Do you know how to make baking powder biscuits? I don’t mean the kind from a box or a tube. No, I mean the kind your mom or grandma probably made. Well, if you don’t know, then this recipe is for you!
For a recipe that only contains a couple of ingredients, biscuit making can seem daunting. It certainly was for me. I was so frustrated with the knowledge that so few ingredients could challenge me so much!
Breakfast, lunch, diner, and anything in between is the reason everyone needs a good baking powder biscuit recipe. Baked beans, stews, soups and chowders are just a few of the many versatile uses for light, tender biscuits served piping hot, and of course, lathered with butter. Wouldn’t you agree that a make ahead recipe for biscuits is a great idea? Just mix, bake, and eat!
I came across this recipe from an old New Brunswick heritage recipe book I once borrowed from a library years ago. I copied the recipe, but my handwritten title just reads, “Biscuit Mix, New Brunswick Heritage Cookbook”.
This recipe for large batch baking powder biscuits was no doubt created by a forgotten Granny somewhere in the Maritimes, way back in the day before many of us were born.
Biscuits are “quick breads” because they do not require yeast and can be made in a fraction of the time. One of the biggest secrets of perfect biscuit making is to work quickly, as well as not to handle the dough too much or they will turn out tough and small in volume. Having the butter and liquid cold are very important in biscuit making.
The biscuits baked from this recipe are golden, tender and are crispy on the bottom, light and buttery. Best yet, amazingly they can be made in a large amount; enough for four batches that are stored individually in freezer bags, placed in the refrigerator or freezer then taken out as needed. How convenient is that?
The biscuit mix needs to be stored in the freezer or refrigerator, as the butter and milk powder could go rancid if left out on your pantry shelf. This way the mix is super cold before they bake, which is ideal for making biscuits. The only change I made to the recipe was to substitute butter for the hydrogenated shortening that it called for.
You will find that there will be two cups of the biscuit mix leftover, and I’ve included the recipe that came with the biscuits, for making dumplings that are so wonderful with stew.
I know I sound excited about a simple mixture of flour, butter, baking powder, salt and milk, and yes, I am! For such simple ingredients, it’s not quite so simple for some of us to make a little biscuit. I know, it took me a long time to figure out the secret!
I grew up with a mother who made the best biscuits. I watched her bake them so many times during my childhood, yet amazingly when I left home, I struggled with having them turn out. In fact, for a while they NEVER turned out! I resorted to buying a mix from a box. Shame, shame!
Even after I married I still hadn’t figured out the secret to biscuit making. Mom wrote out the recipe twice for me with the hopes that somehow that would fix things. Looking at the recipe now, I can see that she omitted the fact that the butter needed to be very chilled, and not to overwork the dough. She must have assumed that because I had watched her, I would have known. Anyway, it wasn’t until my husband teased me about using my biscuits for hockey pucks, that I knew that if it took till my dying day, I would learn the how to make flaky, tall, biscuits.
Three things are very important in biscuit making; practice, cold ingredients, and not overworking the dough. Also, it’s very important that your baking powder is fresh, so you may need to replace it if you do not bake often. You must use a sharp rimmed biscuit cutter, not a drinking glass, (which will compress the sides and they will not rise as well) and push straight down on the biscuits as you stamp them out, being careful not to twist them. The little 2 1/2 inch aluminum can in the photo was my mother’s biscuit cutter that my father made for her out of a can. I think of her each time I make biscuits.
I think I jumped for joy the first time my biscuits came out of the oven and were edible! I especially like having the large batch mix on hand for convenience, for times when I need to get the biscuits in the oven quickly, such as for lunch when I make homemade soup. My family always requests fresh baked biscuits whenever I make homemade soup. Leftover biscuits do not keep all that well, except they are nice split in half and toasted with a little butter and jam.
This large batch biscuit mix is waiting for me in the freezer all ready to go. Three cups mix, one cup water. That’s it!
Oh, I just want to add that, believe me, there is a BIG difference in the boxed or tube variety of biscuit mix and the homemade. Big, big, difference! Once, I bought the tube variety when I was camping, and was embarrassed to serve them! I think people today are so used to everything being instant, fast, and convenient, that they often settle on mediocre foods that taste like something grandma would not have recognized as a food item.
So, folks, you can do this! Don’t give up on your first try! I would love to know how they turned out for you. Feel free to leave a comment!
Homemade Make Ahead Baking Powder Biscuit Mix
This biscuit mix is so convenient to have on hand for making mouth watering, buttery, tender biscuits at a fraction of the time!
- 10 cups all purpose flour I like to use unbleached
- 6 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt (can use less)
- 1 cup dry milk powder
- 2 cups cold butter cut into small cubes,
Because of the large volume of flour, I make this a two step process which I find works best.
In a food processor using the s-shaped blade, combine 5 cups flour, 3 tablespoons baking powder, half of the salt, and 1/2 cup milk powder. Pulse until combined. Add 1 cup cubed butter. Mix until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, but do not overwork. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat process, then stir the two batches together.
If you do not have a food processor, you can shave larger pieces of the cold butter with a box grater, then break it up in the flour gently with your fingertips, or by using two knives.
To divide the mix into single serving portions, place 3 cups of biscuit mix in a medium size plastic zip lock freezer bag. Repeat, using three more bags. Place bags in the freezer or refrigerator until ready to use. Do not leave out on the pantry shelf, or the butter and milk powder will go rancid. (It's a good idea to write out how much mix and water to use for baking individual batches on the outside of the package, as well as the oven temperature needed, and time needed to bake.
You will have 2 cups of dough left over for making two batches of dumplings, for stew. (recipe below).
TO MAKE BISCUITS:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
3 cups very cold biscuit mix
1 cup cold water, (plus 1 tablespoon, if the dough doesn't totally hold together). You want a minimum amount of liquid or they will turn out tough.
Stir biscuit mix and water together using a fork, mixing lightly. MIX ONLY UNTIL A SOFT DOUGH IS FORMED. The dough should be soft, but not sticky.
Turn out onto a lightly floured counter or onto parchment paper. Gently pat dough with your hand, or roll out gently with a very lightly floured rolling pin, into a rectangle, one and a quarter inch thick.
Using a floured 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter, push straight down (do not twist) then lift straight up. Place biscuits on an ungreased baking tray, lined with parchment paper if desired. Gently push remaining dough together, taking care not to over work, and stamp out the rest.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes (mine took 13), or until golden on the tops. Makes 9 or 10 biscuits, depending on how thick they are.
1 cup biscuit mix
1/2 cup water
Mix gently together with a fork until just moistened, the biscuit mix and water (use a tiny bit more if needed). Using a medium large spoon, drop dumplings over the top of hot stew that is ready to serve. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes. Do not remove cover until the full time is up.