Baking is Focus | Easy Drop Biscuit Recipe
Updated: Mar 11
Elevate Your Baking Skills
Baking is Focus
So many times I hear, “I could never be a baker, it’s too exacting!” And there is truth to that. Countless books have been written about the precise standards required to consistently execute bakes (here’s my current favorite). Equally countless are the times I enjoyed baking with my Grandmother, a woman known to never use a scale. Sometimes, not even a measuring cup. “How much flour for the biscuits?” I’d ask. “Until there’s enough for the butter”, she’d answer. “How long in the oven?” I’d question, “Until they’re done” came the reply. I marveled at her ability to make fluffy cakes, chewy cookies, and delicious drop biscuits, seemingly without effort, always a few grandkids underfoot. How did she do it? Focus. Whether she was baking or cooking, she always had time for a laugh, but never for a moment did her focus waiver from the task at hand.
Because she focused on what she was doing, and engaged her senses, she didn’t need a cup or a scale to tell her when something was right. She had made the same biscuit recipe so many times, and she knew by feel when it was correct:when the butter was blended correctly, when there was enough flour, when to stop adding buttermilk. She knew when baked goods were done by their smell and by their look. No toothpick cake testers for her, she pulled her cake from the oven according to how it sounded. Even when she was getting fancy with Mrs. Crocker’s cookbook, she would use the recipe and instructions only as a guide, and used her senses to tell her when something was right.
The lessons I learned from those afternoons baking with Grandma have stuck with me. Now whenever I bake, I use a hybrid method. I scale my ingredients, but pay attention to the dough or batter to see if it wants adjusting along the way. I set timers, but engage my senses and look, listen and smell for doneness. Every time I make something, I judge how that bake, in that moment, with that equipment, is doing. I look for indications that the batter has been mixed enough, that the bake is done or not done, rather than relying solely on instructions and equipment. This method is an acquired skill.I know when my chocolate chunk cookies are done by smell because I’ve made the same recipe for 25 years. Same for my biscuits. Or poundcake. I could go on and on with recipes I’ve made forever and know by my senses. What’s important, is that it is an ACQUIRED skill. As in, anyone can develop it. Even people who don’t bake because it’s too much of a science.
To develop your baking senses, start with something simple like my Easy Drop Biscuits. It’s a very forgiving recipe and even the not so great biscuits are really good! Make them once a week. Pay attention to what’s happening with the bake, rather than mindlessly following the recipe. Scale or don’t scale your ingredients. If you don’t scale, pay attention to how you measure them, and do it the same way every time. When baking, start by setting a timer, then focus on how the kitchen smells when they get close to done. Look at the color once they’ve baked. Repeat. Do that with some of your favorite recipes. Apply it to cooking as well as baking. You’ll be surprised how much you notice. Before you know it, you’ll be pulling cakes by sound, and biscuits by smell.
Easy Drop Biscuits
Preheat oven to 450
2 cups (240 grams) All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp (14 grams) Baking Powder
1 ¼ tsp Kosher Salt
½ cup (113 grams) COLD, Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces
¾ - 1 cup (175 - 240 ml) COLD Buttermilk
Grease 10 inch round skillet or cake pan, or 9 x 13 pan, with butter, set aside.
Cut butter into small pieces and return to the refrigerator to chill while gathering other ingredients.
Measure buttermilk and return to the refrigerator to chill.
Measure all dry ingredients into a medium bowl and stir to mix.
Remove butter from the refrigerator, and place in the bowl with dry ingredients, cut in with a fork, pastry cutter or (working quickly) with fingers until pea sized chunks of butter are achieved.
Remove buttermilk from the refrigerator, add ½ cup of buttermilk to dry ingredients, mix until there is a thick dough. If the batter is still dry, add milk one tablespoon at a time until an evenly moist, thick dough consistency is achieved.
Scoop dough with a 2 ½ ounce spring scoop or two spoons, into a mostly round shape, slightly larger than a golf ball.
Place biscuits into pan and bake 15 - 20 minutes, until golden brown on the tops and baked through the center.
Brush tops with additional melted butter if desired.
Happy baking - and remember to show me your first bite on social! @firstbitebakeshop