Have you ever made a batch of biscuits from scratch and they came out dense, flat, or chewy? They were still edible hopefully, but the biscuits we all know and love are light and fluffy…buttery…sturdy enough to maybe make a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich from, but still tender enough to melt in your mouth. One of the most important parts of achieving that tender biscuit texture is making sure the biscuits rise as much as possible.
In this post we’ll go over:
- What makes biscuits rise
- The difference between yeast-raised and chemically-raised baked goods
- Ideal biscuit size for various uses
- Tips and tricks to get more height on your biscuits
What makes biscuits rise?
Biscuits get their rise from the combination of baking powder, baking soda, and buttermilk. Baking powder and baking soda are chemical leaveners that create carbon dioxide when they come into contact with moisture. This carbon dioxide creates bubbles that are turned into air pockets when the gluten structure forms around the bubbles as the biscuits bake. This abundance of air pockets causes the dough to rise. The acid in buttermilk also helps activate the baking powder and baking soda and contributes to the biscuits’ rise.
Yeast-raised vs. chemically-raised baked goods
Chemically raised baked goods, like biscuits or cakes, use chemical leaveners, such as baking soda and baking powder to cause them to rise.
Yeast baked goods rely on the fermentation of yeast to create carbon dioxide bubbles, which makes the dough rise. While chemically raised baked goods require much less time and effort to create, yeast-based products usually produce a more complex flavor.
Ideal biscuit size for various uses
Biscuits that are being used to make sandwiches should be larger and are best with a maximum amount of rise. Cutting the biscuits to 3-4 inches wide should be a perfect sandwich size. Pile it high with eggs, breakfast meat, cheese, fruit spreads, and more.
For biscuits that will be served on the side of a dish, 2-inch biscuits are perfect. That’s just enough to sop up the delicious gravies and juices. Plus, making the biscuits smaller means there will be more to go around for your dinner guests.
Even smaller 1-inch biscuits can even be made for a biscuit bar/sampler situation. Just plate the mini-biscuits with an assortment of toppings and let the fun begin!
Top 5 tips for taller biscuits
- Use buttermilk, as this helps to activate the baking powder and baking soda.
- Make sure the butter, buttermilk, and dough, in general, are cold and that all ingredients are cold when mixing. Cold butter means more opportunities for expanding air pockets (aka rise) to form once the butter melts.
- Do not over-mix the dough, as this can cause it to become dense.
- Put the biscuits closer together on the baking sheet. They will press together and up as they bake.
- Preheat the oven to place the biscuits in a very hot oven so that the rising happens more quickly.
Popular biscuit recipes
- Sweet Potato Biscuits
- Vegan “Buttermilk” Biscuits
- 3-Ingredient Buttermilk Biscuits
- Glazed Blueberry Biscuits
My name is Lena aka The Biscuit Lady, and my favorite part about cooking, baking, and experimenting with food is realizing that something isn’t as hard as I previously thought. It’s the learning, growth, and immense pride that come with developing new, delicious skills.
My style of cooking combines familiar flavors and ingredients with techniques I’ve picked up from traveling, reading, and eating all kinds of cuisines. I believe that food is one of those things (like music) that truly moves and connects us and this blog is my way of introducing that concept, plus a few others relating to food and community to anyone who’s interested.
Besides being in the kitchen, I enjoy visual art, photography and documentaries, forests, rivers & beaches, Jeopardy! (RIP Alex Trebek), and playing made-up games with my nephews.