Position a rack in the centre of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450F. Have ready a large ungreased baking sheet.
Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2.5 teaspoons baking powder
- .5 to .75 teaspoons salt
- 6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (about 1tsp sized) *
Cut in the butter with 2 knives or a pastry blender, tossing the pieces with the flour mixture to coat and separate them as you work. For biscuits with crunchy edges and a flaky, layered structure, continue to cut in the butter until the largest pieces are the size of big peas. For classic fluffy biscuits, continue to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Do not allow the butter to melt or form a paste with the flour!
Add all at once:
- .75 cup milk (or 1 cup for drop biscuits)
Mix with a fork just uniti most of the dry ingredients are moistened. With a lightly floured hand, gather the dough into a ball and knead it gently against the sides and bottom of the bowl 5 to 10 times, turning and pressing any loose pieces into the dough each time until they adhere and the bowl is fairly clean.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. With a lightly floured rolling pin or your fingers, roll out or pat the dough .5″ thick. Cut out 1.75″ or 2″ rounds with a drinking glass or biscuit/cookie cutter dipped in flour (a sharp edge is better as it allows the biscuit to rise better in the oven). Push the cutter straight down into the dough and pull it out without twisting for biscuits that will rise evenly. You can reroll the scraps and cut additional biscuits (they are never as tender as the first cut).
For browner tops you can brush with melted butter.
Place the biscuits on the baking sheet at least 1″ apart for biscuits with crusty sides, or close together for biscuits that are joined and remain soft on the sides. Bake until the biscuits are golden brown on the top and a deeper golden brown on the bottom, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve hot.
* I like to add about .75 cup grated sharp cheddar when I cut in the butter, and then add some to the bottom of the biscuits just before baking.