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Old 11-05-2006, 11:35 PM   #1
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Biscuits not rising

I've tried three times to make biscuits from scratch using a recipe from the Food Network. The first two times they barely rose and someone mistook them for cookies. The third time they did rise some but I don't think they came out right, plus, they don't even get light brown. It's not really a big deal as they taste good but it would be nice to know why they aren't coming out right.

I'm trying to figure out what the problem is. If it's an ingredient problem or if I'm overworking the dough.

I don't have access to the recipe right now but the ingredients are:
flour (all purpose, I think)
baking powder
baking soda
unsalted butter
salt (I think)
and heavy cream to brush on the top

The first two times I made it, I used an older flour (a year old). The third time I used a brand new one.

The baking powder I have is very old, a cheap brand, and sort of caked together (must remember to buy some at the store). The third time I made the biscuits I sifted the baking powder before using it to get out the chunks.

The buttermilk I used isn't real buttermilk. I just mix milk with a little lemon juice and let it sit 10 minutes and that's my imitation buttermilk. I also don't have heavy cream for the top so I make an imitation heavy cream.

Any ideas as to why the biscuits aren't rising and why they rose more the third time then the first two times?


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Old 11-05-2006, 11:40 PM   #2
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Sounds like the old chunky baking powder is the culprit. Baking powder has a limited shelf life. Look for an expiration date on the can.

The buttermilk you made is OK and the age of the flour shouldn't make a difference.

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Old 11-06-2006, 12:18 AM   #3
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Your recipe seems okay, having baking powder and soda in it. Try sifting the flour, baking powder and soda together twice and bake at 180 degrees C. If your biscuits still do not rise, replace the baking powder.
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Old 11-06-2006, 01:27 AM   #4
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You can't do anything with a can of old baking powder except throw it out! You need tobuy a new one once a year, whether you've used it or not.

I never use butter in biscuits, however...

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Old 11-06-2006, 03:56 AM   #5
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1st - definitely 86 the old baking powder and go get a good brand of double action baking powder.
2nd - the old flour should be ok, but give it a whiff and check to see that there aren't any crawling things in it.

3rd - stick with the butter, but you can also use regular butter without any problems.

4th - buttermilk biscuits are good, but you can use regular milk too. instead of the baking soda, substitute 3 times the amount of baking powder. for example, if your recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, you'll use 2 t + 1 1/2 t = 3 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder.

5th - are you preheating your oven? if the biscuits aren't rising it's your old baking powder, but if they aren't browning either the oven temp. is too low or you aren't cooking them quite long enough. most likely your oven temp should be between 400 - 450 degrees f. make sure it's up to temp. before throwing in the biscuits. too low a heat will also retard the rising somewhat.

6th - keep trying and good luck!
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Old 11-06-2006, 06:27 AM   #6
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Little doubt that as others have said, it's the BP. There's nothing wrong with using butter as the shortening--it is a shortening and gives a wonderful flavor.
The big "secret" to light biscuits, in addition to correct ingredients and fresh leavening is a light touch with the dough. Add your liquid carefully just until the dough all comes together. "knead" it a few turns on your counter, just combining, folding and turning only 2 or 3 times to get it all together.
I pat my dough out to about 1/3"--or maybe a little more. If the beginning depth isn't enough, they come out pretty thin even after rising. Cut by pushing straight down on your cutter--not twisting.
Put in the pre-heated oven and enjoy 10 minutes later!!
A way we like to have biscuits for a big breakfast is to bake them, split and butter the sides and put back in the broiler to brown the buttered top.
I do not use BP a lot so replace it often--it is cheap and there is no reason to have failures because it is inactive. You can test by putting some in water to see if it foams up.
The soda in your recipe is to counteract the baking soda. Buttermilk biscuits are the best, I think.
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Old 11-06-2006, 06:40 AM   #7
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ditto on what the others have suggested

Dump the old baking powder and buy a good quality fresh can.

Milk set with lemon juice or vinegar works well as a buttermilk substitute for biscuits.

use a light hand when making the biscuits

preheat to a hot oven

Buttermilk biscuits are the best!! Good luck......
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Old 11-06-2006, 11:28 AM   #8
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My first husband's Aunt Gert made the best biscuits I ever ate, using self-rising flour, powdered milk, and lard as the shortening. She kneaded them lightly, then patted them out by hand and packed them side-by-side into a heavy baking pan.

If you haven't checked it out before, self-rising flour already has the proper amount of baking powder, soda & salt.
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Old 11-06-2006, 12:46 PM   #9
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Constance is correct about the self rising flour--MUCH used in the South. But, it also will go out of date so should be bought fresh. If you can find White Lily brand flours, they are de rigeur for southern biscuit making--a very soft flour.
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Old 11-06-2006, 01:49 PM   #10
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The biggest problem I've found with biscuits is the exact right amount of kneading. All the recipes kept saying, "Work it as little as possible". Well, I can work a completely mixed dough very little. And it won't rise worth a darn.

I can't describe the exact amount to knead a dough. It depends on your technique for mixing the dough and kneading it. But try working the dough a bit more each time until you get good results.

One last trick. A cut edge will rise higher than a formed edge in biscuit dough.


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