Biscuit Dough Troubleshooting Guide
Biscuit Dough Troubleshooting Guide

When watching video tutorials and reading recipes for biscuit making, it seems so easy – a piece of cake. It might appear so when someone else is doing all the hard work. However, when you try to do it on your own, it turns out to be tricky. 

Biscuits making can be complicated, especially if you’re new at baking.

Of course, great ingredients don’t guarantee you’ll get the perfect biscuits if you don’t mix them properly. You’ll need the right kind of flour (we recommend all-purpose or cake flour for best results) and the correct type of fat. The oven temperature, too, cooling down, and many other factors can ruin all your efforts.

There are some common mistakes people make while kneading and baking biscuits. They can come out hard and flat, not airy and fluffy as you would expect. What to do when your biscuits don’t turn out as you wish? 

Toss them away? No. We’ve gathered all biscuit-related problems in one place to help you avoid making these mistakes.

Let’s see.

Why aren’t my biscuits light and fluffy?

We all want our biscuits to be airy and fluffy, but sometimes they turn out hard, flat, dry, and crumbly. Why is that happening? Well, there are several reasons:

  • Too much flour can also cause hard and tough biscuits. 
  • Fat is one of the most important ingredients of a tasty biscuit. You can use lard or coconut oil, but butter is our favorite fat. The butter should be diced and cold when you add it to the dry ingredients.

Put butter in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using it. If the butter is cold, it will need more time to melt, and the biscuit will have time to rise. Why is that important? Melted butter in a hot oven will produce greasy and leaden biscuits.

  • Don’t add all the fat at once, but little by little. Knead butter and flour with your fingertips until you make crumbles. If you use the palm of your hand, you will warm up the butter and the dough texture won’t be as expected.
  • In the basic biscuit recipe, we mentioned the importance of preheating the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat will produce maximum steam, which helps the dough to rise.
  • You’re not sifting dry ingredients. Sifting is an important factor because it removes potential clumps from flour and also aerates the flour, which is important for measuring.
Hard homemade biscuits can be the result of using the wrong kind of flour, using too much flour, or over-kneading the biscuit dough.
Hard homemade biscuits can result from using the wrong kind of flour, using too much flour, or over-kneading the biscuit dough. (shutterstock.com)

What happens if you over-knead biscuit dough?

When you’re making the dough, kneading is essential. The yeast-based dough is one thing but when you’re working on a tender and fragile delicacy, such as biscuits, make sure you don’t overwork the dough. You’ll knead bread or pizza dough for at least 20 minutes to help gluten development and achieve better rise and elastic structure.

Over kneading biscuit dough will result in tough, chewy, and cracked biscuits, and that’s not something you’re aiming for. Knead the dough for 10 minutes tops if you’re doing it by hand. If you’re using a food processor, 2 or 3 minutes will be just fine.

It would be best if you handled biscuit dough as little as possible.

How to avoid crumbly biscuits?

There are two possible reasons why your biscuits are crumbly:

  • Fat. As mentioned, you should cut your butter into small cubes but make sure they’re not too small. Each cube should be about ⅛ or ¼ of inches. Why is that important? If pieces of butter are too small, they will leave air gaps while melting in the oven. Those gaps will cause your biscuit to crumble once it’s baked.
  • Flour. Using too much flour in your dough can produce hard and crumbly biscuits, but that’s just one trap you could fall into. Biscuit dough is a little bit sticky. To prevent stickiness, we tend to use a lot of flour to cover the work surface. And then before rolling the dough, we use some more flour. All the extra flour hardens the dough and as a result, you get crumbly biscuits.

Tip: It’s a better idea to lightly flour the work surface and then rub some flour on your hands and the rolling pin. This way, you won’t exaggerate with all the extra flour.

How do you soften hard biscuits?

If your biscuits are a bit hard, but not too hard, you can reheat them in the microwave for about 20 seconds. If the biscuits are very hard, wrap them in a damp kitchen towel before putting them in the microwave.

If you don’t have a microwave, put biscuits in a plastic airtight container with a damp kitchen towel and leave them overnight. They should be soft the following day.

You can also soften your biscuits in the oven. Please put them in the oven, preheated to 200 degrees. Put biscuits on a clean baking pan and cover them with a slightly wet kitchen towel. Check their softness every 2 or 3 minutes. If the towel dries out, wet it again. If your biscuits aren’t soft after 20 minutes – give up. They won’t get any smoother.

Why are my homemade biscuits hard?

Hard homemade biscuits can result from using the wrong kind of flour, using too much flour, or over-kneading the biscuit dough.

Biscuits should be tender, airy, and flaky, and to get the desired structure, you’ll need flour with a low protein level. A low protein level means that less gluten will form, which creates a light texture of biscuits. For the best results, always use the kind of flour the recipe calls for – in this case, the best choice is all-purpose or cake flour.

Over-kneading the dough is directly connected to gluten formation. The more you knead, the more gluten will develop. That’s why biscuit dough requires as little handling as possible.

What can I do if my biscuits stick to the baking pan?

If your recipe calls for a greased pan, don’t forget to grease it before placing the biscuits in the pan. We recommend shortening for this step, but you can also use butter or a cooking spray. Silicone math or parchment paper are also good ideas.

Remember that using too much grease can cause biscuits to spread too much.

If your biscuits are stuck, you can use a spatula to “unglue” them. If biscuits are stuck on a baking paper, place them, along with the paper, on a warm damp kitchen towel (paper side down) and let them sit there for a few minutes. You should “unglue” them quickly afterward.

How can I prevent biscuits from baking unevenly?

If some of your biscuits have a beautiful golden color and others are light and pale, maybe you didn’t portion your dough equally. More significant pieces of biscuits will require more time to bake, while at the same time, you will overbake smaller pieces.

Portioning each biscuit equally will make them bake simultaneously and have an even color.

Why are my biscuits greasy?

Either you’re using the wrong kind of fat (technically, you can use any type of fat for biscuits, but the cold, unsalted butter will give you the best results), or biscuit dough is too warm.

Put your dough in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling and shaping. Cooling it down will help solidify the butter so the biscuits will hold their shape while baking. Also, they won’t be too greasy.

Greasy biscuits are the result of using the wrong kind of fat or biscuit dough is too warm.
Greasy biscuits result from using the wrong kind of fat or biscuit dough is too warm. (shutterstock.com)

How can I save soggy biscuits?

If your biscuits are all soft and moist, return them to the oven for a few more minutes. Hot air in the oven should remove excess moisture from your biscuits. Line the biscuits on a baking tray and bake them at 320 degrees (160 celsius).

How can I shape my biscuits if I don’t have a cutter?

Baking and improvisation are tightly bonded sometimes. This one is straightforward. You can use a glass or a teacup instead of a cutter. Also, if you don’t have a rolling pin, use a clean wine bottle instead.

ProblemReason
Crumbly biscuitsToo much flour or too small pieces of fat
Hard biscuitsWrong kind of flour, too much flour, or over kneading a dough
Greasy biscuitsWrong kind of fat or uncooled (room temperature) fat
Soggy biscuitsInsufficiently baked
Broken biscuitsYou didn’t leave them to cool down completely
Biscuits stuck to the panUngreased pan
Underbaked biscuitsInsufficiently baked
Biscuits unevenly bakedYou didn’t portion biscuit dough evenly
Common problems with biscuit dough

My biscuits have broken while I was removing them from the baking pan

Leave biscuits to cool down before moving them from the baking tray ultimately. That way, the biscuits won’t break while they are warm.

What to do if I see my biscuits are underbaked after they are cooled?

Put them back in the oven for a few more minutes. After baking biscuits, leave them to cool down properly before serving to avoid breaking the cookies.

Can I open the oven while baking the biscuits?

It can be hard to resist, but you should avoid opening the oven door while baking cookies.

Why is that? Opening the oven allows the heat to go out, affecting the baking. Biscuits could turn out too flat. If you want to check on the baking progress, a better idea is to use an oven light (or your cell phone battery light).

Citations:

  • https://www.southernliving.com/food/how-to/biscuit-baking-mistakes#:~:text=Overworking%20(or%20Underworking)%20the%20Dough,times%20for%20the%20perfect%20texture.
  • https://oureverydaylife.com/biscuits-turn-out-hard-cracks-36266.html
  • https://www.allrecipes.com/article/common-biscuit-mistakes/