A tea biscuit dough should be soft but not sticky. A little kneading improves the quality of the biscuits, but should be done with a gentle touch as too much handling tends to make them tough.
Tea Biscuits, BASIC RECIPE
Preheat oven to 450F
Blend or sift together
2 cups Pre-Sifted PURITY All-Purpose Flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Cut in finely
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
Stir with a fork to make a soft dough.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 8 to 10 times. Roll or pat to desired thickness, (biscuits will be doubled in height when baked). Cut out with a floured cutter.
Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet, close together for soft-sided biscuits or about 1″ apart for crusty-sided biscuits.
Bake in preheated 450F oven for 12 to 15 minutes.
Yield: 18 to 20 – 1 3/4″ biscuits.
I too have gone on the quest for the best biscuit and discovered that the ingredients are similar in most recipes, but the prep is the key. I use butter rather than shortening. Key to the butter is to freeze it and shred it. Sounds weird, but it works. The kneading 8-10 times is also key. Even if there is a little flour that is not mixed in it will be fine. It's hard not to mix it more, but trust it. 8-10 times that is it. Try using plain yogurt instead of milk, it adds a little extra taste. Also make sure your baking powder hasn't been sitting in the cupboard for ages.
My three keys to really good biscuits are:
1.) Underkneading the dough.
- I will go as low as 6 to 8 times if the flour I'm using requires it.
2.) Frozen butterballs crushed.
- I keep a bag of butterballs in my freezer at 1tbsp a piece. They are easy for throwing into a pan or a recipe. For biscuits, I crush them down with a tenderizer into fines.
3.) Fresh baking powder.
- Buy a new container of baking powder if you have to, but don't use old crap.
I made some buttermilk biscuits a couple months ago that blew the socks of the old ladies parents. Some shredded Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese puts a nice little ringer into the biscuit when you have them with a pat of butter.