Batch after batch, I’ve tweaked and perfected my recipe so you can enjoy mega flaky biscuits, too. Ditch the can – these scratch made biscuits are where it’s at.
I’ve long had a biscuit recipe on this site. It started as a regular recipe, and then morphed into a guide for the top 5 tips for perfect buttermilk biscuits. But even since that time, where I was confident enough to claim the “perfect” biscuit recipe, my technique has changed. And in fact, even the ingredients have been tweaked slightly.
So while I stand by the original recipe (it works, and it’s great!), I felt it was time for an update. The biggest difference? I’ve ditched the biscuit cutter and gone for square biscuits. I just seem to like the extra crispy edges better.
Unfortunately, the one thing that a recipe cannot teach is feeling for the right consistency. The perfect dough is not too sticky, but not too dry. So many factors can influence it. Even if you follow my ingredients to the miligram, there are always variables (like humidity and altitude) at play. This is something you will learn with time, and practice. Don’t be discouraged – any biscuits you make with this recipe will still be better than no biscuits at all!
Here are the essential tips to achieving flaky biscuit perfection:
You should absolutely buy a pastry/biscuit cutter for the dough stage – I swear by it. It keeps your hot hands out of the cold butter. And cold butter is what makes flaky layers.
You must use fresh baking powder. Don’t even worry about expiry dates, go by the date you opened the can. If it was more than two months ago, throw it out and get fresh baking powder. Old powder loses it’s magic rising mojo.
You must cut the sides off the dough “brick” – releasing the sides allows the biscuits to rise. More about this under Instructions.
You must work quickly while the butter is cold, and avoid overworking the dough.
Use good quality butter – European butter is recommended as it has a higher fat percentage. Cultured butter is even better.
If you don’t have buttermilk, use regular milk. Just add a splash of white vinegar and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before using.
Cut the butter into small cubes, then place it in a bowl and into the freezer while you prep the remaining ingredients.
Put the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder into a bowl. Stir with the biscuit cutter to roughly combine.
Toss in the shortening cubes, and add the chilled butter from the freezer. Working quickly, use the pastry cutter to incorporate the fat into the flour mixture. Instead of just rocking the cutter back and forth, I prefer using a twisting motion. So, I cut down into the flour, and do a quarter twist at the bottom, then repeat. Keep going until you have small pea sized chunks of butter in the flour mix.
Stir in 3/4 of the milk until the mix just comes together. It should appear quite crumbly still. Tip out the dough onto a floured surface. If the dough is too sticky or wet, scatter more flour over it.
Knead lightly a few times to bring it all together. Sprinkle on a little more flour as required to stop it sticking. Press dough out gently with your hands then fold it in on itself – bring the right hand side into the middle, then bring the left hand side over the right. Press down gently and repeat. This helps form the layers. Quickly shape into a rectangle, making sure the dough is at least 3/4 inch thick.
Use a sharp knife to cut away the very edges of your rectangle (similar to cutting away the crust on a piece of bread). Now, cut the rectangle into square biscuits. Try to get as many biscuits out of this step as you can. Gently re-knead the extra dough to cut more, but the biscuits from the second pass will never be as high or as pretty as the first.
Arrange the biscuits on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with remaining buttermilk. Place the tray into the oven and cook 7 minutes. Rotate the tray and cook a further 7 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.