Bread is mostly flour mixed with a liquid. However, because of the complex chemistry of the starches and gluten in the flour, small changes in handling techniques and additional ingredients can make a big difference in the texture of the final product. I posted an updated recipe for light and flaky biscuits.
Although I have made these biscuits many times I still sometimes tinker with them. One bread I like is challah, a yeasted raised bread. Challah’s main difference from other breads is the number of eggs you add to the mix. I decided to see if this addition would work with a biscuit dough.
After Breakfast Note: It did, quite well.
Karl’s Egg Biscuits
2½+ cups flour, AP (see Note, step 10)
2 Tbs. potato flour (starch)
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2+ Tbs. Karl’s Orange Infused Sugar, separate uses
7 Tbs. unsalted butter, semi-frozen
3 large egg
½ cup milk, separate uses (I use 2 % lactose free)
Other things needed (order of use)
Large mixing bowl (I use a heavy Pyrex bowl 12 inches wide and four deep)
Pastry board, marble (optional)
Rolling pin (I use an 8” Chinese jiaozi roller)
2 inch round Biscuit cutter
10×14 inch lipped baking sheet
Note: About 15 minutes before you are ready to start baking, pre-heat your oven to 400º F.
1. Put a stick of butter (8 tablespoons) in the freezer for 20-30 minutes, until it is semi-frozen.
Tip: Putting a whole stick of butter in the freezer gives me a handle to keep my fingers away from the grater blades as I shave off seven tablespoons.
Note: You do not want the butter to be frozen solid, because it then becomes hard to grate.
2. Sift the flour, potato starch, 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 have not blended your sugar to break up the bits of zest, you may need to add the sugar after sifting, as the zest will get caught in the flour sifter.
3. Using a box grater, grate ¾ of the stick of frozen butter into the flour mixture.
Tip: Half way through, stir the butter shreds into the flour, so that they do not clump together.
4. Use a pastry cutter, to break the butter shreds into tiny bits.
Tip: Many recipes have you cut the butter into large lumps and then you break them up with the pastry cutter. While this eventually works, the heat created by the 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 thorough mix.
5. Preheat the oven to 375º F.
Note: I used to quick bake these biscuits at 425º F. However, I found that the tops of the biscuits over-browned before the center was cooked through. Over time, I have been lowering the baking temperature and extending the baking time to find the best results. Lower and slower works for me if it comes out with a perfect biscuit.
6. Put the eggs in a large measuring cup and lightly scramble them.
Tip: I use a fork.
7. Measure one half cup of milk and add some of it to the egg.
8. Scramble the milk/egg mixture well.
Tip: This allows you to scramble the eggs well, without splashing it all over.
9. Add the rest of the milk and mix it in.
10. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the milk mixture.
Tip: Many bakers obsess over measuring their flour and liquids—treating it like a chemistry project. I prefer to add a bit too much liquid at the start, so that I have a soft dough to work with. I then work in enough flour—during the kneading process—to give the dough my desired “feel.” A soft dough also makes it easier to roll out and fold the dough—see below.
Note: Keep the measuring cup close to hand. You will add some more milk to it to brush on the tops of the biscuits.
11. Use a spatula to combine the milk and flour mixtures, until most of the dry flour has been incorporated into the dough.
Tip: Unless you have cold hands—like my wife—you want to handle the dough as little as possible. Warm hands—like mine—will melt the butter.
12. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 7-8 times, until there is no visible dry flour.
Tip: Flour your hands and the kneading board well.
Note: If necessary, add more flour—as much as another half cup—to make a soft dough.
13. Form the dough into a ball and roll the dough out into a 14 X14 inch square.
Tip: Flour your rolling pin well, so that it does not stick and cause tears in the dough sheet.
Note: The dough sheet will be less than ¼ inch thick when you have it all rolled out.
14. Starting at the edge closest to you, fold one third of the dough sheet over the middle third.
Tip: You may need to use a bread board scraper to free the dough from your kneading surface.
15. Take the edge that is farthest from you and fold that third over the first two layers.
Tip: This is called a letter-fold.
Note: You will now have a rectangular piece of dough, three layers thick.
16. Letter fold the outer edges of this rectangle in to the center.
Note: This will produce a thick four inch square of dough nine layers thick.
17. Let the dough rest for two minutes.
Tip: This gives the gluten bonds time to relax and makes it easier to roll out again.
18. While the dough is resting, line a large lipped baking sheet with parchment paper.
Tip: I used to grease my baking sheets, but the biscuits tended to stick and burn. The parchment paper needs no grease.
Note: For my last birthday, daughter Miriam got me a set of Sur la Table baking pans. These pans have a non-stick, pebbled surface that is amazing. I do not needed parchment paper when I bake with these pans, biscuits and even burned on sauces come right off.
19. Re-flour your board and roll the dough square into another 14 X14 inch square.
Note: Within each layer of dough, the cold butter will be squished into thin flakes, trapped in a gluten web.
20. Letter-fold the dough sheet again.
Tip: First the top and bottom edges and then the sides.
Note: You will now have a four inch square of dough with 91 layers.
21. Roll the dough out to one half inch thick.
Note: This will be about an eight inch square of dough.
22. Cut the biscuits out with a 2 inch biscuit cutter.
Tip: I get about seven biscuits from this first cut.
Note: It is important to use a sharp-edged biscuit cutter to cut out your biscuits. I used to use a jar lid as a biscuit cutter. The dull edge of the lid pinched the layers of dough together around the edge of the biscuit—instead of slicing through each layer. Instead of being free to rise nice and evenly, the biscuits puffed up in the center and warped around the edges as the layer’s edges stuck together.
23. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet about an inch apart.
24. Gather up the remaining scraps and form them, into dough ball.
25. Role flat again and cut out 2-3 more biscuits.
Tip: I roll out this dough ball and letter fold it to create more layers.
Note: At the end of this process I am usually left with about a biscuits worth of dough that it is hard to cut into an even biscuit. I like cinnamon rolls but the wife will not let me make them as being too tempting. I turn this last bit of dough into a cinnamon bun. I roll it into a round and place a pat of butter, a tablespoon of sugar, and a good sprinkling of cinnamon in the center. pinching in the edges, I seal the filling into the bun.
26. Brush the tops of the biscuits with milk.
Tip: Use the original measuring cup and the pastry brush.
27. Bake the biscuits at 375° F, on the middle rack, for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Tip: Rotate the baking sheet after 10 minutes.
28. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack for 5 minutes to cool.
29. Serve warm with butter and jam/marmalade.