Biscuits in My Kitchen—Products, Tips, Equipment - Biscuits: Sweet and Savory Southern Recipes for the All-American Kitchen (2015)

Biscuits: Sweet and Savory Southern Recipes for the All-American Kitchen (2015)

Biscuits in My Kitchen—Products, Tips, Equipment



When making biscuits, the type of flour matters. Light, flaky, and tender biscuits require the use of soft winter wheat flour. White Lily is the only brand of soft winter wheat flour I use, and it’s the one I recommend. Soft winter wheat flour has less protein and less gluten than other types of flour. This results in dough that is more tender and flaky, both highly desirable qualities in modern biscuits. All my recipes have been tested with White Lily. I can’t guarantee you’ll get the same results from other brands or other types of flour. White Lily is the brand my grandmother used and it has been on the market since 1883.

Unsalted butter is preferred to salted butter. I ordinarily use self-rising flour, which has salt added. The butter must be cold and left in pieces the size of peas to get optimum flakiness from the dough. As the cold butter starts to melt in the dough while cooking, tiny air pockets form, which results in little layers of flakiness. There’s not a particular brand I recommend, although I prefer organic from cows that haven’t been fed antibiotics and hormones.

Buttermilk, and any dairy used in biscuits, should be very cold and full fat, although it’s sometimes difficult to find full fat dairy products in grocery stores. If you can’t find full fat, get the highest fat content available.


✵ Dip your biscuit cutter in flour to prevent it sticking to the dough. Always cut straight down and don’t twist to get a better rise from the biscuits. It’s harder for you to stand up straight when your underwear’s twisted. The same holds true for biscuits.

✵ For a crunchier exterior, place biscuits apart on the baking sheet. For a softer exterior, place the biscuits touching. Biscuits that have been layered sometimes rise so high that it’s easy for them to fall over. I always place those biscuits touching for more support.

✵ After cutting out the biscuits, gather the scraps, layer them, and gently pat them out to approximately the same thickness of the original dough. Layering and patting, instead of balling up the scraps, will make the second batch of cutouts just as pretty as the first.

✵ There is an art to biscuit making. First, have faith and pray for grace. Next, don’t rely on a recipe to tell you the correct proportion of wet to dry ingredients. Make sure the dough is wet and sticky when you turn it out onto a floured surface. Sprinkle the wet dough with flour and gently work it into the dough, adding more as needed, until it’s no longer sticky and it holds its shape. Rely on the dough and your hands to let you know when the dough is just right. The more you make biscuits, the better you will develop a feel for this. When following my recipes, you will always need more flour than called for in the recipe. The extra amount needed will vary depending on many factors, including types of ingredients used. A cup of buttermilk results in wetter dough than a cup of sour cream, for example. For that matter, different brands of buttermilk have different viscosity. For this reason, I don’t indicate the amount of extra flour needed but, rather, give the instructions to continue adding flour and gently knead it in until the dough is no longer sticky and holds its shape.

✵ Cut, unbaked biscuits freeze well. Place them in a single layer on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet and freeze overnight. The next morning, transfer them to a sealable freezer bag (I use this method for freezing my blueberries, blackberries, and citrus slices). Take out the number of biscuits you need and bake in a preheated oven at the regular temperature for about five additional minutes or until tops are golden brown. If desired, brush tops with melted butter or cooking oil during last five minutes of bake time.


You need a bowl big enough to move around in. A large mixing bowl will usually suffice if making one batch of biscuits at a time. I use a mixing bowl that I’ve had longer than I’ve had my husband. In fact, it was a wedding gift.

For cutting in the fat, you’ll need either a pastry cutter or forks. I prefer to rub in the butter so no additional equipment is needed other than my fingers and thumb.

A wooden spoon is preferred to stainless steel for stirring in liquid because I think it’s a little kinder to the dough.

Turning out the dough onto a floured tea towel, nonstick mat, or waxed paper makes clean up easier. Of the three, I prefer a tea towel.

I have a set of three biscuit cutters that are 2, 2½, and 3 inches. If you don’t have biscuit cutters, you can use a small glass. In my neck of the woods, there’s been a passel of biscuits cut out over the years with Vienna sausage cans and potted meat cans. (Biscuits don’t have to be round. It’s perfectly acceptable to cut out squares with a pizza cutter or sharp knife.)

For baking sheets, I prefer to cover them a Silpat baking mat instead of greasing them. I’ve never had a biscuit, or anything else, stick to one of those mats, which I’ve had for several years. They are a worthwhile investment.

Cast-iron skillets are the ideal cooking vessel for cat head biscuits. I use a cast-iron skillet for cut biscuits if I have a batch small enough to fit in one skillet. The size of baking sheets accommodates larger batches of cut biscuits better than skillets. My preferred brand for new cast-iron skillets is Lodge. I have several hand-me-down skillets and cast-iron pieces from unknown manufacturers. When I’m in the market for new pieces, I shop for Lodge exclusively. The skillets are high quality from a good American company.

Dough can either be rolled out with a rolling pin or patted out with your fingers. It’s a personal preference and both methods are acceptable. If using a rolling pin, make certain the rolling and top of the dough is sufficiently floured to prevent sticking. Roll with a light touch.

Standard dry and liquid measuring cups and measuring spoons are also necessary. I measure dry ingredients instead of weighing them.