Storing flour cut with butter
November 21, 2017 7:22 AM   Subscribe

For biscuits, can I do the "cut flour into butter" step once, for multiple recipes, and store it until needed? How (refrigerator/freezer)? For how long?

I've been experimenting with recipes for one biscuit, as a means of portion control — I live alone, and if I make a batch of eight biscuits, I will eat eight biscuits. That day.

I've gotten some good results, but it's a bit of effort for one biscuit. The recipes typically begin with cutting cold butter into flour (and other dry ingredients) — and for one biscuit, a typical amount might be 1/2 tbsp. butter and 1/4 c. flour. This is too small a volume to effectively do in a full-size food processor, and takes a good bit of effort (OK, not huge, but quite a bit considering it's only one biscuit) to do it by hand with a fork or pastry cutter. If I had a mini food processor, that would work, but I don't.

So, I'm wondering if I can make a larger batch of the crumbly flour butter mixture, then just store that and portion it out as needed for one biscuit at a time. If so, how should it be stored — refrigerator, freezer? And how long can it be kept?
posted by DevilsAdvocate to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: A recipe is probably obligatory here, like cat pictures on "name my cat" questions, so here's what I've developed so far:

Mix 1/4 c. flour, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/8 tsp. salt. Cut in 1/2 tbsp. cold butter. (Optional additions: finely grated cheese, sage, dill, garlic powder, ...) Mix in enough milk (typically 2-3 tbsp.) to make a biscuit dough consistency; it should come together and be a bit sticky. If you overdo the milk, add in more flour. Place in a ramekin prepared with cooking spray, and bake 25-30 min. at 400°, until top is lightly browned.

I'm sure you can do it as a drop biscuit on a baking sheet without using the ramekin, but I haven't tried it that way yet so I don't have a time/temperature for that.

This is actually evolved from some "microwave biscuits for one" recipes I found online, but trust me, the texture of the microwaved version is not satisfying. It's worth waiting for the time it takes to bake in a conventional oven.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:23 AM on November 21, 2017

What if you make enough dough for 8 biscuits, cut them out, and then freeze 7 of them on a cookie sheet, and once they're frozen transfer them to a freezer bag? That way you can bake 1 at a time in the oven, and you still don't have biscuits on hand, just frozen, biscuit-shaped lumps of dough.
posted by coppermoss at 7:25 AM on November 21, 2017 [21 favorites]

Anecdata, but my mom made big batches of biscuit mix just like your recipe. She just kept it in a large tupperware in the cupboard. I guess the theory is that you don't really have to refrigerate butter short-term, so it's shelf stable in an airtight container for at least a couple weeks before you add the milk.
posted by CheeseLouise at 7:45 AM on November 21, 2017 [5 favorites]

Along the lines of coppermouth's suggestion, Budget Bytes has a freezer biscuit recipe that works pretty well.
posted by LionIndex at 7:48 AM on November 21, 2017

I think this would last basically indefinitely in the freezer. The only minor thing I would be worried about would be the baking powder getting activated and chemically used-up in the freezer. But certainly you could give it a go - it's not *dangerous*, just you might waste some ingredients. (If this does turn out to be a problem you could probably fix it by messing around with different baking powders and leaveners.

I used to do something related, where I would make up a big batch of crumble topping (like for apple crisp) and then use it to cook myself up a small apple or whatever fruit crisp in a ramekin. It worked great until I realized that frozen crumble topping is DELICIOUS and I started eating it plain straight from the freezer bag.
posted by mskyle at 7:58 AM on November 21, 2017 [8 favorites]

Freezer methods will work for sure. But for taste/flavor/texture reasons, I would go with CheeseLouise's room temp storage, and aim to make a weekly batch on Sunday after I finish the last of last week's biscuits. If you make a batch 8 at a time, you get one a day, and two on Sunday as a reward for being moderate and clever ;)

One issue with frozen biscuits is they will not only need to cook longer, but they will cook differently, unless you bring them up to room temp first, which would be a total pain. If room temp is a deal breaker for you, I'd prefer fridge to freezer.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:06 AM on November 21, 2017

I've kept pie crust mix, which was flour and lard, stored on the shelf for a year without problems. But I like coppermoss's idea of freezing unbaked biscuits better.
posted by summerstorm at 8:06 AM on November 21, 2017

My mom did the 'freeze the dough already shaped' thing for many years. Works fine!
posted by The otter lady at 8:08 AM on November 21, 2017

Cooks Illustrated came up with a method of making biscuits without needing to cut butter into the flour. Instead, melt the butter, let it cool for a few minutes, pour it into cold milk, mix until you get a slurry of solidified butter and milk, and mix it in with the dry ingredients (since I use buttermilk powder when making biscuits, I'm mixing the butter with cold water).

You could do the same thing with your own no-butter ready-made biscuit mix for a single biscuit.
posted by ShooBoo at 8:26 AM on November 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

Cook's Illustrated also solved this by skipping the butter and just using cream; see this recipe for an adaptation. Cooks uses a few Tbs more flour and half the sugar, though. I think this also depends on your climate - I'd leave butter out for a while in the Pacific Northwest in winter since it's so cool. I don't think I'd want to eat it after it'd been sitting out for weeks in SoCal or Hawaii, though.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 8:36 AM on November 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Google the recipe for Missouri Mix. It's like a home made Bisquick. My mother kept it on a Tupperware in the freezer.
posted by SLC Mom at 9:39 AM on November 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

This 2-ingredient biscuit recipe is great and very scalable since all you do is mix equal weights of heavy cream and self-rising flour!
posted by exceptinsects at 9:43 AM on November 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

I freeze the dry ingredients with butter cut in, using a similar recipe, and have had zero problems. I usually freeze roughly half the batch and cook the other half, but since liquid quantities are approximate anyway, no reason not to do it by single biscuit scoop. I've never had a problem with rising. I have definitely kept/forgotten this in the freezer for months and then used it successfully.
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:44 AM on November 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

yeah, what you want is basically home-made (or I guess actual) Bisquick.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 9:44 AM on November 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yes. If keeping it more than a week, I'd freeze it.
posted by theora55 at 10:42 AM on November 21, 2017

Freezing is always preferable to refrigeration for any flour/bread product. The temperature range for staling is basically refrigerator range.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:49 PM on November 21, 2017

Yes, agreeing with CheeseLouise, southern cooks have been keeping butter (or shortening) cut into flour in a canister in the pantry for generations. That was in fact the inspiration for Bisquick.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:16 PM on November 22, 2017

Also, if you make it with heavy cream, it is a scone, not a biscuit. That's fine, if that's what you want.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:16 PM on November 22, 2017

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