Homemade biscuits, whether made from a mix or from scratch, depend on proper kneading to develop their tender and flaky texture. Kneading a flour-based dough releases gluten. Too much gluten firms up the dough, which causes it to become tough in a non-yeast bread. Biscuits require light kneading so that only enough gluten forms to hold the dough together. Proper kneading also presses the shortening into flakes without fully incorporating it.
Mix the biscuit ingredients until a ball begins to form and the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a ball.
Sprinkle enough flour on your work surface to provide a thin, even dusting. Place the dough ball on top of the flour. Press it down with your palm to flatten it.
Set your fingertips on top of the flattened dough ball. Pull the dough toward you until it starts to roll over, then push it away so the dough on top is pushed into the dough beneath in a rolling motion. This completes one knead of the dough.
Move your fingers back to the top of the dough. Pull and push it a second time. Knead the dough in this manner eight to 10 times, or until the dough ball becomes dry and firm enough to work, but the flecks of the butter or shortening in the dough are still separate and visible.
Roll out the dough and cut it with a biscuit cutter. Alternatively, pat the dough into 2-inch wide, 1/2-inch thick patties with your hands.
- Use cold butter or shortening and cut it into the dry ingredients until the shortening is in pea-sized pieces. This method prevents the shortening from blending completely into the dough, resulting in a more tender biscuit.
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