less to cut it up)

– I used sour milk this time (yes, it's okay to bake with spoiled milk, as long as it doesn't have mold). I believe I used the same amount of milk as last time, but this time the dough was significantly wetter, meaning I didn't have to work it as much

– I cut them in circles using a ball jar lid last time, which resulted in somewhat raggedy edges (which I read once upon a time was a thing that inhibits rising, I think?) This time I simply cut them into squares with a sharp knife.

– Finally, I had enough to have to bake a second batch, and I put that dough in the freezer, then the frig until I was ready to bake them (30 minutes or so). I have not tasted them, but they don't look any different than the first batch, which I did not put in the freezer.

I have found that the baked ones freeze very well.
 
luzy April 26, 2020
need to try some of these as m running out of ideas at home I love cooking and baking , but after 50 days in lock down, now have brain freeze on ideas thanks for posting'
 
Diana April 27, 2015
Absolutely delicious! I made these biscuits in about 10 minutes flat. I prefer the regular milk to tangy buttermilk in most biscuit recipes. In addition I sprinkled the tops with a tad of sea salt after the egg wash and put them in the freezer for 10 minutes before popping them in the oven so they'd be sure to puff up and be super flaky. Success!