Biscuits may just be as Southern as it gets, and if there's one thing Houston does really well, it's Southern food. But with this recipe, you don't have to rely on someone else to make you the perfect biscuits anymore. Biscuits made at home are surprisingly simple and a few tips will keep your biscuits flaky and flavorful every time.
Before we talk about the ingredients, we've got to look at the mixing method, or the process by which you introduce the various ingredients together. Biscuit dough is special in that it is one of the few baked goods that requires you to keep the fat (here, the butter) from mixing in with the batter. This is because by keeping the fat seperate, it is able to evaporate during the cooking process, leaving small little pockets of air inbetween the dough. Voila, you've got yourself a flaky texture.
How do we do this? By keeping the butter as cold as possible while introducing it to the dough, and by mixing the dough only enough to ensure the butter isn't blended in. Other baked goods that rely on this principle are pie doughs and puff pastry, so you could say that biscuits are the croissants of the south.
Now that we know how to make biscuits, let's look at what we need to make those biscuits delicious. While lard and shortening are generally better at creating a flaky texture—they aren't as readily absorbed by flour—neither are very flavorful and thus can create pretty bland biscuits. This is where butter saves the day. Not only does butter (when mixed properly) create a flaky texture; it also gives the biscuits a superior flavor. The mixture of milk and cream—instead of just milk or even water—also contributres flavor, as the high butterfat content in cream delivers that rich flavor common to butter as well. The flour holds it all together and a little sugar and salt—both aiding in the browning of the crust—also add a little hint of their respective flavors.
Bake them hot and quick to get a crisp exterior and soft interior and you've got yourself the perfect biscuits.
- 2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 5 ounces cold butter, chopped
- 1/2 cup milk
- 4 tablespoons cream
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the chopped butter and pinch it inbetween your fingers in the flour, breaking the butter apart until the entire mixture resemebles a very coarse cornmeal. (For a quick food processor method, simply pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resemblers cornmeal.)
- Add the milk and cream, and mix with your hands until a dough begins to form (With a food processor, add the milk and cream, and pulse until large clumps of dough begin to form.)
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead the dough a few times until it holds a shape and is just barely elastic.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden.