These biscuits may be made with whole-wheat flour but please don’t hold that against them. They are as flaky and tender as any white-flour biscuit, thanks to a cool technique we learned at King Arthur Flour Blog & Bake™. It was actually a technique the chef instructors showed us during a demo for Blitz Puff Pastry. But I figured it would actually work pretty well for getting that nice pull-apart flaky biscuit texture too. And what do you know? It worked!
So here we go, the method for getting these biscuit fork-split-flaky is actually related to the process of laminating dough. That is the way bakeries make croissants and puff pastry. With traditional lamination, a large sheet of butter is layered into a sheet of relaxed dough (or detremp) through a series of folds and rolling. When the dough is baked, the butter melts and the steam it creates helps the dough to rise, and the melted fat creates flakes in the layers of dough. It is quite brilliant actually.
But it takes a ton of time to do that, and I haven’t done it since I was in culinary school. So, as I mentioned, this technique I used for the biscuits, is based on that from making the blitz puff pastry. At Blog and Bake we made our Blitz dough into cheese straws, you can see the photo here. Blitz dough takes a little shortcut and results in surprisingly flaky dough still. For blitz dough, and for these biscuits you cut the butter in by hand sort-of like for pie dough, except the butter is pressed down into flat flakes. Think of them as being mini sheets of butter. See “photo a” below. [You don’t want to break it into tiny pieces like for pie dough, that would make them tender, but not flaky.] Then the dough is folded into thirds, rolled, folded again and rolled again. This process ends up making flat shards of butter between the layers of dough, which results in those glorious biscuit layers. You can actually see the butter smeared under the layer of raw dough when it is all rolled out.
If you read the ingredient list below, you’ll see that I included some oil, which isn’t typical in a rolled and cut biscuit. Here I added it to add tenderness without adding even more saturated fat from butter. “If you wanted less saturated fat, why not use all oil instead of butter?” you ask. The reason is that oil is not magic like butter. Oil is pure fat, unlike butter which is actually a solid emulsion of fat and milk solids. So when butter melts within a pastry you get steam and fat. When oil is heated, you just get fat, which tenderizes, but won’t create layers or flakes. Total sat fat per serving, 3.75 grams.
Also in the ingredient list is white whole-wheat flour. White whole-wheat flour is milled from a lighter-colored and more mild tasting variety of wheat berries than typical whole-wheat flour. It is almost identical in nutrient and protein quantities. But it won’t give you that strong wheaty flavor that a lot of people who are new to whole grains dislike. Fiber: 2.4 grams each. Protein: 3.75 g.
In step three, the dough is refrigerated for at least a half hour. This step is really important for three reasons. The moisture in the dough from the buttermilk will help soften the bran of the whole-wheat flour, so it will be smooth and not grainy on the tongue. It will also give the gluten some time to relax, so you can roll it out a final time. And it will stiffen the butter back up so that it does it above mentioned melting magic at just the right time and not too soon. If it were to melt too soon your pastry would be greasy and not have as much oven rise action.
I also made this handy little photo tutorial for you and your pinning pleasure. Wasn’t that nice of me:)
Oh, one last thing, my daughters wanted you to know that these are best split in half with a fork and smeared with a little whipped cream cheese and topped with scrambled eggs. Yessiree! Just sayin’ my kids know what time it is, when it comes to good eats.Print
- 1 ½ cup white whole-wheat flour
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup chopped chives
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus coarse salt for garnish
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 2/3 cup non-fat buttermilk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Whisk white whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, chives, baking powder, sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add butter and toss to coat with the flour mixture. Quickly work butter into the flour mixture by squeezing the flour-coated pieces of butter into the mixture. (photo a)Press all of the butter flat until no cubes remain. Drizzle the canola oil over the flour mixture, and toss with a fork until the canola is mixed in.
- Make a well in the center of the dry mix and pour in the buttermilk. (photo b) Gradually stir the liquid into the flour mixture until the mixture is shaggy, working gently with hands to get it to come together. (photo c) Turn the shaggy mass out onto a lightly floured surface. (photo d)Knead together until the dough comes together as a single piece. It will still be pretty rough and uneven (photo e) (Do not overwork.)
- Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, straightening the edges and keeping the corners square with a bench scraper or ruler (photo f) to 10-inches wide by 15-inches long (photo g). Fold the dough in thirds (photo i) like you would fold a piece of paper to go into an envelope. Make sure to brush off excess flour as you fold (photo h). Repeat rolling the dough and folding. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate dough until the gluten has relaxed, and the butter is stiff again, 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Roll dough to 6 by 12 inches. Cut into 8 biscuits with a 2 3/4-inch biscuit cutter. (Do not twist cutter.) Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Brush egg over the biscuits. Lightly sprinkle coarse salt over the biscuits. Bake until the biscuits are puffed and lightly golden, 13 to 15 minutes. (photo j)
Saturated Fat: 3.81 g. Fiber: 2.4 g. Protein: 3.75 g. Sodium: 239 mg.
- Serving Size: 1 biscuit
- Calories: 135.8
- Fat: 6 g