Every May, a bevy of biscuit lovers band together for the International Biscuit Festival held in Knoxville, Tennessee. We asked the winning competitors in 2017's biscuit baking competition, and some biscuit experts who attended the festival, for some tips that will help raise your biscuit game. Here's what they shared with us:
1. Handle with Care
Kim Asbury, 2017 Special Category winner and winner of the overall best biscuit: "I use plastic gloves so that I don't warm the biscuit dough with the natural body heat from my hands. I also smash the cold butter into the palms of my hand, and then I flake it off with my fingers into the biscuit dough. It's a nice way to incorporate the butter."
2. Try Alternatives to Butter
Heidi Billoto, a Charlotte, N.C.-based culinary expert: "You can freeze olive oil and use it as a substitute for butter in any biscuit recipe. Another tip is to grate the cold butter into your dough."
3. Preheat That Skillet
Chadwick Boyd, Food and lifestyle expert: "If you're baking your biscuits in cast iron cookware, pre-heat the cookware before layering in your biscuit dough. It will create more steam while baking, and that results in a crispier biscuit."
4. The Big Chill + Love
Evie Braude, the 11-year-old winner of the 2017 Student Category: "I use lots of love, and lots of cold butter."
5. Yes, Add Yogurt
Alexis Durand, the 2017 Sweet Category winner: "I use a combination of milk and yogurt for the liquid ingredient in my biscuits. It helps create a crispy crust."
6. Fold the Dough
Connor Mathis, the 2017 Savory Category winner: "You can create layers in your biscuits by folding the dough before you use your biscuit cutter."
7. Go Ahead and Crowd the Pan
Carrie Morey, owner of Callie's Hot Little Biscuits, Charleston, S.C.: "Make sure that your biscuits touch other biscuits on all sides as they bake. This will help them rise more evenly. If you have extra space in your baking pan after you've put in your biscuits, shape some extra biscuit dough into a "snake" that is long enough to create a border that touches each biscuit.
8. Butter + Buttermilk Adds Great Flavor
Matt Sandbank, the 2016 biscuit baking competition winner: "Leavening agents can give biscuits an odd, chemical taste. I combine butter and buttermilk to mask that taste."
9. Praise the Lard
Adina Steinman, Epicurious.com: "I use a combination of butter and lard for the fat when I make biscuits. The butter gives great flavor, and the lard makes the biscuits fluffier and flakier."
Article author Adrian Miller is a James Beard Award-winning food writer, who happens to love biscuits. He was a "Special Category" judge at the 2017 International Biscuit Festival.
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