Mistakes Everyone Makes When Baking Biscuits, which can be stressful when you’re trying to make the perfect flaky, buttery biscuit.
But don’t worry! With a few easy tips, you can avoid these common mistakes and always bake the perfect biscuits.
When making biscuits, there are a lot of things to keep in mind, from mixing the dough to cutting the cookies.
In this piece, we’ll talk about the most common mistakes people make when baking biscuits and give you some tips on how to make sure your biscuits always turn out great.
So let’s dive in!
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Cutting the butter too big
One of the most important parts of bread is butter. Without it, cookies would just be dry balls of dough that needed some fat. Butter is what gives cakes their height, soft texture, and rich flavor.
Land O’Lakes, a company that makes a lot of butter, says that when cold pieces of butter go into the oven, they melt and make air pockets. These air pockets are what give biscuits their fluffy layers.
The way of putting cold butter into flour is called the biscuit method, and it works well. To do this, butter is added to the flour before any liquids are added.
The butter is then cut into smaller and smaller pieces until the mixture becomes mealy and you can see small pieces about the size of a pea. It’s important that your pieces of butter aren’t too big.
If they are, this can make things hard when the other ingredients are added to the flour and butter. This will make cookies that are mostly flour and have holes where the butter used to be, according to Fine Cooking.
Cutting the butter too small
Cutting the butter too big is just as bad as cutting the butter too small. If you cut the butter into small pieces, it can lead to two main problems.
The first is that you might accidentally work the dough too much and end up with a tough biscuit (Land O’Lakes). The other problem is that you won’t get beautiful, flaky layers without those pea-sized pieces of butter. There won’t be any butter that can melt.
Most of the time, it’s best to stay away from cooking tools like electric mixers when cutting butter so that it doesn’t get too small.
Since these cream the butter instead of cutting it, they don’t belong in the cookie world. Nellie’s Free Range says that it’s best to cut the butter in by hand, either with a dough cutter, a fork, or even your hands.
You can use a food processor, but you should keep a close eye on it so you don’t cut the butter too much.
If you care about the size of your butter chunks, you can use a box grater to grate frozen butter right into your flour. This will make sure that your butter chunks are always the right size. This will make pieces that are neither too large nor too small.
Using room-temperature butter
While we’re talking about butter, there’s something else you should know. When making cookies, you should only use cold butter. The best butter is either very cold or even frozen. Really, the colder the better; now is not the time for butter that is at room temperature.
When you use cold butter, it doesn’t mix into the dough before you want it to.
Remember how we said that mixing too much can make cookies that are hard?
The same goes for butter that is at room temperature. If the butter isn’t cold when it goes into the oven, it won’t be able to hold its shape and let out the tiny pockets of steam that give the biscuit its beautiful flakes (via Nellie’s Free Range).
Most likely, your biscuits will turn out to be more like shortbread. Still delicious, but definitely not a biscuit. All of the butter should be cold for a fluffy crust and a crispy top.
Not using buttermilk
Buttermilk cookies are a sign of the South. Buttermilk isn’t just there for looks; it’s there for a reason. It works as both a leavener to make the cookies rise and a tenderizer to make the crumb soft and delicate (via Of Batter and Dough).
Taste of Home says that the acid in the buttermilk softens the gluten, which is the protein that keeps baked goods together. This acid also mixes with baking soda to make it rise and get more volume.
If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, you can use whole milk mixed with vinegar or lemon juice instead. Mayonnaise can work as both the acid and the fat in a soft cake, which is surprising and a little bit of a trick.
If you don’t have anything acidic in your kitchen, you can try replacing the baking soda with baking powder, but keep in mind that the amount you need to use will change.
Using the wrong flour
You might think that the bag of all-purpose flour you have in your cupboard will make good cakes.
Why wouldn’t you?
Its name is “all-purpose,” right?
Well, the truth is that you could make cookies with it, but it’s not the best way to do it. Tests of different brands have shown over and over again that there are many wrong flours, but only one right flour for making cookies.
Cooking on the Side tried out three different kinds of flour: Gold-Medal All-Purpose with baking powder and salt added, White Lily self-rising, and a store brand self-rising.
Allrecipes went one step further and tested six different types, including fan favorites like Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur. They both came to the same conclusion: White Lily is the answer.
When made with this brand, the cookies were soft and light, and they rose to a great height. It makes sense that Chick-Fil-A only uses this brand of flower in their popular biscuits.
The reason has to do with how science works. White Lily is made with low-protein wheat, which the company says has 11% protein.NPR says that a lower protein level keeps the biscuits from making too much gluten.
This keeps the biscuits soft and lets the leavening agents do their thing.
Undermixing the dough
You have everything you need to make it: You have the best flour for making biscuits and the butter is cold and cut into the right size pieces. Now we need to put everything together. Don’t ruin your perfectly good dough by making it wrong.
First of all, you don’t want to mix your items too little. This should be easy to spot because the undermixed dough will be crumbly and probably won’t stick together.
Because of this, it will be very hard to roll out. When you don’t mix enough, the liquid (in this case, buttermilk) doesn’t get spread out evenly, and gluten bonds don’t form in the dough.
Both of these things make it possible for the dough to keep its shape (via Baking Kneads). If your dough is breaking and doesn’t stick together like it should, give it a few more light mixes and see if that helps.
Overmixing the dough
There is no such thing as mixing too much of a good thing. Food52 says that overmixing cookie dough can be just as bad as not mixing it enough.
When you mix the dough too much, too much gluten can form. This makes cookies that are tough and chewy. The dough will stick together too well, and you won’t end up with the nice, light biscuits you want.
Overmixing can also cause the butter to break up into smaller pieces and mix too much with the dough, which can lead to many of the problems already mentioned.
We don’t want either of these in our cookies. In this case, having less is more. When making biscuits, mix them as little as possible until all the ingredients are properly mixed, and then stop. Do not pass go, do not take $200. Your cookies will be grateful.
Cutting your biscuits incorrectly
How you cut your cookies makes a big difference in how they turn out. A lot of people think it’s easy: take your favorite cutter, press and twist it, and out pops a perfectly round biscuit that’s ready for the oven. Surely anyone who has ever played with Play-Doh can do it? Wrong.
The first thing you need to cut cookies is a tool that is sharp. King Arthur Baking says that a dull cutter is more likely to press and seal the sides instead of cutting straight through.
This is also why it’s not a good idea to use a cup or glass instead of a real cutter. The dull edges of the cup will press but not cut. If you don’t have a biscuit maker handy, you can use a sharp knife instead. Plus, making biscuits square means you get more biscuits and don’t lose any dough.
When cutting, you should also make sure that the knife goes straight down and back up. Don’t turn! Cook’s Info says that turning your cutter will also cause the dough to seal, which will stop your biscuits from rising the right way.
Reusing your dough too many times
We know how tempting it is. The cookie dough has been cut, but now it looks like a patchwork of pieces.
You want to roll it out again and make more because cookie dough is so good that it shouldn’t go to waste. But you have to fight the urge. If you roll out dough more than once or twice, it can cause problems.
As you roll, the gluten links form and get tighter, so you could end up with a dough that gets harder and harder to work (from The Spruce Eats).
There are a few things you can do if you don’t want to waste any biscuit dough, which we wouldn’t blame you for.
The Spruce Eats says that instead of rolling out the dough and cutting it into shapes, you should just roll the dough into balls.
If you prefer to use a traditional cutter, The Kitchn suggests freezing any extra scraps. You can then add them to soups and stews as a quick and easy dumpling replacement.
You can also cook these messed-up pieces as they are. They might look weird, but they’ll taste great.
Not chilling your dough
Again, it is very, very important to use chilled items when making biscuits. One tip for making biscuits is to chill the flour ahead of time and try not to touch the dough with your hands so you don’t warm it up.
You can avoid problems like this by doing one simple thing: put your dough in the fridge before you bake it. King Arthur Flour says that all you have to do is put your baking sheet with the cut dough in the fridge for a while.
This will give the gluten time to relax and make the dough softer. It will also give any melted butter time to harden again. Everyone wins.
But wait, if biscuit dough needs to be kept in the fridge, does that mean that it can also be frozen? It sure does! Cookie dough freezes very well.
Taste of Home says that all you need to do is put your cut biscuit dough on a baking sheet and freeze it. Once the dough has been frozen into pucks, put them in a freezer bag so you can use them when you want fresh cookies.
When it’s time to bake, you don’t even have to let them thaw; just put them in the oven and bake them for 5–10 minutes longer than the recipe says.
Setting the oven temperature too low
Most baked goods are best when they are cooked at a lower temperature than biscuits. Cookies are usually fine when baked at 350 degrees, but biscuits would likely be soft and flat if they were baked at that temperature.
Southern Kitchen says that biscuits need a high heat of at least 425 degrees so that the steam from the butter and buttermilk can make the biscuits rise. You can’t make a tall cookie without that steam.
While we’re at it, it might be a good idea to check how hot your oven is inside. Handle the Heat says that even if your oven says it is at a certain temperature, it could still be too low.
Bon Appetit says that the temperature of an oven can be off by up to 75 degrees. There is a simple way to check on your oven, though.
A cheap oven gauge can help you make sure that your oven is always at the right temperature and that your food turns out perfectly every time.
When it comes to flour, though, measurements aren’t as easy as they seem. If a recipe tells you to measure flour by weight, you should buy a digital cooking scale so you can get the weight right.
Still, many recipes call for flour measured in cups. The problem is that you could end up with way too much flour in your mix if you don’t measure your cup properly.
The Spruce Eats tried different ways to measure flour and found that if the flour is scooped the wrong way, it can add up to 20% more flour to a recipe. That’s a big change.
Love & Lemons says that besides measuring, using a spoon is the most accurate way to measure flour. Use the spoon to fluff up your flour to get rid of any lumps or dense spots.
Then, lightly scoop the flour into your measuring cup with the spoon. Do not pack your flour or press on it in any way. When the measuring cup is full, level it off with the flat back of a knife, and you should have a perfect cup of flour.
Isn’t it a little hypocritical to say this after scaring you with a whole piece about baking mistakes you’ve probably made? Probably. But it’s true. Biscuits are very easy to mess up. If you’ve ever done any of these biscuit sins, you probably still had a biscuit that you could eat.
If you’ve decided to make your own biscuits instead of buying them, don’t worry so much about getting everything just right. Baking is meant to be a quiet thing to do.
Delish says it’s one of the best ways to calm down and be more aware. It is a multi-sensory exercise that can make you lose track of time and make you feel calm.
Plus, practice makes perfect, so if the first batch doesn’t turn out the way you wanted, you can always eat them and try again later. We don’t think it will be hard for you to find people to try out your cookies.
Using an electric mixer
The whole point of convenience things is to make life easier. But don’t grab that electric mixer just yet to make cookies! Using a stand-up mixer or a hand mixer is a safe way to make your biscuits flatten out.
When we make biscuits, we don’t want to beat the butter like we do when we make cookies or cakes. We need to cut the butter into the dough instead.
When you cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer, the butter will melt, making the results dense, and the dough is more likely to be overworked, making cookies that are tough.
If you still want to use an electric tool to cut in the butter, use the food processor instead. The magazine Cook’s Illustrated says that using a food processor can help you make biscuits that are properly mixed and rise.
First, mix all the dry ingredients in the food makers. Then, add your cold butter to the machine a little at a time, pulsing between each addition, until the dough is made up of rough pieces no bigger than a pea and is spread out evenly.
Lastly, take your dough out of the food processor so you don’t mix it too much before you add the liquid.
But what if you don’t have a food mixer or you still want to make biscuits by hand?
Still, make sure to use cold butter to keep it from melting and keep it flaky.
Making biscuits is a great way to have a tasty snack any time of the day. By not making the same mistakes everyone else does when baking biscuits, you can make biscuits that are always perfect.
Remember to only mix the dough until it comes together, use cold butter, preheat the oven, use the right flour, only roll out the dough once or twice, use a sharp cutter, and leave enough room between each biscuit.
With these tips, you’ll be able to bake biscuits that turn out great every time.
FAQs About Mistakes Everyone Makes When Baking Biscuits
This could be because the dough was mixed or baked for too long.
Try adding more fat to the dough, like butter or oil.
This could be because you used too much leavening agent (like baking powder or soda) or didn’t let the dough chill before baking.
Use a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter to make forms that are more uniform.
To keep things from sticking, make sure to grease the baking sheet or use parchment paper.
Try using a baking sheet with a lighter color or putting a second baking sheet underneath to keep the heat in.
Try making the dough taste better by adding herbs, spices, cheese, or other things.
This could be because you worked with the dough too much or didn’t use enough fat.
Cut the butter or shortening into the flour with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the pieces are the size of peas.
Make sure the items you use are fresh and that you measure them correctly.
Before baking, brush the tops with melted butter or an egg wash.
This could be because they were baked for too long or because they weren’t covered with a towel when they came out of the oven.
Let them cool on a wire rack before putting them in a container that keeps air out.