A really good biscuit is the food equivalent of a big hug from the sweet Southern grandmother you always wished you had. It's comforting, heart-warming, and it makes a bad day instantly better. But not all of us have sweet-as-honey grandmas from the South and not all of us have had great biscuits. But we're here to change that.
Most great biscuits are born in the South, it's true. But that doesn't mean that biscuits can only be good in the South, nor that all Southern biscuits are good. Southerners just have more practice when it comes to biscuits because they've long known that this quick bread deserves a spot in everyday life.
If you're starting to realize this is true for you too, step away from the Pillsbury and listen up: here are the 10 commandments you need to follow to make a great biscuit.
Accept that fact that there is no ONE right way to make a biscuit.
Some people like their biscuits tall, others small. Some prefer to use butter for the flavor, others swear by lard. Some roll out their dough, some shape it by hand. Some cut them into circles, others cut them into squares. So long as you make your biscuits with love, that's all anyone can ask for.
Use a pastry cloth.
Flickr: Melissa Waddle
If you're planning on rolling them out, that is. The pastry cloth will help make sure they don't absorb too much flour. Plus, it's an all around awesome baker's tool.
The biscuits should touch.
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They're friendly. We learned this tip from Carrie of Callie's Biscuits. They were some of the best biscuits we had in the South.
Use the best buttermilk.
Or heavy cream. Or sour cream. Biscuits have so few ingredients that the ones you use should really be of the best quality. The flavor will shine through. In Tennessee, they swear by Cruze Farm buttermilk. If you can get your hands on it, do. But whatever you do, never, EVER, use powdered buttermilk. EVER.
If you're using butter, make sure it's ice cold.
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Need we explain?
Don't expect them to be layered, you are not the Pillsbury dough boy.
Flickr: Michael Fletcher
Flaky, yes. Crumbly, yes. Tender, of course. But layered? Eh, not so much.
Use a soft red winter wheat flour.
It's the secret to the South's amazing biscuits. It has less gluten which makes for a more tender crumb. If you don't live in the American South, try to get your hands on their highly revered White Lily flour.
Handle the biscuits gently.
They're sensitive. The more you work their dough, the tighter the gluten gets. And that spells R-U-B-B-E-R.
Make them A LOT.
The more biscuits you make, the better they will become. Don't let a bad batch deter you. Biscuits are one of those things that get a lot better with practice.
Lastly, let's call it 'fixing a biscuit,' not 'making a biscuit.'