Accordion Biscuits

published Sep 28, 2021
Accordion Biscuits Recipe

These biscuits, from Vallery Lomas' new cookbook Life Is What You Bake It, are stunningly tall and flaky.

Makes12 (2 1/2-inch) biscuits

Prep30 minutes to 35 minutes

Cook22 minutes to 24 minutes

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three biscuits stacked on top of each other
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

​​Biscuit-making is in my blood. It’s my inheritance — a birthright. But whether or not your lineage includes biscuit makers, I assure you that, you, too, can learn to make them. That’s because the magic that goes into biscuit-making actually isn’t magic at all — it’s practice!

Here, I’m sharing my go-to biscuit recipe. They’re stunningly tall and flaky, thanks to a few smart techniques. A mix of heavy cream and cream cheese also makes them extra rich and crumbly. They’re sweet, but not overly so, meaning they can play with savory flavors, too. Read on for my tips for biscuit success, then get practicing!

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Is Butter or Shortening Best for Biscuits?

This recipe uses all butter. Some biscuit recipes use vegetable shortening (or a combination of shortening and butter) because shortening has a higher melting point, which means it stays solid longer and thus is easier to work with. But butter is tastier and lends a better mouthfeel in a finished biscuit.

Your butter will stay solid as long as you keep it cold and work quickly so your body heat doesn’t warm it too much! (Butter can soften from too much handling.) Plus, by working quickly, you won’t over-handle the dough. Over-handling can lead to a tough biscuit, while a light touch ensures a tender final bake. 

3 Steps for Achieving Flaky Layers

  1. Swap the kneading for patting and stacking. By gathering and patting the dough into a firm block, then cutting it in half and stacking before repeating, you create layers. This is a similar method (although rudimentary) to what’s done with folding dough in laminated doughs, like croissant dough or puff pastry. This process of flattening and stacking the dough creates layers that rise in the oven like a stretched-out accordion.
  2. Press straight down when cutting. Be sure to press your biscuit cutter straight down without twisting side to side. If you twist your cutter, you will actually seal those biscuit layers closed, negating the work you did with patting and stacking. A straight cut won’t seal the layers!
  3. Bake in a preheated oven. Be sure your biscuits go in a sufficiently heated oven. You need that blast of hot air to create steam, causing the biscuit layers to pop open, rather than causing a sad puddle of melted butter at the bottom of the now puck-like biscuit.

Buy the book! Life is What You Bake It by Vallery Lomas

Accordion Biscuits Recipe

These biscuits, from Vallery Lomas' new cookbook Life Is What You Bake It, are stunningly tall and flaky.

Prep time 30 minutes to 35 minutes

Cook time 22 minutes to 24 minutes

Makes 12 (2 1/2-inch) biscuits

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces

    full-fat cream cheese, or 1/2 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt

  • 4 cups

    all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping

  • 1/4 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    baking powder

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 2 sticks

    (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter

  • 2

    large eggs, divided

  • 1 1/3 cups

    cold heavy cream

  • Demerara or granulated sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions

  1. If using cream cheese, let 4 ounces sit at room temperature until softened.

  2. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

  3. Place 4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons baking powder, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

  4. Cut 2 sticks cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Sprinkle over the flour mixture and toss with your fingers to coat each piece with the flour mixture (this will prevent the butter from clumping together). Use your fingertips to smash each piece of butter flat. If any flattened bits are larger than a quarter, break them up, continuing to coat each butter piece with the flour mixture until large pebbles of butter form. Freeze for 5 minutes.

  5. Whisk 1 of the large eggs in a medium bowl. Add the cream cheese or 1/2 cup Greek yogurt and 1 1/3 cups cold heavy cream, and whisk to combine (if using cream cheese, it will not be smooth).

  6. Remove the flour mixture from the freezer and pour the egg mixture over it. Use a large silicone spatula to fold the mixture until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Tip the shaggy dough out of the bowl and onto a floured surface (it’s okay if there are some dry bits of flour that aren’t yet incorporated).

  7. Using floured hands, pat the mixture into an 8 by 6-inch rectangle with a longer side closer to you. Cut the block in half crosswise, then stack one half on top of the other half. Repeat patting, cutting, and stacking two more times.

  8. Pat the dough down one last time until 1-inch thick (shape doesn’t matter here). Using a 2 1/2-inch round cutter, cut rounds out, pressing straight down into the dough without twisting. Transfer the rounds to one of the baking sheets, leaving 2 inches of space between each round of dough. Lightly knead the scraps and repeat to stamp out 12 biscuits total.

  9. Place the baking sheet with the biscuits in the freezer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1 large egg in a small bowl. Remove the biscuits from the freezer and move half of the biscuits to the second baking sheet. Arrange all the biscuits evenly apart. Brush the tops with the beaten egg. You want the biscuits to be as cold as possible when going in the oven, so work quickly. Sprinkle with demerara sugar, if using.

  10. Bake until the biscuits have puffed up and are browned on top, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, 22 to 24 minutes total. Place the baking sheets on a wire rack and let cool slightly before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The biscuits can be cut out, frozen until solid, and stored in a freezer bag for up to 2 months. Bake from frozen, brushing with the egg and sprinkling with sugar right before baking, and bake for 25 to 28 minutes.

Storage: The biscuits are excellent warm, but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, once cooled. The baked biscuits may also be frozen for up to 2 months.

Adapted with permission from Life is What You Bake It. Copyright © 2021 by Vallery Lomas. Photographs copyright © 2021 by Linda Xiao. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.