Bring on those flaky, airy layers.
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The only thing more rewarding than making a tall, flaky, buttery, golden brown biscuit from scratch is eating one. I mean, who doesn't love a warm, fluffy biscuit? The art of achieving those delicate layers in a classic buttermilk biscuit lies in how the dough is made; and honestly, it's not as tricky as you may think. So, today we're looking at what's called a "rolled" or "cut" biscuit. These are likely what you think of in terms of a classic biscuit. As opposed to a drop biscuit, where the dough is scooped and dropped directly onto a baking sheet, cut biscuits are rolled and individually cut, making for a more uniform look and more organized layers in each biscuit. Ready to get a batch going from-scratch? Here's how to make rolled biscuits, step by step:

biscuit dry ingredients
Credit: Sara Tane

Mix Dry Ingredients

To start, you'll need to whisk together your dry ingredients, which are typically going to include all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Even if you're making savory biscuits, a tablespoon of sugar is a subtle addition to round out the flavors of the biscuits. You can leave the flavor profile of your biscuits plain, but if you want to jazz them up a bit, now is the time. 

dry biscuit ingredients plus mix-ins
Credit: Sara Tane

You can also opt to infuse savory or sweet ingredients into your biscuits. Some welcome additions to your next batch include hard herbs (chopped rosemary, sage, or thyme), shredded cheese, some sort of allium (minced shallots, roasted garlic, or sliced scallions), and maybe some extra spices like cracked black pepper or cayenne pepper. 

dry biscuit mixture plus grated butter
Credit: Sara Tane

Add Frozen, Grated Butter

Once all of your dry ingredients are incorporated, it's time to add butter. Frozen butter is ideal because it's super cold so you don't have to worry about the heat of your kitchen or your hands melting it. Flour will prematurely absorb softened butter which can lead to you losing those little baby pockets of steam when the biscuits hit the oven.

grating frozen butter
Credit: Sara Tane
frozen, grated butter
Credit: Sara Tane

You can grate your frozen butter on the large holes of your box grater or on the shredding attachment of your food processor. Regardless of how you grate it, using frozen, grated butter is an effective technique because it shreds the butter into small enough pieces that it can be uniformly distributed throughout the all of the dough (unlike if the butter were cut into small cubes). When you add the frozen butter, make sure it is evenly distributed amongst the dry ingredients.

buttermilk added to biscuit dough
Credit: Sara Tane

Add Buttermilk

The last addition to the biscuit dough is buttermilk. To add this ingredient, make a well in the center of your mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Using a wooden spoon or your hands, gently incorporate the dry ingredients with the buttermilk. The dough will likely seem very dry and shaggy — don't worry. No need to add more liquid because the biscuit dough will gradually hydrate itself.

Crumbly biscuit dough on counter
Credit: Sara Tane

Always remember, you want to avoid over-mixing the dough — it's not going to come together into a smooth ball like some other bread doughs. Trust the process and dump your shaggy dough onto a clean (and, if your recipe instructs — lightly floured) counter.

biscuit dough pressed into a rectangle
Credit: Sara Tane

Book the Dough

At this point, you'll want to work fast to form the dough into a rectangle, avoiding any kneading motions and simply pressing the dough firmly together. The heat from your hands can melt the butter, so use a rolling pin in tandem with your hands to gently shape it.

Once you have a rectangular shape about one inch in height, you'll want to "book" the dough to form those signature layers.

booking biscuit dough
Credit: Sara Tane

In other words, fold one side of the dough ⅓ of the way across the dough rectangle, then fold the other side on top of the first fold (like a letter).

folding biscuit dough
Credit: Sara Tane

Then, press/roll the dough down, back into a 1-inch-thick rectangle.

booked biscuit dough

Repeat the process an additional two to three times, rotating the dough 90 degrees between each booking and adding a light sprinkling of flour as needed.

cut, unbaked biscuits
Credit: Sara Tane

Cut and Bake

Now that you have built in several layers of flaky goodness, it's time to cut and bake these bad boys. I prefer to cut my biscuits into squares because this way, there are no scraps (re-rolled biscuits scraps are inescapably overworked, making them tough and undesirable), and I can use my bench scraper to make cuts instead of a round biscuit cutter. If you decide to use a biscuit cutter, be sure not to twist the cutter, as this can seal the edges and prevent the biscuits from rising properly. Once the biscuits are cut, place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and let them chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before baking. You can also opt to freeze them at this point for future biscuit enjoyment. Just make sure to tack on a few extra minutes of cook time when you get around to pulling them from the freezer and baking them off.

Brushing unbaked biscuits with butter
Credit: Sara Tane

To bake them, you'll need a hot oven; I usually go with 450 degrees fahrenheit. I always brush my biscuits with a thin layer of melted butter before they go in. From there, the biscuits should take anywhere from 25 to 30 minutes, depending on their size. Always rotate the pan in the oven halfway through for even baking.

Final baked biscuit
Credit: Sara Tane

Now that's how to make some flaky, buttery rolled biscuits from scratch. Enjoy those layers, champ.

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