Classic technique yields great results!
Biscuits were one of the first things I learned to bake independently as a child and I still adore making – and eating – them. I recently started wondering if the classic French folding technique that makes puff pastry so flaky could be applied to biscuits, and then I discovered that chef, educator and cookbook writer extraordinare Michael Ruhlman had already completed the research for me! I have modified his recipe to incorporate a little sugar and adjust the size and baking time, simply because that’s the way I like my biscuits. If you don’t already have a kitchen scale, you really should get one. There are great, inexpensive ones out there and the more I bake, the more I appreciate the precision of using a scale to measure ingredients; it’s easy and your results will be more consistent. This recipe takes a little longer than traditional ‘quick biscuit’ recipes but the extra steps of turning (folding) the dough then chilling it are worthwhile. Plus, you can do all the work the day before so in the morning all you need to do is cut, bake and eat the yummy biscuits!
- 9 ounces (255 grams) flour (1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) white sugar
- 3 ounces (85 grams) chilled butter, cut into small bits (1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon)
- 6.5 ounces (184 grams) milk (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
- Weigh the flour and add to a medium mixing bowl.
- Add the baking powder and salt; stir gently to combine.
- Weigh the butter then cut it into small bits.
- Add the butter to the flour mixture then carefully combine the two either by cutting the butter in using a pastry blender or by rubbing and pinching the butter into the flour. The butter should be well distributed and in tiny pieces no bigger than a pea.
- Pour in the milk and stir gently to combine just until it comes together as a dough (don’t worry about the chunks of butter in there – that’s a good thing!).
- Form the sticky dough into a 4-inch by 6-inch rectangle, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Unwrap the dough and dust it with flour. Gently pat the dough out to about three times its size on a floured counter, trying to maintain the rectangular shape.
- Fold it into thirds and pat it out again. Fold it in thirds one more time; press the folded dough down firmly then wrap it in the plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least an hour or until thoroughly chilled.
- Repeat the above patting, folding and chilling procedure two more times (two more sets of two turns each). After the last set of turns (folds), the dough is ready to be cut or you can wrap and chill it until ready to bake (it can rest for up to 12 hours at this point).
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375F.
- Pat the dough out to a half inch thick and cut using a very sharp knife into squares of approximately 1.5 inches in size. Be sure to cut the dough cleanly so you don’t have to twist or pull the squares apart (if you do, the layers may get a little compressed and your biscuits won’t puff up as much).
- Place the cut biscuit dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake in the centre of the preheated oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for just a few moments and serve warm with jam or cheese.
Makes approximately 9 – 12 1.5 inch biscuits (depending upon how thinly you pat the dough before cutting). Note that the recipe can be doubled or tripled by weight.