(Updated from May 10, 2014)
A good biscuit or pastry is soft, buttery, and flaky. Have you ever wondered what makes those biscuits, scones, and pastries so flaky? It’s the biscuit method, which is used to mix most biscuits and scones.
It is sometimes called the pastry method because it incorporates the same technique as for mixing pie dough. (There are some biscuit recipes that call for using the creaming method, but those biscuits turn out to be more cake-like.) This article will tell you all you need to know about the biscuit method.
What is the Biscuit Method?
In the biscuit method, butter or other fat is cut into the flour mixture. Then the liquids are added. In the heat of the oven, the butter melts, the water in the butter creates steam, and the product rises into flaky layers.
The Keys to Success
If there are keys to success with the biscuit method, they are: cut the butter in thoroughly—the mixture should look granular with no large particles—and use very cold butter. The butter should not melt before the dough reaches the oven.
Steps in the Biscuit Method
1. Measure the dry ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk them thoroughly to evenly disperse the ingredients.
2. Cut in the shortening, margarine, or butter with a pastry blender until the mixture is granular with particles no larger than kernels of grain.
3. Combine the liquid ingredients in another bowl.
4. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients. Stir the mixture together with a fork until the dough begins to agglomerate.
5. Remove the dough to a counter lightly dusted with flour. Knead it by patting the dough flat and folding it in half. Turn it ninety degrees and repeat the process. Continue doing this for a couple dozen times until the mixture is kneaded together. Do not over-knead.
6. Cut the scones or biscuits to shape and bake.