Wednesday, July 28, 2010

~ Tips for making a good biscuits ~

To make a good biscuit, the correct mixing of the ingredients is crucial. Although you could use an electric mixer I prefer to mix the dough by hand using either a pastry blender, two knives or just my fingertips. Mixing by hand helps to prevent over mixing of the dough.

To begin, the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder/baking soda, and salt) are whisked or sifted together in a large bowl.

Next the butter is cut into the flour until it looks like coarse crumbs. It is important that the butter be cold so when it is worked into the flour mixture it becomes small, flour- coated crumbs, not a smooth dough. This method is similar to how a pie dough is made and gives the biscuit a wonderful delicate and flaky texture.

The wet ingredients are then added to the flour mixture. Only mix the dough until it comes together.

I cannot stress enough that this dough should not be overworked and that a light hand is needed. If you end up with a hard and doughy biscuit, you will know to mix the dough less the next time.

When the dough is mixed, gather it up in your hands and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough a few times to make it a cohesive mass and then roll to 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thickness. Use a lightly floured cookie cutter and cut into rounds. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and brush with the egg wash. Using an egg wash gives the biscuits a nice appearance and helps with browning.

Biscuits need to be baked in a hot oven so the dough sets quickly thereby producing a light biscuit with a golden brown top and bottom with white sides. They are done when they are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the scone comes out clean. The texture of the interior should be light and soft, and white in color. Cool on a wire rack.

If you want crusty biscuits, cool them uncovered. If a softer crust is desired, then wrap the hot biscuits in a clean dish towel.

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