As with pie dough, there are two main secrets to perfect, flaky biscuits: 1) cold ingredients; and 2) gentle hands. Chill everything separately prior to starting, and you're halfway there. A few additional tricks that will help you along the way:
- Make sure your dry ingredients are evenly mixed before incorporating the butter by rubbing chilled cubes between your fingertips. (If you're afflicted with hot hands, keep a bowl of ice water and a towel nearby to quickly soak and then dry before continuing.) The goal is an even distribution of pea-sized butter pockets that, when baked, will melt and create steam, leaving behind that flaky texture you're after.
- After adding the liquid, knead everything only until just combined; overmixing will toughen the final product.
- When cutting the biscuits, press straight down, rather than twisting the cutter: this will keep those flaky layers from sticking together, allowing the biscuit to rise evenly in the oven.
- The scraps you're left with after cutting can be re-rolled once and cut again; re-rolling them any more than that will compromise the biscuits' tender texture.
Bake up a dozen with inspiration from a collection of our favorite breads, rolls, and biscuits.