Light, pillowy, and with enough nooks and crannies to drizzle with butter and jam, biscuits stole their way into my heart at a young age as a perfect breakfast food.* This recipe was inspired by my previous biscuit attempts, and fortified by a recipe I encountered during my search for a biscuit I could make that fulfilled my childhood dreams. Since then, I’ve had some time to tweak the recipe I use and find some techniques that may be helpful to you during your own biscuit making adventures.
- A scant three Cups flour (375g)
- 3/4 Cups plain yogurt
- A scant Cup half and half
- Nine Tablespoons butter, frozen
- One and 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
- One and 1/2 Tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Three Tablespoons extra butter for greasing the baking sheet and browning the biscuits
- Extra flour for laminating
- A large mixing bowl
- A rubber spatula
- A baking sheet
- A cooling rack
- A cheese grater
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cups
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
Using the cheese grater, grate the frozen butter. Using a spatula, move the shredded butter into the mixing bowl. Then gently fold the butter into the flour mixture, taking care not to touch the butter with your hands.
If the shredded butter starts to clump together, break up the clumps with your spatula, but avoid using your fingers. After folding, the butter bits should be distributed throughout the bowl containing your dry ingredients.
Once the butter has been incorporated, add the yogurt and mix it into your dough using the spatula. The dough will become stiff, and may be a bit harder to work with after this phase.
Add 1/2 cup of the half and half, and incorporate it into the dough using the spatula. Run your hands under cold water, and dry them. Add the rest of the half and half. Using your fingers, work the dough quickly to incorporate the rest of the half and half. Do not overwork the dough at this stage; the mixture should look a bit uneven, with gobs of butter distributed throughout the mix.
As soon as your flour mixture forms a cohesive but lumpy dough, put the mixing bowl into the refrigerator and let your dough rest for 15-20 minutes. While the dough is resting, grease a large baking sheet.
Once the dough has rested, take it out of the refrigerator and turn it onto a clean, floured countertop or other flat surface. If the dough sticks to your fingers, dust your hands and the top of the dough with flour. Now, it’s laminating time!
Using your hands (and not a rolling pin!), flatten the dough into a rough rectangle about one inch thick (~2.5cm). Once the dough is fairly evenly distributed in shape and thickness, grab one end of the rectangle and fold the dough in half like a book. Then, turn the “book” 90 degrees from its original position on the countertop.
Gently press the folded dough back down until it is approximately one inch thick again. Then, grab one end of the rectangle and fold the dough in half like a book once more. Flatten the dough into a rectangle approximately one inch thick one more time, taking care not to overwork the dough or press it too flat.
Take a biscuit cutter or a pint glass, cut the biscuits, and place them on the baking sheet. You’ll have some ends and bits of dough left over from the cutting process; I usually squish these into small balls and bake them right alongside the biscuits; they don’t look as good, but they’re still quite tasty.
Once all of your biscuits are cut, put the baking sheet back into the refrigerator for another ten minutes.
While the biscuits are resting, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit/220 degrees Celsius. In a small pan, melt two Tablespoons of butter, and set aside.
Once the biscuits have rested for the second time, put the baking sheet onto the center rack in your oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. The biscuits should have puffed up and doubled in size. Drizzle the tops of your biscuits with melted butter and put them back in the oven for another 4-8 minutes.
Watch your biscuits carefully during the last phase of baking; they should be just golden brown on top, and slightly darker brown on the bottom. Overcooking will result in a dry biscuit without as much flavor. Undercooking will result in biscuits which aren’t done in the middle. Depending on your oven (regular or convection), as well as altitude and humidity, the biscuits may cook faster or slower than expected.
A key to success with laminated biscuits is the temperature and treatment of the butter. Keep all of your wet ingredients very cold (or frozen, in some cases!), and limit the amount of time you spend touching the dough with your hands, to minimize chances for the butter to soften and melt before the biscuits hit the oven. If you’re baking this recipe on a hot day or in a warm kitchen, you may want to incorporate more breaks in the baking process to rechill the butter or dough.
If you don’t have powdered sugar, you can substitute granulated sugar for similar results.
When estimating the thickness of your dough, aim for “just a bit over an inch” instead of “just a bit under an inch.” You don’t have to measure the dough with a ruler, but you definitely want to avoid over-pressing your dough, which can cause difficulties when baking your biscuits.
This recipe makes about six biscuits, depending on the size of your biscuit cutter, as well as some extra dough bits to bake alongside them. Enjoy the biscuits with butter, jam, or honey. Munch on the leftover dough bits with some soup. The biscuits reheat well (lowest time and temperature setting on a toaster oven).
*There are many, many perfect breakfast foods. I am trying to make it one of my life goals to enjoy, consume, and hopefully learn as many of them as I can.