Biscuits and Gravy — Harder Than it Looks

29 Oct

It must have been arrogance.  There is no other explanation.  I had read countless discussions of why biscuits had fallen flat—literally.  But I didn’t think it would happen to me, even though it was my first attempt at biscuits.  No, I thought I had beaten the game.  I had acquired White Lily flour you see, the supposed secret to perfect biscuits.  All I had to do was follow the recipe on the back of the bag, and my biscuits would be wonderful.

Not so much.


Maybe it was my recipe (I just used the one on the back of the bag).  More likely it was my technique (or lack thereof).  Most likely it was my inexperience (that and technique). There is a reason that people are proud of their biscuit making prowess, and that they speak highly of well-made biscuits.  It gives me something to aspire to at least.

My biscuits on the other hand did not rise.  For the most part, they were barely a quarter of an inch tall.  They tasted good, but just didn’t grow the way they were supposed to. (And as a result, were also more dense than they should have been.)  One thing that I know wasn’t the problem was the baking powder; it was fresh.


But I have identified a few problems that I DO intend to address next time.  1) I won’t use a rolling pin.  After looking at comments on the countless discussions about why biscuits end up like hockey pucks, the usage of a rolling pin stands out as one possible problem.  2) I will remember not to twist my biscuit cutter.  I actually knew this already, and remembered about halfway through not to do it.  Once I stopped doing it, the latter biscuits turned out noticeably better.

My sad, short, little biscuits.

My sad, short, little biscuits.

The final thing I plan on doing to improve my biscuit making is even simpler.  Practice.  If it’s a question of technique and skill, then I suppose the only thing left to do is practice. Maybe I’ll experiment with different recipes.  Or perhaps even different flours.  But I’m not going to give up.


2 cups White Lily Enriched Flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup Shortening, chilled

2/3 to 3/4 cups buttermilk or milk

1. Heat oven to 500 °F. Coat baking sheet with no-stick cooking spray.

2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender or 2 knives until crumbs are the size of peas. Blend in just enough milk with fork until dough leaves sides of bowl.

3. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently 2 to 3 times. Roll dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut using floured 2-inch biscuit cutter. Place on prepared baking sheet 1 inch apart for crisp sides or almost touching for soft sides

4.Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.

They still tasted good, thanks in part to the excellent sausage gravy.

They still tasted good, thanks in part to the excellent sausage gravy.

I may however make the sausage gravy the exact same way. The gravy was way, way easier than I expected it to be.  It’s basically sausage, flour, milk, and spices.  I had always thought that there was some cream or something else in there, but I was wrong.  Turns out sausage gravy is (slightly) healthier than I thought it was.

Sausage Gravy

1 pound bulk pork sausage

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups milk



Cayenne pepper (optional but delicious)

1. Heat a large skillet over medium. Add the sausage and break into chunks with a spatula. Cook until the meat is crumbled and browned all the way through.

2. Add the flour and cook until dissolved, about 1 minute.

3. Stir in the milk. Cook, whisking frequently, until the gravy is very thick and bubbly.  Season generously with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper (and cayenne if using).


2 Responses to “Biscuits and Gravy — Harder Than it Looks”

  1. persnicketybiscuit October 31, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    You may have been disappointed, but I think they look good!

  2. Hobbes November 28, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    Rule number 1 in biscuit making is do not over work your dough. I use to do the samething and always ended up with little, tasty, flat hockey pucks. When working in your fats, use your hands. Mix/work in your fat with your fingers until it resembles cornmeal. Then mix in your liquid just until it comes together but make sure all the lumps are gone. You can either use your rolling pin or pat the dough out flat (folding it in upon itself). Do this only a couple of times because anymore than that and you’ve over worked the dough. And finally practise, practise, practise. Another recipe we like to use is Alton Brown’s from the Food Network if you can find it.

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