This *Cool* Trick Is the Secret To Perfectly Flaky Biscuits

So. Many. Layers.

In most aspects of life, being flaky has a negative connotation. No one wants to be that flaky friend — come on, commit to the plans you made. Dare I even mention flaky skin or flaky hair? Ugh, I'm grossed out just thinking about it. Don't even get me started on flaky snow. If it's below 32°F and precipitating, I want a heavy dumping of snow, none of this nonsense "flaky" business. However, there is one exception to the flaky rule, and of course, it's when we're talking about biscuits. If my biscuit doesn't have a distinct stack of light, airy layers, I am simply not interested.

Achieving these iconic layers may seem like something that requires an intense knowledge and love of all things pastry. As someone who is nearly incapable of following any baking recipe because I am too lazy or just unbothered, I can confirm that even the most free-spirited baker can achieve these precise layers. The key to light, flaky biscuits all lies in science and butter. A true duo for the ages.

So let's back up for a second here. What exactly is happening in order to make biscuits rise? There are tiny pockets of butter all throughout the biscuit dough, and when these buttery shards are subjected to the high heat of your oven, they'll turn to steam, causing the biscuit to rise. (There are also some reactions going on with baking powder and baking soda that are important for a good rise, but let's focus on the butter here.)

You've probably heard that you always want the dairy that you're working with to be as cold as possible when you're making dough. Why? Because when the dairy starts to soften from the heat of your kitchen and your hands, it will be prematurely absorbed by the flour, thus losing those tiny pockets of soon-to-be steam. You don't want that!

Best Buttermilk Biscuits

But the trick here isn't to keep your butter cold — you probably already knew you should do that. The trick is to use grated, frozen butter. Now, the frozen part should make sense. As I mentioned before, we want to give ourselves as much time as we can with this butter as cold as possible, so why refrigerate it when we can freeze it? As far as the grated part — well, let me explain. Biscuit dough is tricky because you obviously want all the ingredients to be well distributed and nicely incorporated, but you also want to avoid overworking your dough. By grating the butter, it's much easier to evenly distribute it among the dry ingredients, and the grated butter pieces are small enough that you don't need to get in there with a pastry cutter, which can often lead to overworked dough.

To grate your frozen butter, you can opt to put some elbow grease into it and shred it on the large holes of your box grater, or you can do your wrists a favor and send it through the shredding disc on your food processor. Either works, but I will be completely forthcoming with you and admit that grating frozen butter by hand is probably one of my least favorite kitchen tasks. It's totally worth it for top-notch biscuits, but boy do I really hate doing it. Once you've got your grated, frozen butter, the only thing left to do is work quickly to keep your dough as chilled and underworked as possible.

Okay, so there's actually one more thing that you can do for tall, majestic, distinctly layered biscuits, and that's booking your dough. This might seem like a contradiction after my long-winded rant about not overworking your dough. However, you definitely want to get some layering action going by gently making folds on your dough that will help promote thin layers. This is done by folding the dough 3-4 times like a book. Take one third of the dough and fold it over the center third. Then take the untouched third and fold it over the folded third. Then, gently work it back into a flat dough and repeat.

I can't help you improve your ability to follow through on commitments, nor can I offer much advice if your skin and scalp are lacking hydration. However, when it comes to flaky biscuits. Please, step into my office.

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