Food stylist Shannon Peare shows us how to achieve biscuit brilliance.
Sometimes the best bake is the humble biscuit. Hand me a cup of tea and a pack of Rich Tea and watch them disappear! Biscuits were one of the first things I ever learned to bake. They are simple to make, but they can have their issues — so I’m here to give you the insider tips you need. Get the kettle on!
Chill your dough
If you find your biscuits spread too much once baked, it’s usually because the dough is too warm or soft going into the oven. Nearly all biscuit and cookie doughs benefit from being chilled before they are rolled out, shaped and baked. Chilling – or even freezing – your dough helps to solidify the butter and allows the biscuits to hold their shape better during cooking. It also stops them from being too greasy. Once you’ve made the biscuit dough, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for at least 20-30 minutes. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and cut out your preferred shapes, then place on a lined baking tray and refrigerate again for as long as possible. Chilling the dough a second time helps to prevent the biscuits spreading during baking. It is also important to leave adequate space between the biscuits on the baking tray.
One tough cookie
Wondering why your biscuits are too tough? Similar to pastry, the more you work the dough, the more the gluten will develop, and the tougher it’ll get. Once you add the wet ingredients, give it a quick mix with the electric mixer or food processor, then tip it out onto the counter and finish bringing it together using your hands. When the dough has just come together to form a ball, stop working it! Wrap the dough up and chill. I always make my biscuits by hand as there is much less chance of over-working the dough. If you’re making shaped biscuits, try to avoid re-rolling the trimmings too many times, as
doing this can also develop the gluten and result in tough biccies. If you find the dough is becoming elastic and hard to roll, wrap it in cling film and chill it for 10 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.
Keep them level
If your biscuits come out unevenly baked, it may be because the dough wasn’t rolled out evenly. When rolling out biscuit dough, you should turn the dough as you roll, ensuring even pressure and a nice even thickness. Stuck on you If you find your biscuits have all become one on the baking tray, it may because they were too close together on the tray or that the dough wasn’t chilled. However, they can be saved! As soon as the biscuits come out of the oven, re-stamp your biscuit shape into the baked dough while it’s still soft enough. Don’t leave it too long; as soon as the biscuit starts to set, it’ll be too late for this trick. Are they done yet? Biscuits are “tough cookies” in terms of figuring out whether they’re done. When baking biscuits, you’re looking for light golden edges. The middles will seem soft and underdone, but don’t fear! Once you remove the tray from the oven, allow the biscuits to cool completely on the tray. The heat of the tray will finish off the bake. This gives biscuits their signature snap, and cookies their bend.
Storage is key!
Assuming they’re going to last longer than that first afternoon, you’ll want to keep your delicious biscuits fresh and crisp. Sugar attracts moisture and homemade biccies often have a lot of sugar, so they are prone to losing their crunch. Always store your biscuits in an airtight tin. If you find you need to revive your biscuits, bake them again on a lined baking tray at about 160˚C for just a few minutes. This method helps to remove any excess moisture. This doesn’t work every time but hey, it’s worth a try.
Having a back up
If you love fresh biscuits as much as I do, why not keep a stash in your freezer? Follow your favourite biscuit recipe, cut your biscuits into whatever shape you like, chill on a tray until firm and then transfer to a container. The biscuits should be firm enough to stack in the container and then freeze. Biscuit dough will keep for up to 9-12 months if stored correctly in the freezer. Let’s be real though… they won’t last that long!
We hope these tips guide you towards biscuit perfection. May your biscuits always have snap, shape and dunkability! Are you ready to try out our 4 favourite biscuit recipes?