My Pathetic Biscuits

by Wendy Copley on September 8, 2011

When I saw a recipe for biscuits and gravy in the most recent issue of Family Fun magazine they looked so yummy that I wanted to try them immediately. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any sausage in the house so I couldn’t make the gravy, but we did have all the stuff for the biscuits, so I decided to make those. Don’t they look fluffy and yummy?

Biscuits and Gravy from Family Fun magazine

The article showed a kid making the biscuits and my boys are always game for a baking project so I put them to work.

Fixin' lame biscuits

First, I had them stir together the flour and baking powder with a couple of whisks. Augie decided to pretend his was the claw from Toy Story 3 and he raised it up in the air over his head.

Fixin' lame biscuits

He got flour all over his head and shirt, but that’s to be expected when you’re baking, right?

Fixin' lame biscuits

After the dry ingredients were mixed, I had the boys cut the butter up. They very much enjoyed using the knives, but when I asked them to try to cut the butter into the flour, they lost interest and took off to play Beyblades and scream. I quickly finished putting the dough together, cut the biscuits out and threw them in the oven.

This is how they came out:

Fixin' lame biscuits

Do you remember that picture of the fluffy biscuits from up at the top of the post? Let me refresh your memory:

Biscuits and Gravy from Family Fun magazine

I think it would be fair to say that I NAILED IT! Don’t you?

Fixin' lame biscuits

OK, so maybe I didn’t.

They were a lot more like crackers than they were like biscuits. At first I thought the problem was that my baking powder was old, but I tried again yesterday with a brand new container and they came out only slightly fluffier.

Fixin' lame biscuits

They tasted really good though. Wyatt was especially fond of them and he ate at least half the batch with blackberry jam on top. In fact, mid-way through his second one he said, “Mom, you know what you should do for your job? You should be a baker!”

Bless his little misinformed heart!

So tell me biscuit bakers? What the heck am I doing wrong? What do I have to do to get fluffy biscuits?


Inspired by my biscuit failure, I started a conversation over on the Horizon Back to School Community about cooking failures. Come tell us about your most recent flub!

I am compensated for my time as a community leader for the Horizon BlogFrog community, but I assure you they did not encourage me to screw up my baked goods.

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  • Heather Young

    over-stirring/beating the batter can usually cause the biscuits to lose some fluffiness

  • Hey!  I’m with Heather!  The trick is that you want the butter to stay solid…just very, very, very broken up.  If the butter is too melty (and the dough gets sort of moist?)  then it will weight it down.  So, I’d say make sure your butter is COLD and get it incorporated without letting it melt too much? 

  • Min

    I agree with everyone else.  You must not over mix.   I actually only mix biscuits 15 strokes.  Also, cold buttermilk, cold butter, and I actually keep flour in the freezer for biscuits and pies.

  • OK, sounds like it’s pretty likely I’m over-handling the dough. I was careful to keep the dough cold (butter from the freezer, I ran cold water over my hands frequently, etc.) but the recipe called for folding the dough over and pressiing it out with my fingers 3 or 4 times. Is there a better technique? THANKS for the advice!

  • Alison

    Unrealted to this post, but comments are close on your previous post.  I wanted to thank you for yesterday’s post about getting your kids to eat healthy.  I’ve been really struggling with my 2.5 year old lately.  I’m so inspired (and in awe!) or your lunches and meals.  It was nice to see that while you’re putting out good food, you also sometimes have struggles in getting them to eat it!  Thanks for sharing!

  • Krista

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/magazine/you-are-making-your-biscuits-wrong.html

    Try this article the NY Times featured a few weeks ago…

  • right on with your previous comments…need cold butter and not too much mixing!

  • Lisa Galarneau

    This happened to me recently, too!  Baking science confounds me.

  • Nancy

    I stir the dry ingredients with a whisk to incorporate some air into the mix without actually having to sift everything together, (I’m kind of lazy like that,) although you could sift instead if you want.  Folding the dough over a couple of times on a lightly floured board / countertop helps to build up the flaky layers and is an important step; perhaps you are patting it out too thin.  Try leaving it twice as thick but half as big to see if that heos.

  • Nancy

    That was supposed to read “helps” in my previous comment. ( The comment box wasn’t displaying properly.)  As well, perhaps your dough was a bit dry, try adding another tsp or two of liquid; my dough is usually a bit sticky before I start to lightly knead it.  It will become less sticky as it picks up some of the flour from the board.  One last suggestion – the type of flour is quite important.  If you are using a flour that is sold as ideal for baking bread, it will likely have too much gluten and will result in a less tender or tough biscuit.

    I make a really yummy nondairy version due to an allergy in the family and it is flakiest, most tender version I know.  2C all purpose flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 1/2 tsp white sugar, 1/2 tsp cream of tarter, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 C margarine (or butter), 2/3 C soymilk (or milk)  Bake @ 450 for 10 to 12 minutes.  I often make a half batch and bake them in our little toaster oven.

  • Molly

    Wendy, I was never able to get biscuits to be light and fluffy, however I use a no fail recipe from Lucinda Scala Quinn (check out her Mad Hungry website) and it works everytime. I don’t pay attention to how much I am stirring it, although I stir it mainly to just mixed, and I have made them 3x now and they come out great every time.

  • Molly

    I use this recipe.  I put parchment paper down instead of oiling baking sheet.
    http://www.marthastewart.com/316713/flaky-buttery-biscuits

  • Luv Abby

    Hiya from Australia! I have never made biscuits but have heaps of experience with our scones which are tall and fluffy. You might need to sit the “biscuits” closer together on the tray so they help each other rise! happy baking!

  • Megan Smith

    My biscuits used to always come out too thin as well, until one day I just started rolling them out thicker. And that has worked surprisingly well. I realize with this recipe you’re using your hands and not a rolling pin, so I guess just try not to squish them as much? 🙂 With all these great suggestions, I see many more batches of biscuits in your future!

  • Amanda

    did you use baking soda? the recipe calls for baking powder

  • Oops! I said “baking soda” up above (since edited) but I actually used baking power. That’s totally something I’ve done though — just not this time!

  • Kendra

    Around here when we make scones of biscuits we “cut” the butter into the flour with our fingers. Grind it in with your fingers but be sure your palms are facing up. I know it sounds weird, but it works. And, as others mentioned, the less you mess with them the better they’ll be. Think of it as quick bread of muffins. Also note that if you cut them in circles like FF did, your first roll out will be the best.. the next rolling of dough {from scraps} will be a bit less fluffy. 😀

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