Five ingredients: flour, butter, salt, leavening, milk. Should be simple, yes? Yes, it should. It’s so simple that most recipes give you next to no instructions, assuming that nobody could ever be that daft as to not be able to execute anything as simple as a drop biscuit. They’re certain you’re not looking at the recipe utterly confused at what’s before you. Go grab a biscuit recipe, any recipe, and we’ll get through this together. I promise. The key to this recipe is that your butter needs to be cold. The closer it is to rock solid means that it will take longer to melt in the oven, and during that time it will be holding up all that wet dough while it sets. Think of it like framing a house, and with the butter being your supports.
Once that floury frame is firmly in place, the butter melts, the biscuit house sucks it into its walls, boom. Buttery sexy biscuit. If the butter is too warm it will melt before that frame sets up and thhhhbbbbbbbttttttt into a flat, greasy, depressing mess. The temperature of your butter is 99 percent of the challenge here, SO MAKE SURE IT’S FREAKING COLD, OKAY?!?!
Whip out the food processor:
Easiest way to make drop biscuits: food processor. Do not just throw a huge chunk of butter in with the flour and expect things to work out fine. It won’t break down, and will just twirl and twirl until you’re forced to stop it and try pulling the butter off the blade with your bare hands. That is dumb, and you could get blood into your drop biscuits. No one likes blood in their biscuits unless they specifically ask for it.
Use a knife to slice the butter into very thin pieces, toss with the flour in a bowl, and stick it into the freezer for five minutes.
Throw the butter, flour, and everything else into the food processor and pulse until it looks like dough.
Now you have biscuit dough. Congrats!
No food processor, no problem:
Freeze the butter rock solid.
Put the flour, salt and leavening in a large bowl, and use a bit of additional flour to lightly dust a cheese grater. Now grate your frozen butter into the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon to make sure all those little butter pieces are well coated.
Drizzle in the milk while stirring. Once it looks like dough, stir for another thirty seconds to help develop gluten (that’s another lesson for another day). Aaaannnndddddd done.
Bake 'em up:
Don’t fret too much not owning an ice cream scoop to make uniform balls, or futzing with tablespoons attempting “walnut sized drops.” Make them whatever size you want. What’s important here is that you know that the size determines the cooking time, so you have to watch these suckers and take them out when they’re done.
What does “when they’re done” mean? Does it look like a nice, golden biscuit you’d like to eat? It’s done. It’s actually that simple.
You should bake biscuits at 400°F, a higher temperature than most baked goods. Why? Because you want that flour frame to set as quickly as possible before the butter melts. Keep that oven door closed for at least 10 minutes so you don’t drop the temp and ruin everything. There’s nothing to see before then. Go watch some TV or something and calm your ass down.