Young Baker's Apprentice Lab: Biscuits
Updated: May 21
Are you new to baking? Are you teaching a school baking lab of beginners? This is our newest addition to the Formulation Lab Section here on the Panhandle Milling website. This Young Baker's Apprentice series is going to be full of basic lessons for beginning bakers. We hope it will give you all the expertise you need to become a great baker. We'll list ingredients by U.S volume and metric weight. It will give you experience in accuracy and the chemistry of baking.
In today's Recipe
We're showcasing our White Whole Wheat Blend. This is an exclusive Panhandle Milling flour made with 55% whole grain white wheat blended with unbleached white flour. It can be used cup-for-cup like regular all purpose flour in all of your baking applications. It has 8% of the daily recommendation of fiber per serving, but tastes remarkably light.
Some of the Basics
We realize that for many of our young bakers, this is the first time they are going to be in the kitchen. Make it fun. Keep it light. The attitudes and experiences they have now will impact the rest of their life in the kitchen. Here are some of the basic guidelines for tools and how to use them for baking recipes.
Gather all the equipment and ingredients on the recipe listed below.
Wash and sanitize all equipment, work surfaces and hands before baking.
Dry Volume Measuring Cups
Measuring cups are not the same as drinking cups.
Use only measuring cups designed for baking.They will be specific with the actual measurements printed on the handles.
Dry Volume Measuring cups come in various sizes. There's usually 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/4 cup, and 1/3 cup. To make 3/4 cup, you will need to measure one 1/2 cup and add 1/4 cup.
Dry volume measuring spoons are not the same as cereal or soup spoons. Always look for the measuring spoons and use them to measure the smaller ingredients.
Measuring spoons will have the spoon measurement written on the handle of the spoon and vary in size.
The larger spoon is called Tablespoons and will be abbreviated in recipes as Tbsp. Be careful. Some measuring spoons will sometimes be tricky and have a half Tablespoon measuring spoon!
The smaller spoon is called a teaspoon. It will be abbreviated as tsp. or Tsp. You can remember it easier if you think of a dollhouse tea set being small like a "tea-spoon".
You should know that 3 teaspoons are equal to 1 Tablespoon. How many teaspoons would be in 2 Tablespoons?
You should know that there are 16 Tablespoons in 1 Cup. How many Tablespoons would be in 1/2 cup? How many Tablespoons would be in 1/4 cup?
There are 5 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon in 1/3 cup.
U.S. Volume measurement of Flour should be measured light and fluffy and not packed into the cup.
The best way to do this is to lightly scoop the flour into the measuring cup using a large spoon until it is full.
Then, level the top with the flat edge of a knife. Butter knives are usually curved on one side. If the curved side is used to try and level the flour, it will not give you a true measurement, since some of the flour will get scooped out of the cup.
Shortening and Butter Measurement
Shortening comes in several forms. Usually, it can be found in a can or in a cube, as you'd see with a cube of butter or margarine.
Recipes will be specific about using shortening or butter. They are not the same thing. Shortening does not contain any liquid or moisture.
Butter and margarine have various amounts of liquid in them. If a recipe asks for shortening, you cannot use a tub of butter spread or margarine spread instead. The liquid in those spreads will not give you the same results in your baking.
In recipes calling for butter, use the markings on the side of the package to tell you exactly where to cut the cube to get the perfect measurement.
Measuring Tub Shortening
scoop into the cup and press against the edges to push out any air that may be in the cup.
Level the shortening in the same way that you did with the flour, using the flat side of the butter knife.
All liquid ingredients should be measured in a clear liquid measuring cup.
Usually the liquid measuring cups are glass in home kitchens.
When you fill the liquid, make sure your cup is on a flat surface.
Look at the cup from the side to verify that it is filled correctly.
Blending Shortening into flour mixture
Many Bakers refer to this style of recipe blending when the fat is mixed with the dry ingredients as "Biscuit Method" or "Pastry Method".
The shortening or fat is mixed with the flour mixture. In so doing, the fat coats the flour particles, making it more difficult for the proteins in flour to connect and be stiff.
It makes the flakes and layers that are seen in biscuits and pie crusts.
In this recipe, we use our hands to blend the shortening with the flour so students can really get a "feel" for what the blend should be. It also makes it a lot more fun!
Half-sheet baking sheet pan
Dry measuring Cups and Spoons
Liquid measuring cup
Kitchen Scale (if weighing)
Biscuit Cutter (2 inch)
Butter knife with a straight back
1/2 gallon mixing bowl
Preheat your oven to 450°F.
Wash and sanitize work surface, hands and tools before using.
Measure all the ingredients
For Flour and Dry ingredients, gently scoop the flour into the measuring cup. With the flat side of a butter knife, gently scrape off any extra flour so that the cup is completely flat, but full.
For the shortening, with a butter knife, gently press the shortening into the cup, being careful to remove any air bubbles in the cup so that it is completely full. Or, use pre-measured cubes of shortening or butter. 1/2 cup is equal to 8 Tbsp.
For measuring liquid, be sure to use a liquid measuring cup with the graduated measurements on the side. Measure on a flat surface and make sure the liquid comes up to the line completely.
Measuring the baking powder, make sure the measuring spoon is completely full. Scrape off any extra baking powder on the baking powder container or with a knife. It should be flat.
Measuring the salt, make sure it is also flat with the spoon.
Mix the dry ingredients in a half-gallon sized bowl by stirring well with a spoon.
Combine the shortening or butter with the dry ingredients, being sure to completely clean out the measuring cup.
Mix until the shortening has been cut into tiny pieces, the size of a pea. This can be done with a fork, pastry blending tool, or with your hands. Using your hands is our favorite. Gently rub the flour and shortening between your hands until it flakes and blends. The shortening pieces should be very small.
Add the liquid to the dry ingredients. First, make a small well in the middle of the flour/shortening mixture. Add milk or buttermilk to the flour/shortening mixture. Mix very gingerly until a light dough is formed.
Mix just until the liquid is absorbed, less than a minute.
Flour your work surface very well. Take a moment to draw a picture in the flour with your fingers.
Knead the dough 4-5 times on the well-floured surface.
Fold the dough onto itself a few times.
Then fold like a book.
Roll out the dough on a floured counter top 1 inch thick in a rectangle.
Cut into biscuits, leaving as little space as possible between biscuits. We used a 2-inch cutter for larger biscuits.
Carefully tear away the biscuits from the rolled dough.
Place on ungreased baking sheet about an inch apart from each other. A dozen should fit on a half-sheet pan. Do not eat raw dough.
Make sure oven is pre-heated to the full temperature before baking.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 15-20 minutes.
While biscuits are baking, wash and sanitize all your measuring tools, work surfaces and hands. Of course, you can make art with the flour for a while first.
Remove the biscuits from the oven with a hot pad and place on a heat-safe surface or cooling wire rack. Allow to cool 10 minutes before eating.