The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Scone and biscuit "batter," not dough. What the heck is going on?

Urchina's picture

Scone and biscuit "batter," not dough. What the heck is going on?

I've been making baking powder biscuits and scones for nearly 20 years now, and using the same recipes. In the past four or five months I've been running into real trouble with my doughs. My biscuit dough and scone doughs are becoming nearly batters. I'm having to nearly double the amount of flour in relation to liquids in order to have dough that I can even remotely handle, and the resulting product is not producing great oven spring or rising properly like it used it. And using a bench knife to cut it is a pain; the doughs are sticking to the knife, which is not something I struggled with before. 


I can only assume that my problems with biscuits and scones are related somehow to a change in the moisture content of my water, but I didn't think that it would throw my recipes off this much. My cookies and breads don't seem to be affected much, if at all. Does anyone have any ideas about:

1. Whether or not this level of variance can be attributed to the flour (I can't think of anything else)

2. How I can assess the flour I buy in the future for moisture

3. How I can correct my recipes when working with this particular flour. 

4. Other ideas?


For the record, I'm using bulk-bin Giusto's organic unbleached AP flour. 


Any ideas are appreciated. This is ridiculous!

lazybaker's picture

The humidity in the room and flour might be different. It's better to slowly add in the liquid rather than dumping it all into the bowl. I find that adding more flour throws off the flour and baking powder ratio. Also make sure the baking powder is active. Test it by adding a little bit of baking powder in water. It should fizz. Always make sure the container that holds baking powder is tightly sealed. Any moisture that gets to baking powder will make it less active.

meetmike's picture

Not to be cheeky, but I don't think water gets wetter over time. Sounds like perhaps your flour is picking up moisture from the environment, or maybe the humidity level in your home has changed; we get wide variation in humidity in Maine homes: practically no humidity in winter with houses closed up and furnaces/woodstoves working, lots of humidity in wet springs and summers. Lazybaker's advice is right on: Add the last portion of recipe's liquid very slowly until the consistency looks and feels right. Should be easy since you've been baking your same biscuits and scones forever. Lazybaker also right that adding extra flour more likely to throw off final result than using less liquid. Would love to have one of your (successful) biscuits right now! Good luck! Mike in Maine

flournwater's picture

I concur, 100%.  If somebody's got biscuits, I've got gravy.  Let's get together.

jeb's picture

Have you been weighing your flour and measuring your liquid? If so, your scale could have gone awry.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Did it get moist, or old or have you switched or tried another brand?

Urchina's picture

Thanks, all, for your comments. 

Ummm, correction. I meant: Change in moisture content of my flour, not my water. 


As far as the other concerns:

Baking powder is fine. I use it up quickly; it rarely sits at the house more than 3 months or so for a small can. Stored tightly closed where I've stored it for the last 9 years we've lived here. This can has given me no trouble with the cookies I've baked with it. 


Relative humidity: We live in a coastal area. Relative humidity for us is pretty constant, 60% - 70%. We've lived here nine years. 


Measuring: for breads, I weigh the dough. For these biscuits, I use the same measuring cup and measuring method I've used for fifteen years. 


I'll make a batch tomorrow and add the liquid more slowly, to see if I get a better feel for it. Does anyone have a method of assessing flour moisture content without blowing a batch of biscuits to do it? (That a home baker could use, I should add). 


Thanks so much for the ideas!