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The Best Flaky Homemade Biscuits Recipe

Baking can be Art

Baking can be Art

Tricks and Tips to making the flakiest homemade biscuits

This Baking Guide shares Tricks and Tips for making the flakiest homemade biscuits, possibly changing your biscuit making life forever! The truth of the matter is that no one sits around the family dinner table praising heavy, dense cake-like textured biscuits. However, when a biscuit is tall, flaky and tender while offering a rich buttery flavor, the praise can rarely be high enough. The point is this, if you struggle to make wonderfully flaky biscuit's for your family and friends, after reading this baking guide you will breathe a sigh of relief. The guides tricks and tips will give you courage and know-how so you will never fear making another heavy or dense cake-like biscuit again; flaky homemade biscuits are in your very near future!

5 Quick Tips For Making Flaky Homemade Biscuits

1. Will shortening make flakier biscuits than butter?

  • Yes. Shortening will produce a slightly flakier biscuit because it has serious leavening power. Shortening will also keep your biscuits fresher longer than those made with butter. However, swapping shortening for butter will maim the flavor of your biscuits drastically, and this is a feature I am not willing to sacrifice for a small gain in flakiness and shelf life. You can play with the idea of combining the two for a flavor and flake outcome that suits your personal taste (try varied ratios of butter to shortening, 25:75; 50:50; 75:25) until the perfect flake and buttery flavor for your taste is achieved.

More than one way to a flaky biscuit!

Adding butter and shortening are not the only way to create those flaky quick bread delights we call biscuits. For super-flaky biscuits, try folding the dough as you would for a sheet of puff pastry. Be gentle here; roll out the dough to a 3/8" thickness, fold in half, and gently roll it out again. The layers you fold in will create flaky layers inside your finished biscuits.

cold butter makes better biscuits and adds loads more flavor!

cold butter makes better biscuits and adds loads more flavor!

2. Is it really all that important to use cold butter when making flaky homemade biscuits?

  • Only one correct answer here, and it is a loud and resounding YES! The idea is to keep the butter from melting as you put your biscuit dough together, only allowing it to melt during the cooking process. As the cold butter melts inside the layers of dough, it leaves steam pockets and layers which are characteristic in perfect biscuits.
  • While the "cold" concept is in mind, it's a good idea to keep all of the ingredients cold, which keeps your butter cold longer. Not only should you freeze your butter before beginning to mix your biscuit dough — the butter should be so cold that it chips when you cut it into bits — but the milk or buttermilk should be pretty icy cold as well. Don't stop here; put your mixing bowl into the freezer for around 10 minutes to insure it's cold enough to prevent your butter from melting. Attention to this kind detail will result in those recipes your family will pass down for generations to come!

Make Your Own Buttermilk

No Buttermilk on hand? Make your own!

Most of the time a recipe won't call for more than 1-cup of buttermilk at a time. If you don't use buttermilk regularly, what's left can go to waist. You can replace the buttermilk with what is called "sour milk" made by adding 1-tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to 1-cup of whole milk, allowing it to stand for 5 minutes. (Dried buttermilk powder can also be used in place of fresh buttermilk.)

3. What is the difference between liquid dairy ingredients for homemade biscuits; milk, buttermilk, or cream? Does it even matter?

  • When you make biscuits using baking powder and milk you get a wholesome, delicious, and convenient quick bread. But possibly more important, you usually have all of the ingredients on hand in your home bakers pantry — flour, baking powder, milk, salt, and a bit of sugar — every day of the week. Many bakers swear by (and I am one of them) buttermilk, because it gives the biscuits that familiar old fashioned family style tangy flavor. But the secret reason is that the acid in buttermilk reacts in an explosive fashion when it gets together with the chemical leaveners (baking powder) giving buttermilk biscuits the highest rise achievable. In a recipe for cream biscuits, the cream replaces both the milk or buttermilk and butter, which deletes the need to cut the butter into the flour. You get a nicely fluffy and tender biscuit, but it will be without the lovely flakiness of either the baking powder or buttermilk biscuits.

Sharp Tools For Baking Are A Must

Only Sharp Tools Keep Your Biscuits Flaky!

Always use the sharpest cutting tools you have. A dull cutting utensil will cause the edges of your biscuits to get smash and stick to one another, which prevents the layers from rising freely and separating properly creating a flaky finished biscuit.

4. What is the best way to roll and cut biscuit dough?

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  • Kneading dough develops gluten in the flour resulting in a tough biscuit. So you really want to avoid handling the mixture, rolling, and cutting the dough to roughly. In actuality it is best to use a rolling pin as little as possible in getting your biscuit dough from the mixing bowl to the oven. Gently turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and very gently pat it into a ¾" thick disk. Lightly roll over the dough with the rolling pin to even out the surface. Then using a very sharp tool, cut out as many biscuits as you can from the disk. Place these on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Never re-roll the leftover scrap dough. Press it all together and smooth it out as gently as you can, forming it into another disk shape. Cutting the biscuits out with the very sharp biscuit cutter again. The second batch will not be as smooth on top as the first, but they will retain the flaky goodness that the first batch brings.



Cake flour 

7.5 to 8.5% 

Tender cakes and biscuits 

Southern all-purpose flour

7.5 to 9.5% 

Tender cakes and biscuits  

Bleached all-purpose flour 

9.5 to 12% 

Piecrusts, cookies, muffins, cakes 

Unbleached all-purpose flour

10 to 12%

Piecrusts, cookies, muffins, cakes, softer yeast breads like challah, yeast cakes and pastries

Bread flour

11.5 to 12.5%

Thick-crusted artisian breads, pizza


A Very Easy Rustic Buttermilk Biscuit Black Skillet Recipe (1 minute 36 second YouTube Video Biscuit lesson) I dare you to find more appropriate music for this

A hot oven from the first seconds of cooking makes all of  the difference when baking flaky biscuits!

A hot oven from the first seconds of cooking makes all of the difference when baking flaky biscuits!

Sugar Secrets

5. Why do biscuits have to be baked at such high temperatures?

  • Baking your biscuits at those scorching high temperatures of 425°F (220°C) and above, gets the butter in your biscuit recipe to melt very quickly, which produces the much needed steam for lifting your biscuits to maximum heights. At lower temperature say, 350°F (180°C), a much less dramatic rise takes place leaving a heavy biscuit. Another great result of high temperature baking is that less moisture will evaporate giving your baked biscuits a tender and moist outcome. Personally, I like to bake my biscuits at 500°F (260°C) to get every bit of moist goodness. But use caution, a thin line between done and burnt occurs in as little as 30 seconds at this high temperature. Don't over bake them, chances are they are done as soon as you see a golden brown exterior form. As soon as you see they are well-risen and just turning color, remove them from the oven. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes, during which time they will continue to cook from carry-over heat while firming-up internally.
BAking Bonus Tips!

BAking Bonus Tips!

"Freezing Flaky Homemade Biscuits"

  • Leftover biscuits may be frozen by placing them in a resealable plastic bag. Defrost them on a counter top and reheat them for one or two minutes in a 500°F (260°C) oven. They won't be as good as fresh, but they will get you by.
  • For the best results when freezing biscuits, freeze the uncooked cut biscuits rather than baking them first. You can bake these straight from the freezer adding a minute or two onto the cooking time. The biscuits will taste like you made the dough that same day.

Comments for Baking Guide - How to make the best flaky homemade biscuits...

Papa T on November 06, 2012:

Best biscuits I ever made was by following this process. Frozen butter and 500 degree oven along with not overworking the dough is absolutely critical.

Tammy on April 10, 2011:

I love to make homemade biscuits. I will often use a mixture of half bacon grease and half butter to make my biscuits. They come out mouthwatering and flaky.

Great hub with terrific pointers! I voted up!

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on April 05, 2011:

Oh my gosh, my mouth is watering! Great Hub! Your information, photos, images, and videos rock. ROCK!!!! I need to go make some biscuits RIGHT NOW.

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