Here are some helpful solutions for the common causes:

  • Gluten in flour overdeveloped

    Kneading too much and overhandling biscuit, shortcake and scone dough overdevelops the gluten in the flour, resulting in a chewy, tough baked product. Overhandling the dough also reduces the size of the shortening pieces; the air pockets left by the melting shortening during baking will be smaller and the resulting baked product will be tougher. Learn more about flour.

  • Ratio of dry ingredients to fats and liquids too high
    • When flour is "scooped" into the measuring cup directly from the container, it compresses, or becomes packed. This means you will be adding more flour than called for in the recipe. Spoon flour from the container into dry measuring cup and use a metal spatula or the flat side of a knife to level the flour even with the top of the cup.
    • Adding the least amount of flour possible when rolling and re-rolling biscuit, scone and shortcake dough. If the dough is very sticky and can’t be rolled well, try patting dough out on lightly floured surface with lightly floured hands.
  • Used wrong type of flour

    Different flours create different textures in biscuits, scones and shortcakes. You can generally substitute up to one-third of a different flour than called for in a recipe without creating tough biscuits, scones or shortcakes. All-purpose and cake flours work well. Avoid bread flour as it contains too much protein. Learn more about flour.

  • The wrong kind of measuring cup was used

    Glass or clear plastic measuring cups with pouring spouts and handles are used to measure liquids. For dry ingredients, always use a measuring cup that comes as a "nested" set (i.e., separate cups to measure 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 and 1 cup). Learn more about measuring.

  • Vegetable oil spread contains less fat and more water than butter or margarine

    Check package to make sure the product you used contained 70% or more fat. Spreads with less fat contain more water, which will make biscuits, scones and shortcakes less tender. Learn more about Fats in Baking.

  • Oven was too hot and product overbaked
    • Most biscuits, scones and shortcakes bake in a hot oven (425°F to 450°F). Oven thermostats can change over time, requiring adjustments by the baker or calibration by a professional. To insure the correct temperature each time you bake, always use an oven thermometer. Check the oven temperature to see that it matches the temperature set on the oven dial. Adjust the oven dial up or down to correct the oven temperature.
    • Check biscuits, scones and shortcakes for doneness 5 minutes before the minimum baking time recommended in the recipe. If the biscuit, scone or shortcake has risen high and is golden brown, it is done.
  • Dark baking pans or cookie sheets absorb more heat and transfer it to what is being baked

    Use a light-colored shiny aluminum baking pan; dark pans absorb more heat and transfer it to the biscuit, scone or shortcake. Or, reduce oven temperature by 25°F.