The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Biscuit Help

jlach's picture

Biscuit Help

I've been trying to make the perfect biscuits for months now. The picture with the jalapeno biscuits is from about a month ago. I had it down. They were perfect, even the plain buttermilk. Now, I can't, for the life of me, recreate them. The other pictures are of what mine keep coming out like now. I have no clue what's going on. I've bought all new ingredients, and am even weighing them for the recipe. 


Here's the recipe I was using:

2.25 C SR Flour

1/2 C Butter

1.75 C Buttermilk

450 for six minutes, then rotate and throw another pan under to stop browning for about another 10 mins. I put the bowl of butter/flour in the freezer for ten mins prior to adding the BM, and don't let them sit at all.


For the jalapeno ones I just dumped some in. The plain ones were the same texture inside. The new ones won't even keep their circle shape. Any ideas/ suggestions on what I'm doing wrong now are greatly appreciated. 


I've read every biscuit entry on here. I was hoping someone could spot what's going on (as in why they're different). 






clazar123's picture

Every biscuit recipe I've seen has some form of leavening. If you have just milk,butter and buttermilk, it is more like a pastry.


EDIT: Duh! Just figured out SR flour means self-rising. Time for another cup of coffee-the brain isn't awake yet.

Jean6's picture

from a long-time biscuit maker (more than 30 years, but who's counting) . . .

Whenever you use buttermilk, you need to put some baking soda in the recipe (about 1/2 tsp. should do it). Self-rising flour only contains baking powder. You need the soda to interact with the sour nature of the buttermilk. 

If the biscuits do not retain their shape, you are probably using too much liquid. The ratio I generally use is 2 cups flour and 1 cup buttermilk (plus a little more if the flour is really dry). The dough should be a little stiff even though it is soft.

Also, go ahead and knead it just enough to get it to hold together (about 30 seconds), otherwise you will get a crumbly, more cake-like consistancy.

Hope this helps.

Crider's picture

Although I agree strongly with Jean6's observation. I'm a regular buttermilk scone maker. Some buttermilks — especially the best ones  — tend to get a bit foamy as they age. So that means they take up more volume the older they get. Having experienced that sometimes my scone dough was too dry and sometimes a wee bit too wet, I changed to weighing everything as if I was doing loaves of yeasty bread. It really helped me get consistant results.

So start off weighing the flour and buttermilk of your standard recipe to get a baseline and go from there. I think you'll see improvements.

Ford's picture

I agree with Jean6's observations and with Crider's observation that your dough may be too slack.  In addition your pictures make me think you are not working your dough.  Also your SR flour may have been on the grocer's shelf longer than you think and the baking powder has lost its ability to raise the dough.  Here is my recipe and I have no problem with keeping the shape and with rising.  I haven't added jalapeno, but I see no reason not to add the chopped jalapeno with the dry ingredients.



[as cut 3/8"x2" diam., 22 g, 72 cal., 1.4 g prot., 3.4 g fat, 8.7 g carb.]

2 cup (8.5 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour

1  tspn. salt

2 tspn. double acting baking powder

1  tspn. baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)

1/2  cup (1.8 oz.) Earth Balance, or Crisco Shortening

3/4 cup (6.5 oz.) buttermilk


*Note: Butter, margarine, and “spreads” all contain water, as much as 15 to 30%, or even more.  Consider this, if you substitute these for shortening.  Earth Balance Shortening contains no “trans-fats” and makes the best biscuits, in my opinion.  This shortening must be refrigerated and note the container has only 15 oz, not a full 16 oz.  Not all groceries carry it.  Crisco shortening now has no trans-fats, does not need to be refrigerated, and may be substituted for Earth Balance.  Or try your favorite solid shortening.


Preheat oven to 450°F.  Sift together and mix the dry ingredients.  (Baking soda tends to have clumps.)  Then add the shortening in teaspoon size bits.  With the fingers of one hand, mix the shortening with the dry ingredients, then mash and rub the shortening with the dry ingredients to form thin flakes of shortening covered with flour.

Add the buttermilk to the dry ingredients and lightly stir the ingredients; dough should be slightly sticky.  Add more buttermilk, if necessary.  Place on a floured surface and sprinkle dough lightly with flour.  Flatten the dough with a floured hand to about 3/8 to 1/2  inch thickness. (If you use only one hand, the other will be clean for handling other things in the kitchen.)  Fold double four times, flattening after each fold.  Cut with 2 inch diameter biscuit cutter, straight down and do not twist.  Alternatively, just cut the biscuits into 2” squares with a knife.  Should make about twelve biscuits.  Place biscuits on ungreased, or slightly greased, baking sheet or other suitable pan.  King Arthur bakers claim that freezing cut biscuits for a half hour before baking will make them flakier.  (It doesn’t hurt them, and I have frozen cut, raw biscuits for 30 days and then baked them with no discernable difference between them and those frozen for only a half hour.  Ford.)

Bake until brown, about 12 - 14 minutes.  If you use a forced convection oven, reduce the temperature to 425°F and bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until brown.  Serve hot with real butter and honey, preserves, marmalade, etc.  Leftover biscuits may be split and the opened side browned under the broiler – still good.



jlach's picture

I got a test bag from SYSCO of the SR 25lb bags of flour. The biscuits were amazing. So, I put in a minimum order of 20 bags. I went through six of them in the first week, then went on vacation and let them use frozen biscuits. Upon my return, I haven't been able to get the same rise. 


If it is the baking powder in the biscuits "getting old" would adding some extra "new" baking powder to the SR Flour work? I'll give the Baking soda trick a try tonight after class, as the latest biscuits do have a more "cake-y" texture. I just don't want to throw out 350 lbs of flour!

I've been mixing the flour/butter and buttermilk by hand until it's a messy goo, then only kneading like three or four times. It still has cracks in it. Should I knead more to where there are no cracks?


Thanks for the help so far!!

jlach's picture

So, it was the flour. Any ideas on what to do with 350 lbs of Non-Self Rising Flour? 

Ford's picture

Send it back!  SR flour should be "fresh" for more than a month.


PeterinVT's picture

Could it be a temp issue?  All ingredients should be under 80 degrees when mixing to prevent the levening from reacting before it goes into the oven.   70-80 degrees is optimal.    If you are starting with flour at 90-100 degrees in a hot kitchen, that could be part of your problem.

Adding more levening will give the final product a metallic taste and you will get specks on the bottom.  Maybe some cream of tartar?
Try to find another vendor.  SYSCO has got to be the worst national distributor in the US.  High minimum orders and lousy service unless you are doing over $million in annual sales.   If you have a restaurant that wants to sell fried foods like chicken fingers, they are not that bad, but for scratch cooking, they are terrible.  I recently got a commercial kitchen to do a price check against MAINES with SYSCO and they will be saving over 10%  this year.  On some items, they will be saving 30%.  Some of the prices were simply obscene.

Jean6's picture

You could try adding more baking powder if you buy the type that does not have aluminum in it (Argo comes to mind) and try a batch to see if the metallic taste appears.

As far as the kneading goes, yes knead it more to help retain the shape after you cut the biscuits.

For future biscuits, I would abandon the self-rising flour as you will always have the problem of the baking powder getting old before you use all of it. Buy your own BP and add it as necessary. When you buy other flour for biscuits, buy soft wheat flour as it lacks the extra protein that yeast bread needs. One reason why White Lily flour is so good for biscuits is because it is made from soft wheat. (It makes great biscuits, but I don't like the idea of using bleached flour since so much of the nutrition is also bleached out.)

I know that King Arthur Flour makes an unbleached pastry flour (Round Table pastry flour) as part of their Professional Flour selections  from soft wheat which should be excellent for biscuits. You could contact them about a trial bag and future shipments since you buy in such large quantities.

Also, I have found that if one uses soft wheat flour one can use all butter for the fat. The soft wheat keeps the crumb soft.

Good luck and keep trying.