Caroline Hargraves, sourdough queen and biscuit whiz for The Daily and its sibling restaurants, says it’s all in the hands. Meaning, no rolling pins. “The recipe is simple,” she says. “Just all-purpose flour, butter, sugar, salt and baking powder and buttermilk.” She cuts butter into slices, not cubes because “it’s easier on the hands,” and she is not too picky about the temperature of the butter. “Some recipes call for you to freeze the butter so it will be as cold as possible. But I find it works as well room temperature as cold—it depends on how you handle it.”
Hargraves has always loved baking—she remembers making box brownies at the age of 5—but has had no formal training, which should be inspirational for at-home bakers. “I’d been working as a photographer, doing food shots for the Coppers (Ryan Lowder’s restaurants—Copper Onion and Copper Kitchen), and Ryan let me work in the kitchen because I wanted to bake. I played around with recipes, watched a lot of online baking, and Instagrammed a lot of bakers when I had questions,” she explains.
Hargraves says the first step is understanding what kind of biscuit you like—soft, crisp, layered. She works the butter into the dry ingredients until it’s in large flakes and adds liquid just until the dough clumps. Her secret: “Pat the dough down with your hands, cut it in half and then stack the layers. Repeat that several times, then cut the dough into squares and cut the squares into rounds. Brush with melted butter and bake at 500 degrees.
Her final words of advice: “Don’t ever knead biscuits, it makes them tough. Just pat it out. You can feel the dough tightening if you go too far. Your hands will let you know.”