How to Make and Knead Biscuit Dough

A biscuit is a flour-based baked good. It’s usually sweet and it can be enriched with numerous ingredients, such as chocolate, ginger, jam, or cinnamon. Biscuits can also be savory and similar to crackers. They are very popular among all generations – kids love them and the elderly enjoy them with a cup of tea.

What are the steps in making biscuit dough?

While making a biscuit you’ll have to go through four important steps: mixing the ingredients, forming the biscuits, baking them, and cooling them before serving.

The final results depend on getting the right recipe with great proportions of ingredients and mixing the biscuit dough well.

Step 1: Mix your dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add cold butter, cut into small cubes and mix it into dry ingredients to get small chunks. Add liquid and combine it with other ingredients. Leave your dough to chill for about 30 minutes.

Step 2: Forming or shaping the biscuit. Put your dough on a lightly floured work surface and shape it as you want to.

Step 3: Bake it in a hot oven, until they get all flakey and have a beautiful golden color.

Step 4: Leave them to cool before serving.

Basic recipe 

This is the basic biscuit recipe. They are easy to make and even easier to eat and they will be delicious every single time.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 125g butter, softened

Instructions:

Before you begin mixing the dough, turn on the oven to 450 degrees (230 Celsius).

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, mix butter, sugar, and vanilla extract. Add one egg and keep mixing until they are well combined. Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) over the mixture of wet ingredients.

Pour milk and stir until all the ingredients are compact. 

Scoop the cookie dough using a spoon or an ice cream scoop and place the biscuits on a baking tray, lined with baking paper. Bake them until they get light golden color (for about 10-15 minutes). 

Leave biscuits on a wire rack to completely cool down before serving.

Which flour is best for biscuit dough? 

Making biscuits requires flour with low content of protein and gluten. You don’t need the elasticity and strength of bread dough and you don’t want your biscuits to rise sky-high. That’s why the protein level is important.

Use all-purpose flour, which is milled from red wheat and has an ultra-soft and fine texture. While buying all-purpose flour, look up the protein content on a package. You want it to be as low as possible – 9 grams of protein per 100 grams of flour will do it. Your biscuits will get enough rise and come out voluminous and light.

You can use cake flour as well. Cake flour is even lower in protein (7-9%) and it will give your biscuits a fluffy, airy look and cake-like density.

Tip: You can also mix cake and all-purpose flour in a 1:1 ratio. This mixture will give you biscuits that have a fine bite on the outside while being all light and airy on the inside.

Should you sift flour for biscuit dough? 

As we said earlier, biscuits are flour-based baked goods. Sifting is always a good idea when you’re baking and especially if you’re baking biscuits and here is why: 

  • Sifting all dry ingredients together (usually flour, baking agents, and salt) will make them combine better and give you airier and smoother dough;
  • Sifting will remove larger particles and clumps that could potentially make your dough dense or sink into the middle of the dough;
  • A cup of sifted and a cup of unsifted flour do not weigh equally. Sifting is a way of aerating the flour and it will give you consistency between cup measurements.

What is the best fat for biscuits? 

Fat is essential for a good biscuit. The best fat for biscuits is butter, but you can use numerous replacements. Higher amounts of butter will give your biscuits a rich and buttery crumb and it will also promote a good rise because butter contains milk. 

You can also use shortening, margarine, coconut oil, lard, vegetable oil, or vegan butter.

Results will vary – you won’t get the same texture as you’d get with butter, but they will work in a pinch.

Tip: Natural sugars in milk caramelize at high temperatures, causing biscuits to have such a nice color. Other options like coconut oil, lard, and shortening are 100% fats. They will give you nice and tasty biscuits, but they could be a bit flat and light in color.

Can you substitute butter for shortening in a biscuit recipe?

You can substitute butter for shortening in your biscuit recipe, in a 1:1 ratio. Keep in mind their different structure:

  • Butter is 80% fat and 20% water
  • Shortening is 100% hydrogenated vegetable oil

Shortening will be the correct substitute for butter, but it will slightly change the texture of your biscuits. 

How do you knead biscuit dough by hand?

It’s hard to explain how to knead the dough by hand using just words, so take a look at this video for making a basic biscuit dough and follow the instructions:

Source: ThePizzaBase

Step 1: In a large bowl sift two cups (300g) of flour with 1 teaspoon of baking powder.

Step 2: Add 200g diced unsalted butter into the flour.

Step 3: Mix the butter and flour with your fingertips to get crumbs.

Step 4: Add ½ cup (110 grams) of caster sugar (it dissolves quicker).

Step 5: Add 1 mixed egg to the center of the dough mixture.

Step 6: Pull all the ingredients together, kneading them just a little bit to get a smooth dough.

Step 7: Put the dough in a plastic wrap and leave it to chill in a cold place for 15 minutes.

Step 8: Put the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll it with a rolling pin. Cut out the shapes you want.

Step 9: Bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 350-450 degrees (180-230 Celsius), depending on the heating strength of your oven.

You can also mix biscuit dough using the following equipment:

  • Electric mixer
  • Kenwood chef
  • Bread machine
  • Food processor
  • Kitchenaid
  • Thermomix

How do you know when to stop kneading biscuit dough?

Biscuit dough requires a short amount of kneading, but the best method to know when to stop kneading is the windowpane test.

Take a small piece of dough (nut size) and roll it between your fingers to get a sheet of dough (like a really thin pancake). If you can see through the dough without tearing it apart, that means the gluten development has been successful and you can stop kneading. If the dough tears apart, continue with the kneading for a few more minutes and do the test again.

Tip: Kneading for about 10 minutes will give you the best results for most kinds of dough. We are talking about kneading by hand or with a mixer. If you’re using a food processor you’ll need just 2 or 3 minutes.

Troubleshooting biscuit dough

We compiled the most common problems that occur while making the biscuit dough and provided answers below. Take a look at them and avoid similar mistakes.

How thick should I roll biscuit dough?

The thickness of the biscuit dough usually depends on the recipe, but the most common thickness is ¾ inch (2 cm). Keep in mind that biscuits will rise while they bake.

How do you roll dough in the same thickness?

Rolling out biscuit dough evenly can be tricky. Look at this video for the best results:

Source: Bake Club

Step 1: Shape the biscuit dough in a round and flatten it slightly

Step 2: Grab a large sheet of baking paper and place the dough in the center 

Step 3: Lay another sheet of baking paper on top

Step 4: Roll the dough until it is ½ inch thick (or the desired thickness). The sheets of baking paper will prevent the dough from sticking to the work surface or to the rolling pin.

Step 5: Remove the top sheet of baking paper and cut the dough into shapes using a biscuit cutter.

Step 6: Lift all the spare dough and use a palette knife to lift the cut-out biscuits onto a baking sheet.

Should I chill my biscuit dough?

Kneading the biscuit dough will take you just a few minutes, but the dough will develop a small amount of gluten anyway. If you place the baking pan with cut out biscuits in the fridge to cool before baking, gluten development will slow down and the butter will harden up. While baking, the butter will need time to melt and your biscuits will have a higher rise.

You can chill your biscuits on a baking pan, but you can also chill the dough. Wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge for 15-30 minutes before rolling it.

Can you let biscuit dough sit overnight?

You can leave biscuit dough to sit in the fridge for up to 3 or 5 days, just make sure it is properly wrapped. If you want to prepare biscuit dough in advance, you can also freeze it.