For some reason, I have never made biscuits from scratch. I frequently make scones for breakfast, but I have always depended on Bisquick for biscuits. Part of the reason for this is that I really did not understand the difference between the two. While I was making biscuits for biscuits and gravy, I discovered that they are easy and, by themselves, the are a delicious and versatile bread.
British scones and American biscuits—not to be confused with British biscuits (American cookies)—look almost the same. I found by comparing several recipes that the major differences are that scones contain an egg, more sugar, and usually cream as the mixing liquid. American biscuits usually use milk or buttermilk as their liquid component. Since they are not as sweet, American biscuits may include more savory additions, like spices and cheese.
Karl’s American Biscuits
2 cups flour, AP
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, frozen
¾ cup whole milk
Optional: Cheese, herbs, spices, onions, peppers, etc (limited only by your imagination)
1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar several times into a large bowl.
Tip: Repeated sifting helps distribute the ingredients evenly through the mix.
Note: If you wish to make a more savory biscuit, you may add herbs and/or spices at this point.
2. Using a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture.
Tip: Stir the butter shred into the flour so that they do not clump together.
3. Use a pastry cutter, to break the butter shreds into tiny bits.
Tip: Many recipes have up use a pastry cutter on large lumps of butter. While this eventually works, the heat created by repeated chopping starts to warm the butter. With the frozen butter shreds you only have to chop the butter a few times to get a through mix.
4. Preheat the oven to 425º F.
5. Add most of the milk to the dry ingredients and use a spatula to combine them.
Tip: If necessary, add a bit more milk to make a soft dough.
6. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 10-15 times.
Tip: To make a cheese biscuit, fold in some shredded sharp cheese while you are kneading the dough.
7. Roll the dough to one half inch thick and cut the biscuits out with a 2 inch biscuit cutter.
8. Place the biscuits on a lightly greased baking tray and brush the tops with the remaining milk.
9. Bake the biscuits at 425° F, on the middle rack, for 12 minutes or until golden brown.