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Causes and Fixes for Tough, Heavy or Crumbly Biscuits

Updated on February 21, 2012

Biscuits are perfect quick breads for many dishes.

Biscuits alongside shrimp and grits. Photo courtesy PDphoto.org under a public domain license.
Biscuits alongside shrimp and grits. Photo courtesy PDphoto.org under a public domain license.

Causes and Fixes for Tough, Heavy or Crumbly Biscuits

Biscuits are a quick bread leavened with baking powder and generally have a fat such as shortening, lard or butter cut into the flour. Biscuits are supposed to be light, fluffy, moist and at times either rich, savory or sweet. If biscuits are tough and heavy, then a few things could be the problem. Here are some reasons why biscuits may be tough or heavy, and ways to fix them.

 

Reasons and Fixes for Heavy or Tough Biscuits

Not enough fat:

Biscuits need to have a good fat/flour ratio. Recipes that have too little fat will end up being very heavy.

 

Not enough leavening:

Without baking powder, or a baking soda/buttermilk combination, the biscuits will fail to rise. Check the expiration date on the canister to ensure a fresh leavening agent before making the biscuits.

 

Oven too cold:

If the oven is too cold when the biscuits are put inside, they will not have a chance to rise in the oven, and by the time the biscuits cook the dough will be tough or very heavy. Always preheat the oven before the biscuits are placed in the oven for baking.

 

Dough was over worked:

Biscuits are not like yeast breads where long kneading times are required. Once the liquid is added, knead the dough just enough to make it into a ball and roll out. If scraps are being kneaded together, knead very lightly to mix the dough without overworking.

 

Not enough liquid:

Some biscuit recipes call for a range of liquid amounts (such as 2/3 to 3/4 cup milk). In this instance, begin with the smaller amount and add in more when needed. But don’t add in the liquid after the dough has already been made into a ball – add it after stirring a couple of strokes and if the flour looks like it won’t come be incorporated with the amount inside. Generally, if the recipe has been tested then the first amount will be for dryer biscuits and the second amount will be for moister biscuits. 

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