Mixing Biscuit Dough

Keep the following in mind while mixing for biscuits:

  • To evenly distribute the leavening, combine the flour, leavening and salt in a mixing bowl and mix well.
  • Realize that some recipes also direct you to mix in sugar with the flour, leavening and salt.
  • Be sure the fat is cold. Add the fat to the flour mixture in heaping tablespoon-sized pieces, then, using a pastry blender, two knives or your fingertips cut the fat into increasingly smaller pieces. As this is done, be sure the smaller pieces are tossed with the flour mixture, coating and separating the pieces of fat.
  • Continue until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (about 1/8 inch) for soft, fluffy biscuits.
  • For flaky biscuits or scones and shortcakes with a layered structure similar to croissants and a slight crunch at the edges, leave some of the fat pieces as large as small peas (about 1/4 inch).
  • Add the liquid all at once and stir with a fork just until dry ingredients are evenly moistened and dough comes together. DO NOT OVERMIX. Dough will not be completely smooth.
  • Gather dough into a ball and knead on lightly floured surface quickly and gently, about 6 to 8 times, just until no longer sticky. The kneading is meant only to flatten the pieces of fat into flakes, not to blend fat completely with the flour. Kneading also activates the gluten in the flour just enough to give the biscuits enough strength to rise and expand, but not enough to make them firmer and chewy like yeast bread. Using too much flour and overworking the dough makes biscuits tough.