Ask Martha: Biscuits

Q: My biscuits usually come out of the oven flat and dense. How do I make them light and flaky?
—Ashley Williams, New York City

Photography by: Bryan Gardner

A: The secret to light and flaky biscuits lies in how you mix and handle the dough. Follow these tips for a foolproof batch.


Always start with well-chilled butter when mixing, and work quickly to keep it from melting. If the butter starts to soften while you are cutting it into the dry ingredients, chill the mixture in the freezer for about 10 minutes before proceeding.


Don’t overmix the ingredients—or overwork the dough. Both mistakes can result in tough biscuits. In fact, the butter should remain in small pieces (rather than be mixed to the point of creaminess).


Bake the biscuits in a hot oven -- 400 degrees or higher. This ensures that the bits of butter melt quickly, creating the steam that lifts the dough and adds height to the flaky layers.


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