Baking Powder Biscuits

Biscuits require careful handling, but as long as it’s cool in the kitchen and you don’t heavily over-knead the dough, it’s easy to turn out excellent versions.

Makes about 12 biscuits, depending on the size of the cutter used

3 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 12 pieces

1 1/4 cups whole milk

Two cookie sheets or jellyroll pans lined with parchment or foil

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 425˚F.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse several times to mix.
  3. Add the butter and pulse again repeatedly until no visible pieces of butter remain and the mixture is still cool and powdery, but not pasty.
  4. Invert to a mixing bowl and carefully remove the blade. Add the milk and use a rubber spatula to scrape upward from the bottom of the bowl and moisten the dough as evenly as possible.
  5. Invert the contents of the bowl to a floured work surface (A). Press the dough into a 6- to 7-inch square (B), then fold it in three: Fold the bottom third of the dough closest to you up over the middle third (C), then fold the top third down over that. Press it out again a little longer in the length and repeat the folding into thirds, this time from the short ends (D through F). Press the dough back out into a 6- to 7-inch square (G).
  6. Use a 2- to 2 1/2-inch plain round cutter, flouring it before each cut, to cut out the biscuits (H). Cut them close together to avoid generating too many scraps.
  7. Press the scraps together into a rectangle only as wide as your cutter and three times as long. Cut out three more biscuits and discard the remaining scraps.
  8. Arrange the biscuits about 1 inch (apart on the prepared pans. For advance preparation, cover the pans with plastic wrap and chill the biscuits for up to 2 hours before baking, then bake them straight from the refrigerator, without returning them to room temperature. If you intend to prepare the biscuits in advance, preheat the oven only about 20 minutes before baking.
  9. Bake the biscuits until they are deep golden and well risen, 15 to 20 minutes. Let the baked biscuits cool for a couple of minutes on the pan before serving.