First, let's deal with the whole 'biscuit vs cookie' debate - if you're from the U.K. then you'll probably have a very different idea of what a biscuit is compared to someone from the U.S.
According to Oxford Dictionaries (the source of all knowledge!), the term 'biscuit' is defined in these two ways:
British: a small baked unleavened cake, typically crisp, flat, and sweet.
North American: a small, soft round cake like a scone.
Basically, what an American calls a cookie, is a biscuit for a British person. Confusing, but true!
So with that out of the way, I'm going to guide you through a no-fail recipe for traditional, American-style biscuits - what a Brit would probably define as a 'scone'.
These are light, crumbly, and tender. Let's get started!
You'll need some basic baking equipment:
- Mixing bowl
- Wooden mixing spoon
- Flat, non-sticky surface for forming the biscuits (baking mat or similar)
- Baking paper
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup of shortening (look for the trans-fat free option from Crisco or Spectrum Organics - if you can't find a good shortening option then you can use 1/4 cup of butter instead - but be warned that this will change the consistency slightly!)
- 3/4 cup of milk
Now, how to make biscuits in five easy steps:
- Sift all the dry ingredients together. Cut in the shortening (or softened butter) until the mixture resembles coarse meal or crumbs.
- Make a good-sized hollow in the mixture and stir in enough milk to make a soft dough that leaves the sides of the bowl and sticks to the mixing spoon - it's important to not overmix!
- Turn onto your lightly floured baking mat and begin to knead the mixture with the heel of your hand about 10 to 12 times. Be careful to knead gently so your biscuits don't have a tough texture. You want a fine, flaky texture.
- Roll into your desired thickness and shape. Place the biscuits close together on a baking sheet if you want soft sides, or an inch apart for crusty sides.
- Pop in the oven to bake at 450° for just over 10 minutes. These are best served immediately, all hot and crusty!
Prepare to bask in the praise and adoration of your biscuit-consumers. These are guaranteed to please!