5 Simple Tips for Baking Taller, Flakier Biscuits
There are an almost endless number of biscuits recipes, each with their own tips and tricks for improving different elements of the baked good, but ultimately they're all after the same thing: a flaky, burnished biscuit that comes out of the oven buttery and tall. That height, the way the dough puffs up and creates flakiness and layers, is often an indicator of a great biscuit. But it's difficult to know exactly what contributes to that stature. If your biscuits aren't reaching the great heights that you'd like them to, these five tips will help you get there.
Don't overwork the dough.
When it comes to isolating elements that help build height in a biscuit, how you work the dough is probably the most commonly overlooked. With tender pastries like pie crust and biscuits, you're trying to develop as little gluten as possible in the dough, which keeps your treats from becoming tough. Working with very, very cold ingredients is helpful, as is working quickly to make sure the heat from your hands doesn't melt the butter.
Many home biscuit makers are looking for a uniform dough. (An understandable instinct). However, your biscuit dough should be uneven and barely stay together — that's what will help create those airy pockets of buttery goodness.
In biscuit-making, height and flakiness go hand in hand. Why? Because the layers of butter that get compressed and stacked as you build your biscuits are what create those flakey biscuit bits, and they also create steam in the oven — which helps the biscuits to expand as tall as possible.
Most biscuit recipes will tell you to fold or stack the dough in on itself once or twice, rolling it out in between stacking. If your favorite recipe isn't yielding the height that you'd like to see, consider adding an extra fold or two, which will create more layers. I've found that four folds is a good number: Any more than that and the biscuits can actually get too tall and flop over onto their side.
Go for clean cuts.
Whether you're making round or square biscuits, be sure you're using a knife or biscuit cutter, and that you're not twisting as you cut. It's important to create a clean cut that won't smoosh those outside layers onto one another, as that will bind the layers together and inhibit the puffing that creates height.
Bake them close to each other.
Often in baking, recipes will instruct you to place items far enough away from each other that they won't touch. Biscuits are an exception to this rule: Placing them close to one another on your baking sheet actually helps them push each other up, as they impede each other from spreading outward and instead puff up skywards.
Keep the oven hot.
When baking buttery treats like biscuits, the key is to bake them at a temperature where the water in the butter turns quickly to steam. This steam is a big part of how the biscuits achieve their height, as it evaporates up and out. Be sure your oven is fully preheated (depending on your recipe, you'll be looking at a temperature between 425 and 475 degrees Fahrenheit), and use an oven thermometer to make sure the temperature inside the oven is the same as the one the oven display says.
Finally, resist the temptation to open the oven part way through baking. Doing so will let a significant portion of heat out and can cause your biscuits to fall. Instead, keep an eye on them through the window in your oven, and wait to take them out until they're bronze, flakey and sky-high.
This story originally appeared on allrecipes.com