Beaten Biscuits

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes about

    one dozen

Appears in

Good to the Grain

By Kim Boyce

Published 2010

  • About

I first tasted beaten biscuits in Kentucky. In the era before baking powder and baking soda, biscuit dough was beaten for long periods of time to give the biscuits lift. Contrary to what I had always thought—that the dough required a light hand to yield a tender biscuit—these biscuits are beaten and folded repeatedly and yet the results are very tender. Here I kept the method, using a bit of chemical leavening with the multigrain flour mix—I didn’t quite believe that I would get the lift without it.

These biscuits are small, with a fine, crumbly texture. The homemade multigrain flour mix gives them a pure, sweet, and nutty taste. They are particularly good slathered with Three-Citrus Marmalade. The rounds of biscuit dough also make a great topping for a fruit cobbler.

Butter for the pans

Ingredients

Dry Mix

  • 1 cup Multigrain Flour Mix
  • 1 cup whole-grain pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

Wet Mix

  • 3 ounces (¾ stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ¾ cup heavy cream

Method

  1. Place two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Rub two baking sheets with butter.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter. Add the butter to the dry mixture. Rub the butter between your fingers, breaking it into smaller and smaller bits until the pieces are the size of grains of rice. The more quickly you do this, the more the butter will stay solid, which is important for the success of the recipe.
  3. Add the cream. Working from the outer edge of the flour, draw your hands around the bowl to mix the cream into the flour. Mix until the dough just holds together.
  4. Dust a work surface with flour. Use a pastry scraper or a spatula to transfer the dough to the work surface. With a rolling pin, give the dough three good whacks, then fold the dough over and give it three more good whacks. Fold and whack five more times. Flour as needed.
  5. Gather the dough into a ball and roll it out to a ¾-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles, punching out the circles as close as possible to one another. Gather the excess dough, roll it out again, and punch out more circles. Repeat until all the dough is used, keeping in mind the more times you reroll the dough, the tougher the biscuits will be.
  6. Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between them.
  7. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. The biscuit tops should be a matte mahogany-brown.
  8. Enjoy warm, or even a few hours later. Like all biscuits, they’re best eaten the day they’re made but will keep in an airtight container for 2 days.