Amazing Whole Wheat Flaky Biscuits

Amazing WW Flaky Biscuits - An Oregon Cottage

I love these whole wheat, tender, and flaky biscuits. Really. But you’d never know that looking at our menus because when I serve them my family, especially Brian, always manages to make a comment like, “they’re fine…they’re just not a real, yeast bread, you know?” Arrggg- silly family. These truly are amazing, I love them, and since they’re SUPER easy, they’ll keep making appearances every now and then. And with sausage gravy over them? My favorite “guilty pleasure” breakfast. Ever.

If you’ve never made biscuits before, they are quick and easy, but there are a few tricks to getting those flaky layers.

Here are the steps I take to make Amazing Whole Wheat Flaky Biscuits:

Flaky WW Biscuit Ingredients in Processor - An Oregon Cottage

1. Start in a food processor -it’s a lot easier to cut the butter into the dry ingredients than by hand (but of course, you can- use a pastry cutter in a medium bowl). The machine takes less than a minute.

2. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse until the the butter is incorporated, resembling coarse cornmeal but with a few larger pieces of butter (that’s what we want for the flakiness we’re after).

WW Flaky Biscuits - Mixing wet into dry ingredients - An Oregon Cottage

See the larger butter pieces in the top photo? That’s good.

3. Transfer the flour mixture into a medium bowl. I know, I know…one more thing to wash, but that’s the trade-off we have to make so that we don’t end up with tough biscuits. Learn from my mistakes: I use to do it all in the processor, so I didn’t dirty another bowl, but the biscuits weren’t very tender and flaky. And I learned that’s what pastry chefs mean when they say not to “overwork the dough.”

4. Mix together a cup of buttermilk and an egg in a glass measuring cup and add it all at once to the dry ingredients. Mix just until most of the flour is incorporated. There should still be dry bits. This is important- I always used to mix until it looked like regular dough, but that was “overworking” the dough I came to find out (they always just throw these terms around like you automatically know what they mean…) and my biscuits were not tender or flaky.

Amazing WW Flaky Biscuit Dough - An Oregon Cottage

Here’s a picture to help you avoid the same mistake – see the loose flour still on the board when I turned it out of the bowl? Yeah, that’s good. There will be dry looking places still, but we’re going to knead it a bit to shape and finish the dough at the same time.

WW Biscuit Kneaded Dough - An Oregon Cottage

5. Flour your hands well and start gently bringing all the pieces together into a sort of ball shape, then continue kneading a couple more times, adding more flour as the pieces of butter stick to the board, until it holds together. If you have a bench scraper, this is a good time to put it to use. After kneading about 10 times (times, not minutes) it should look like this in the photo above. Remember, just a light hand, it’s not like kneading a yeast dough.

Folding WW Biscuit Dough- An Oregon Cottage

6. Now fold it on itself 3 to 4 times to help create some of those great layers.

Cutting WW Biscuit Dough_An Oregon Cottage

7. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin (or your hands) into a rectangular shape that’s about 1-inch to 1-1/4 inches thick and cut with a biscuit cutter or use a knife and cut into squares (I’m cutting both circles and squares here). There’s no law that says biscuits have to be circles and I actually like squares better if I’m going to be using them for sandwiches or breakfast sandwiches.

Note: I should mention that when all the sides are cut (like when using a biscuit cutter) the dough is able to rise better, so you’ll get higher biscuits than those cut with a knife that leave the outside edges uncut. However, a bonus of cutting it into squares is no re-rolling and no waste, so there you have it – the pros and cons of both.

Brushing WW Biscuits_An Oregon Cottage

8. Brush the tops with buttermilk (or milk) to create a nice brown, shiny top, though this is purely optional. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the pan if needed, until evenly browned. Cool a little on a wire rack and serve warm.

Whole Wheat Flaky Biscuits - An Oregon Cottage

Oh my. Look at those flaky layers. That’s what we’re talking about!

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Amazing Whole Wheat Flaky Biscuits

  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose)
  • 1 tsp. honey or sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. buttermilk (add 1 Tb. vinegar to 1 c. milk unless you have access to true buttermilk- what they sell in the stores as buttermilk is full of additives)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor or regular bowl, combine the first six ingredients (if using honey, combine it with the liquid ingredients). Pulse (or mix) to combine.
  3. Cut up the butter into eight pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse (or use a pastry blender) until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few pea-sized pieces of butter remaining. If using a processor, transfer to a medium bowl.
  4. Combine the egg and buttermilk (and honey, if using) in a glass measure; add to the dry ingredients all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon just until mixture starts to come together (it will not be completely mixed). Don’t over mix.
  5. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 10 – 15 times until dough holds together, folding a couple of times at the end like a letter. Pat or roll into a 1 to 1-1/4 inch rectangle. Cut with a biscuit cutter or knife into about a dozen biscuits depending on the size.
  6. Place on a lined or greased cookie sheet, and brush the tops with milk, if desired, for a shiny, browned top.
  7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 1 dozen

 

Adapted from a post I originally published in July 2010.

This is linked to PennywisePlatter, Homemaking Hints, and Saturday Nite Special.

Comments

  1. Yum! I’m pinning these! :)

  2. If you cut them round, can you gently pat the dough back together and cut into more biscuits?

  3. awesome! I am so making these!!

  4. These look amazing! Trying to figure out if the substitutes would work for my dairy allergic dd. I am thinking that fake margarine and rice milk won’t make them near as tasty as the ones you made.

    • Anonymous says:

      Try substituting lard for the butter. Yes I mean lard, that’s what Granny used all those decades ago.

  5. Would you be able to freeze these for baking later? I’m preparing for baby and want some biscuits on hand! :)

    • Congratulations, Caroline! I haven’t personally tried it, but I know of many others who freeze biscuits to bake later all the time, so they should work fine. I don’t know why, but I tend to bake them all and freeze them after – I know they do this well, but then again, no fresh-from-the-oven biscuit, either. :-)

  6. I have never been completely happy with my whole wheat biscuit recipe. I have loved so many of your recipes – that I’m printing this off now!
    Gina

  7. Jami, I tried to click on a link in Pinterest to get here for your yummy looking biscuits but for whatever reason Pinterest has blocked that page. I’m glad I persevered and googled your site. You have amazing recipes here and I’ve just spent the last hour browsing, copying and pinning. Thank you for your site. I just wanted to let you know about the Pinterest thing in case you didn’t know.

    • Thanks so much for continuing your search and finding your way here, Maureen! It’s so nice to know you’re enjoying looking around. :-)

      Yes, the Pinterest thing can be frustrating. If a picture is pinned from Google Images, for example, it won’t be linked to my site. I try to make sure to pin things from the original site and to make sure the pin is from the original site before I repin. Sometimes a pain, but I want to be able to get to the recipe, idea, or whatever and also to give credit where due. ;-)

      Appreciate your taking the time to comment and let me know!

  8. If I don’t have cream of tartar, will the end result be very different and are there any substitutes for it? Thanks

    • Hmm, I haven’t tried it, Jen, but I think it does make a difference – that’s why other recipes I’ve tried without it aren’t the same, I’d guess. I don’t know off-hand if they’re are substitutes, though you could google to find out. :)

  9. Sue suddenly says:

    Mine came out bitter and tough. Is that the flour? & inexperience?

  10. Incredible. Just made them – eating them now. I decided to eat the “remnant” biscuits first to save the cut, fluffy ones for husband. These biscuits are so delicious and easy! I used the milk with vinegar option since I didn’t have any buttermilk and my experience with vinegar in pastries and doughs is flaky soft. Having them with my whole wheat sausage gravy for dinner :). Thanks so much for posting this recipe.

    • Yeah! So glad to hear this, Angie – they are one of my favorites that I don’t make that much because the rest of my family only likes yeast breads. :(

  11. Just made these using half spelt & half kamut flour. I used plain kefir (lifeway brand) in place of the buttermilk. They turned out wonderfully. Kefir is lactose-free.

  12. They also don’t have the baking soda aftertaste that old-fashioned biscuits have.

  13. I just made these with my dad (I’m 7), and they’re sooooo good. :)

  14. why did you use baking powder and add cream of tartar? Baking powder contains cream of tartar and is usually used with baking soda to help with activation when no acid is used (like buttermilk) as you should know?

  15. Your instructions for making flaky whole wheat biscuits are excellent. These did, indeed, rise very well and were very tender, However, their taste is quite awful. Perhaps this is why your husband objects to them.

    I’m someone who generally enjoys whole wheat in anything; being an experienced baker, I was careful that all ingredients, including King Arthur whole wheat pastry flour, were fresh and measured accurately. My best guess is that the flavor was altered by the inclusion of cream of tartar–something I’ve never before seen in a biscuit recipe. I’ll try these again using baking soda rather then cream of tartar to see if the taste is improved by that substitution.

    Again, thank you for posting great pictures and instructions.

    • I’m so sorry you didn’t have a good experience with the flavor, Claire. That is definitely not our family’s experience – or anyone I’ve served these to over the many years I’ve made them. My husband doesn’t like any type of baking soda/powder bread, he just prefers yeast breads – it has nothing to do with the flavor of these in particular. If you are sensitive to cream of tartar, then I hope you do like the substitution better!

  16. Sue Mosier says:

    Would you please tell me how you know when the biscuits are finished cooking? Do you ever use an internal temperature? Thank you, I want to try theses tomorrow.

  17. What a delightful website, full of great recipes! We search the world for the best recipes that are additive free, natural, clean, and homemade. This site is really something.

    I just tried the biscuit recipe… these are seriously the best biscuits I’ve ever had. The square cut idea was a nice change, worked great with the homemade pasta sauce we created.

    Would you mind if we showcase some of your recipes in our online community? We’re here in Canada, and have lots of Whole Food Enthusiasts who would like these recipes. We will link it all back to you.

    Have a great week!

    Richard

    • Thank you, Richard – I appreciate your kind words! I would be honored for you to share my recipes with other whole food enthusiasts, as long as it’s not the entire recipe, just a photo, description and link to my site – thank you for asking. I love finding other whole food recipes, so I’ll be sure to check your site out, too!

  18. These are just delicious! Mine didn’t rise a lot but were still tender and flaky. I didn’t have the pastry flour. So used 2 1/2 cups whole wheat and 1/2 cup white flour. I probably underworked them. Which, at this point, I find preferable. Thanks so much for the recipe.

    • Glad you liked them, Jude! I think the pastry flour might make them rise more, regular ww is just a bit heavier. But if you liked them as is, that’s what matters. :)

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