I ♥ layered, flakey, buttery biscuits. I mean, I like all kinds of breads (who doesn’t?!), but there will always be a special place in my heart for flakey pastries and biscuits. There is just something special about peeling off layers and popping them in your mouth. If you share my affinity for layered biscuits and are on the hunt for a low sodium recipe, read on!
For starters, do you use “flakey” or “flaky”? I usually use flaky, but I decided to go against my own grain for this post and use flakey. The dictionary doesn’t differentiate between the two, so I never know what to use. I am not sure that I like the extra “e” a whole lot, but c’est la vie.
Okay back to biscuits. We are always on the lookout for quick breads to pair with soups that need something a little extra special. (Hint: they go great with the Roasted Red Pepper Soup.). Because quick bread tend to use salt and high-sodium rising agents (like baking powder and baking soda), they don’t always translate well to a low sodium version. I also got a request on Facebook for a good biscuit recipe. I sure hope this recipe fits the bill. (My 13 year old stepdaughter has given them her stamp of approval, even without the salt. Granted she pours honey over the top, but I still consider it a win.)
I have some tips for making these the best and flakiest biscuits that they can be. Because I like lists , I am going into list mode here. (Intermission – my husband and I periodically send each other little lists along the lines of “why you are awesome” because lists just scream romance, don’t they? We also occasionally use limericks to communicate so maybe I’ll blog a limerick one day.)
Tips, Tips, Tips
Use cold butter
Cold fat is absolutely essential to creating nice layers. As the biscuits bake, the butter releases steam which separates the layers. If the butter is soft, it will fully incorporate into the dough and you will not get the steam-made layers.
Do not overwork the dough
You want the butter to be sort of chunky in the dough. If it fully incorporates into the dough, you guessed it – no layers.
Keep the dough cold
If you are not going to use the dough immediately, keep it refrigerated so that the butter in the dough stays cold. It is okay to refrigerate the dough for a while before you roll it out – just don’t let it get to room temp or you risk losing the layers.
Roll the dough, fold it in thirds, repeat
To create the layers, you will roll out the dough, fold it over onto itself and repeat several times. I have a series of photos after the recipe showing exactly what I mean by this. It is not difficult, I promise. But it is very important; the folding and rolling is what creates the lamination (lovely, lovely layers).
Make clean cuts
Do not use a blunt biscuit butter, because this will press the edges down and seal them. If the edges are sealed, your biscuits won’t be able to rise. Likewise, do not twist the biscuit cutter. You want to use a sharp-edged cutter and press it straight down.
Use a light-colored pan
I use a light colored pan (similar to this pan), or parchment paper to help guard the bottoms from burning. Biscuits rise best in very hot (and pre-heated!) ovens, but I have trouble getting the tops of my biscuits browned before the bottoms get too dark. To solve this, I use a light colored pan or I line a pan with parchment or a silicon baking mat. You will see from my photos that I used parchment paper and a light colored pan, but the parchment paper was not really necessary. If I had used a darker pan, the parchment paper absolutely would have been necessary.
I know that looks like a lot of instructions, but none are too complex and all are essential to good biscuits. If you have other methods or tips that work for you, drop me a comment below! I love learning new things. Also, remember that I put lots of photos after the recipe to give you a visual of the process for making these biscuits. Bake on!
Buttery Flakey Biscuits
SODIUM COUNT: 12 mg per biscuit; 180 mg in the entire recipe
- 1 1/8 cup milk (1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons)
- 4 tsp white vinegar
- 3 ½ cups all purpose flour*
- 2 Tbsp sodium-free baking powder
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter (cut into ½” cubes)
- 2 Tbsp melted unsalted butter (for brushing on top)
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Combine the milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a medium bowl.** Add the cold, cubed butter to the flour. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles course crumbs. (You can also cut the butter in using a food processor if you prefer.) I keep my hands out of the mixture as much as possible to keep the butter cold (that’s what makes those beautiful layers!).
Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the milk mixture. Stir until it just comes together; do not over-mix.
Press the dough into a ball and place on a floured surface. Roll out into a rectangle, to about ¼” thickness. Fold the dough into thirds by folding the left side into the center and the right side over the top (see photos). Rotate dough, re-flour the surface if necessary, and roll the dough into rectangle, again to about ¼” thickness. Fold into thirds again. Repeat this process another 2-3 times.
When you are ready to cut your biscuits, roll the dough to ½” thickness. The biscuits should double in height in the oven. Using a sharp biscuit cutter, cut the biscuits, being sure not to twist the cutter.** Place the cut biscuits onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.*** Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter.
Bake the biscuits in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until they are browned on top. Serve warm.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION – Yield: 15 servings (biscuits)
Sodium: 12.0 mg, Calories: 236.1, Total Fat: 14.3 g, Saturated Fat: 8.9 g, Cholesterol: 37.4 mg, Carbohydrates: 23.2 g, Fiber: 0.8 g, Sugar: 0.1 g, Protein: 3.8 g.
*These will also work great with cake flour. If you do use cake flour, you will need a bit more (perhaps 4 cups total).
**You can re-roll your dough scraps to make more biscuits. You may lose some of the layering from the biscuits in the second roll, but they will still be yummy.
***I used a very light colored pan lined with parchment paper to keep the bottoms from burning. The parchment paper was not necessary using a very light colored pan (like an AirBake pan), but if you use a darker-bottomed pan, you will want to use parchment paper or a silicon mat to prevent the bottoms from getting too dark.
Cold, cubed butted is the first step to nice layers.
See in the photo below how I have worked in the butter, but left nice chunks? That will make little pockets of butter that will steam in the oven and create those layers you’re after. You can even leave your butter chunks a bit bigger than that.
Don’t overwork the dough. See how it is kind of “shaggy”? That’s good; do that.
Then you will form the dough into a ball and place it on a floured surface (aka a table top, like me).
Then you just shape or roll out your dough into a rectangle (ish). The dough might be more like an oval when you start, but will become more and more rectangular as you continue to fold and roll.
Now you are going to fold the dough into thirds. Do this by folding one side of the dough (1/3 of the dough) over onto the center.
Then you fold the other side over what you’ve just folded.
Repeat 3-4 times, until the dough is smooth. (See how it turned into a rectangle?)
You can use whatever cutter you like, but this is why I like using a square cutter (almost no waste!).