Monday, November 18, 2013

Biscuits 101

Jan here, with some down-home honest to goodness comfort food.

After all, how much homier can you get than fresh biscuits, oozing with butter and dripping with honey?

Back in September, when our dear Missy was recovering from a bout with the crud, she posted "This and That". In her post, she mentions biscuits, and in the comments I learned something shocking! There are people who don't make homemade biscuits! I had no idea so many of my friends were deprived in this area!

Well, we're fixing that today!

Believe me: You'll love these, and your family will thank you! You may even get better Christmas presents from them because of these biscuits, but I'm not promising anything.

Biscuits Supreme (from the 1980 Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup milk

There is one important principle you need to remember when making biscuits:
♥ The butter needs to be cold - before adding it to the flour, while mixing it, and while rolling and cutting the dough. That means you need to make sure you don't handle the dough too much. If the butter gets warm before you put the biscuits in the oven, the flour will start absorbing it too early and then your biscuits won't be flaky.

Okay! Let's get started.

1) Preheat your oven to 450°.

2) Mix your dry ingredients. Measure the flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar and salt into a large bowl and stir.
♥ By the way, Cream of Tartar is a natural substance - a byproduct of wine making. It makes a difference in this recipe - the biscuits turn out lighter and fluffier than without it.

3) Cut in the butter. There are several ways to do this - use your food processor, a pastry cutter, two knives, or use your fingers. But remember: don't let the butter get warm. Whatever method you use, do it quickly and work the dough as little as possible.

4) Add the milk. Whole milk is best, but skim will do. I often mix skim milk with a bit of cream to mimic whole milk.

5) Stir just until the milk is mixed into the flour.

6) Turn the dough onto your bread board or counter and knead quickly...1...2...3. Remember! Don't let the butter get warm!

7) Roll out to about 3/4" thickness and cut. I like to use my great-grandmother's biscuit cutter

Or, if you don't have a biscuit cutter, you can cut the dough into triangles.

8) Place the biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet - I like to use my insulated pan to help the biscuits bake evenly.

9) Bake at 450° for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

See those flaky layers? Now that's a biscuit :)

I've played around with this recipe a bit, using whole-wheat flour, or a mixture of wheat and spelt. The whole grains absorb the butter differently, so the biscuits aren't quite as light, but the flavor is fabulous.

You can serve your biscuits with butter, honey, and/or jam. They're great with sausage gravy, too.

So, who is going to be brave and try making homemade biscuits? It's a skill worth learning, believe me!

In other news, we're having "fun" at our house....

On Saturday we ripped out the carpeting in our living room, down to the bare floor.

Thatcher isn't too sure about this strange stuff that took the place of his carpet. Wynter took refuge in her bed.

But here's a preview of what the new floor will look like. I think I'm in love :)


  1. Everyone has a biscuit cutter. It's called a glass! But I love the idea of the triangles for something different.

    Speaking of something different, I love, love, love the floor. But I know Thatcher is going to want to spend more time on the couch. Or does he have a rug?

    1. I have to admit, I forgot completely about using a glass! I've always had my biscuit cutter. But I do use glasses for other round hamburger buns.

      And Thatcher has learned to like the bare floor already. He takes his bone in his mouth, runs half-way across the floor, and then lets the bone go so it skitters ahead of him while he chases it. He played that game over and over yesterday!

      But no couch for him. Not only does my husband NOT want animals on the furniture, but the jumping up and down can be hard on a Corgi's back when they're older. So we keep him off the couch. He does have a rug - but until he stops chewing EVERYTHING, it doesn't stay out all the time. :)

  2. Oh, so many things to love! The Pyrex dish, the biscuit cutter (I've only seen them in red and green) and then new floor. We just redid the floor in the kitchen, hallway, and one bedroom. We still have the living room and 3 more bedrooms and a bathroom. UGH. But it will be worth it!
    And your son's picture made me laugh out loud.

    1. I thought you'd like my Pyrex bowl, Virginia! Although, I never thought about it being retro until this minute. It was a wedding gift...which makes old. In fact, I have trouble believing I'm as old as it is!

      The old Pyrex bowls decorate the top of the kitchen cabinets. My mom got them for a wedding gift, which makes them 63 years old this year. They are a set of five, in solid colors. They're the ones I grew up with.

      And aren't new floors the best? The carpeting in this house was worn and stained when we bought the house (10 years old, and owned by two previous families with toddlers). I'm so happy to be replacing it! And I hope the laminate will help my allergies.

      The son. Yes. He's the one that you can tell "pose for a picture", and he actually does. My youngest son will give you his "Hey, ladies!" look. Pretty sleazy.

  3. These biscuits look nothing like the hard knobs I made yesterday from Bisquick! I have to get back to the homemade side of things! And I agree with Julie, the triangles are very pretty! Thanks for the cute Thatcher pics!

    1. Go for it, Piper! These are NOTHING like Bisquick biscuits!

  4. Oh -- the expression on Thatcher's face is priceless! He looks gobsmacked! Perhaps he's worried you'll toss him out as easily as you did the carpet. :-) Love the new flooring. I much prefer non-carpeting with pets. I don't care if it's tile or hardwood just so long as it's easy to mop up dirty paw prints!

    I'm in the crowd that has never made biscuits. Never had one either. Wonder if it's more of a down south thing? I take it that they are breakfast food? Instead of toast? Don't Ihave a lot of questions? :-)

    1. Kav! Never had a biscuit?

      They can be eaten anytime of day. People make sandwiches out of them for breakfast - an egg, a slice of sausage, maybe some cheese. You can also eat them like toast, or put gravy on them.

      We often have them for dinner, especially if I'm made soup, but haven't had time to make bread. When everyone is home, I make a double batch.

  5. I'm a biscuit purist - they gotta be round! might give 'em a try but kinda stressing with the 'don't let the butter get warm' business..I'm a fast eater not a fast cooker...

    1. It usually takes me about ten minutes to mix up these biscuits. The big thing is that you don't want the butter to get soft. If it does, stick the dough in the fridge for a few minutes.

      And it's not the end of the world if the butter gets a bit soft - but they end up cakey instead of flaky. :)

    2. but cakey IS the end of the world in biscuits LOL!
      I think my mom used Crisco in hers- probably instead of the butter. butter sounds better...

    3. Butter IS better! It not only tastes better, but it's much better for you!

  6. Ooo, beautiful biscuits, Jan. And the floor too. I make homemade biscuits just about every time we go to the ranch. Occasionally at home, but life is usually too rushed. And I could have sworn I shared my biscuit recipe, but I don't see it anywhere, so maybe I didn't. At any rate, mine are very quick and easy to make, though not near as flakey as yours. Still yummy, though. Like you said, especially with melting butter and jelly. Yum!

    1. My mouth started watering as I read your comment....

      I think I'm going to have to make biscuits for supper tonight. Who cares if we're having tacos. They go together, right?

    2. And, you know, biscuits and pie crusts are the only times where being flaky is good.

      And croissants. They should be flaky.

  7. I love biscuits!!!! LOVE THEM!!!! Oh, Jan, biscuits and honey are the most delicious thing EVER in the history of delicious things!!!! Yay, you.

    And Thatcher is getting so big! Oh, he's growing into his ears!!!!

    Love how cute he is!!!

    1. I love biscuits, too, and with that honey dripping off the edge? Oh, man, you'd better lean over your plate!

      Before we got Thatcher, I used to go to the breeder's blog ( and drool over the pictures of her dogs and the pups.

      But now? I think we ended up with the cutest of the bunch :)

      And I still have a series of children's books in mind: "The Adventures of Gus, the Cowboy Corgi," starring Thatcher's dad, of course :)

  8. I have tired, I really have. But I'm a biscuit murdered. They turn out like hockey pucks. HOWEVER I will try this one more time, just for you, Jan. :) :)

    I love you flooring!! Gorgeous.

    Now, I'm heading to bed. Just sent off my book! Yay! But I'm going on 2 hours of sleep. Feeling a little loops. :)


    1. That was supposed to say biscuit murderer. :)

    2. Well, I'm horrified at all the typos. Let's all pray there aren't any in the book since I was just typing in little changes at this point, not doing major writing. :)

    3. I was just thinking about your book when I saw the typos...and then you said you were going on 2 hours of sleep!

      Here's hoping and praying your brain was at top form when it needed to be! Typos are welcome here at the cafe :)

  9. Missy, I'm a biscuit murderer too. In fact, I murder all things baked. I can cook just fine thank you very much. Just can't bake. At. All. All my family and friends know not to let Pat bring dessert :))))