rolled baking powder biscuits

After four months of making these biscuits for Food Science lab, this recipe should be firmly embedded in my brain somewhere. Week after week, we made two or three batches of these biscuits and tested and poked them all kinds of ways. We added cinnamon and dried cherries, or onion and chives, or bacon and cheddar. But even with all the variations, nothing dissuaded me from loving the simple deliciousness of the basic, no-frills, rolled baking powder biscuit. The key is to avoid overworking the dough. If it’s done right, you’ll end up with a golden biscuit with fluffy insides and a delicately crunchy exterior.

Plus, they split nicely… these are really great with a pat of butter and some honey drizzled on top. Oh! And a cup of hot tea. Definitely.

Basic Rolled Biscuits
- from my lab book… and nearly identical to the recipe from the Joy of Cooking

2 c all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt
5-6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 c milk, plus a little more for brushing on top

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Drop in the butter, and cut in using two knives or a pastry blender. Do not let the butter melt or form a paste with the flour. Pour in the 3/4 c milk and mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened. With a lightly floured hand, gather the dough into a ball and knead it gently against the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times until it generally forms a single mass. You may need to sprinkle in a little more flour if the dough is too sticky.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough (or, if you do not have a rolling pin, just flatten the dough out with your hands) to approximately 1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut out 3-inch rounds (we like big fluffy biscuits around here, but you can make whatever size floats your boat) with a biscuit cutter. Push the cutter straight down and pull out without twisting. Reroll/reflatten the scraps to cut additional biscuits out of the remaining dough.

Then, brush the tops well with a little extra milk. Or, use your (clean) fingertips, like I did.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.


  • I love that this recipe is easily halved. It makes around 4 large biscuits… the perfect brunch amount for two people on the weekends.
  • Do pay attention when measuring out baking powder. Too much can result in a bitter, soapy tastenot yummy.

3 thoughts on “rolled baking powder biscuits

  1. tofugirl

    Those look great! I have to bookmark this recipe; I can never get my biscuits to come out flaky like that…maybe I’m overworking my dough.

  2. Ashley Post author

    @tofugirl: Thanks! With these biscuits, definitely only work the dough just until the dry and wet come together, and make sure when you cut the butter in, to leave some larger chunks intact (~pea size). I just made some this morning… yum…

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