Baking Powder Biscuits

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Baking Powder Biscuits

star rating (49) rate this recipe »
Published prior to 2008

Biscuits make one think of farmhouse kitchens, enormous farm breakfasts and hot soups and stews, fare for the working man. Two centuries ago, biscuits were cooked over the coals on a cast iron pan with legs, similar to the girdle on a tripod. If you can imagine what this pan looked like, you can guess why it was generally known as a "spider." Perhaps your grandmother had a pan she referred to as a spider. You just have to remember that the original had legs.

It does seem in this country, in most cases, that when a baking powder biscuit is served with something savory, it remains a biscuit, and when it's served with something sweet, it becomes a scone. Whatever you decide to call them, biscuits or scones are unbelievably easy to make, they bake in minutes, and, if we slow our lives down enough to enjoy them with a leisurely breakfast, a savory supper, or with a cup of tea in the afternoon, we will have adopted a tradition worth keeping.

This recipe makes approximately a dozen biscuits, depending on how you shape them.

3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 to 4 tablespoons sugar (to taste; sweeter biscuits)**
4 to 6 tablespoons (2 to 3 ounces) butter or shortening
1 cup (8 ounces) milk, buttermilk, or water

*Substitute 1 cup King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour for 1 cup of Unbleached All-Purpose, if you wish; or use our Round Table Pastry Flour, unbleached or whole wheat, ideal for biscuits. Biscuits made with pastry flour won't rise quite as high, but they'll be melt-in-your-mouth tender. Experiment with combinations of our pastry and all-purpose flours to work out your favorite combination of "tender and tall."

**Use more or less sugar, depending on taste; obviously, sweeter biscuits are more suitable for desserts, while those with less sugar lend themselves to additions like chives and cheese. Also, for richer biscuits, use the greater amount of butter or shortening; for plainer, lower-fat biscuits, use the lesser amount.

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Mix together the dry ingredients. With two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips, cut or rub the butter or shortening in until the mixture looks like bread crumbs. Add the liquid all at once, mixing quickly and gently for about 20 seconds until you have a soft dough.

There are several ways to shape these biscuits. You can drop them by the spoonful onto a lightly floured baking sheet, or for tidier shapes, fill the cups of a greased muffin tin about two-thirds full. For cut biscuits, pat the dough into a rectangle about 3/4-inch in thickness. Fold it into thirds like a letter and roll gently with a floured rolling pin until the dough is 3/4-inch in thickness again. Cut into circles with a biscuit cutter for traditional, round biscuits. Or, to avoid leftover dough scraps, cut the dough into squares or diamonds with a bench or bowl scraper.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until they're lightly browned. Yield: about twelve 2 1/2-inch biscuits.

This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 6, July-August 1992 issue.


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  • star rating 04/26/2015
  • Mark from SW Michigan
  • This is the first time I've made scratch biscuits. I don't bake - I cook. This is my year to change that. I need to work on my layering techniques, etc. but this turned out acceptable for my first try. Some flakier than others, but overall decent texture. Flavor I like a lot. I went with no sugar, as that's how I prefer them in general. Next time I'll use buttermilk and see how that changes things.
  • star rating 03/24/2015
  • Matt from Nw arkansas
  • star rating 03/17/2015
  • Martha from Grand Rapids, MI
  • Tried halving this recipe and found that 1/2 cup of milk was far too little liquid. After mixing, there was a lot of the dry ingredients and in no way was the batter "scoopable". Adding a couple more tablespoons of milk helped, but I think the biscuits suffered for it - having to mix more meant they were probably tougher than they could have been. Will try again with more liquid up front and see what happens.
  • star rating 02/24/2015
  • Janice murphy from
  • This is one of the best that, I've tried! They tasted excellent, buttery slightly sweet and light. Presentation was fine as well. My grandchild couldn't get enough of them. I was so impressed! This is my go to recipe:-)
  • star rating 02/04/2015
  • jcornwell from KAF Community
  • My grandmother used to make biscuits like this. I didn't think that it was the right one as I had gone to several recipes trying to find one that I felt would fit well with what I wanted to do. This is it. Yesterday I made sausage gravy and I made these biscuits. They were perfect. Great recipe. I left out the sugar as I don't like sugar in my biscuits and I'll consider it for scones next time.
  • star rating 02/01/2015
  • Carol_G from KAF Community
  • I've never been able to make biscuits until this recipe. I must have had "heavy" cups of flour, so I had to vary the recipe. Used 8 Tbs of shortening, and about 1-1/3 C of buttermilk, no sugar. Turned it out on an oiled counter, pressed with fingertips to flatten, fold, pressed again, fold, pressed, etc about 6-8 times. Rise was about doubled even with a blunt can to cut with. Very moist, tender, and flaky, with a light crunch. I have FINALLY made excellent biscuits from scratch! Thanks a million KAF!
  • star rating 01/29/2015
  • Trena from Portage, Maine
  • Made these last night and they were great! Added 1 T of buttermilk powder and 2 T Everything Bagel Mix. Used 5 T butter and low fat milk. I did have to add another T of water to get the dough to come together, but that is standard practice when baking breads as it tends to be dry here in the winter.
  • star rating 01/12/2015
  • Kara from Greenville, WI
  • KAF your recipe saved the day again. After a long day I was getting dinner ready only to find out we didn't have any biscuit mix in the house. I got the casserole mixed up and set it to simmer on the stove. Found the recipe for these biscuits - the others called for ingredients I didn't have on hand - and in right around 15 minutes had the perfect sized batch of biscuits ready to top my chicken casserole. I made mine using 3 Tbsp each shortening and butter, about 2 Tbsp sugar, and made them a bit loose with a little extra water and so that I could drop them on the casserole (all rustic-y like) and they turned out beautifully. I got rave reviews saying that they were much better than the box mix and it turns out that they only took a little bit longer to prepare so I'll be sticking with this recipe. Thanks again KAF.
  • star rating 01/05/2015
  • CillaRay from Montana
  • As a self respecting southern girl, I have always loved making biscuits! I used to always use self rising flour until I ran out one day and had to look up a *gasp* recipe! These are perfect. I have made them with milk, buttermilk and yes, even water. Flawless. Sometimes i throw in cheese and grind fresh pepper on top for a savory stew partner...sometimes just eat them plain which won't hurt your feelings at all!
  • 12/03/2014
  • from
  • Cant rate it. The recipe never came up
    When you're at the recipe page, type "Baking Powder Biscuits" into the search box and the recipe should come up for you. We hope you'll rate it once you've baked and taste tested the recipe. Irene@KAF
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