Biscuit Disaster Averted aka. 78: Alton Brown’s Phase III Biscuits

To go with all the leftover ham, I thought it might be nice to have biscuits for dinner (and leftovers for breakfast). I decided to make Alton Brown’s Phase III Biscuits from his book, I’m Just Here for More Food. This is supposed to be his best biscuit ever.

Alton Brown’s Phase III Biscuits

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup yogurt
1 egg

First, Alton says to freeze your half-stick of butter, grate it into your sifted-together dry ingredients, and rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers. This seems extremely picky, and annoying, but I decided to try it even though I love my pastry cutter. You then mix together the wet ingredients and dump them into the dry ingredients and combine.

AB recognizes that this will be a very wet, batter-like dough, so he says to lightly flour a long piece of parchment or wax paper, dump the dough/batter onto it, and make a tri-fold of it. You fold the sides in toward the middle, using the paper to protect your hands, and repeat three time.

Then, it’s apparently time to cut the biscuits. I don’t have a round biscuit/cookie cutter, but I do have a small round glass that works pretty well when I’ve made biscuits before. It cut through, but there was no way I could lift these “biscuits” off of the parchment. They were very sticky and fell apart.

Let’s face it – there’s really no way you can cut and handle batter. Batter quite simply doesn’t hold shape – otherwise it wouldn’t be batter. I scraped the biscuit batter from the parchment as best as I could, and added a little more flour to it to make it easier to handle. As I patted it back out so I could try cutting biscuits again, it got stickier and stickier. I still wasn’t going to be able to cut it.

I decided the only way I could salvage this was to treat it like I usually make biscuits – fold it over itself time and again, adding enough flour that I’d be able to pat it out to about an inch or less thickness. I wanted to be able to cut biscuits and actually move them onto the baking sheet.

I baked the 15 of them at 450F for about 15 minutes.

alton brown's phase III biscuits
Phase III Biscuits, after lots more flour and handling

Some of them rose pretty high. You can tell how well I folded them from how they’re baking apart at the layers.

I don’t know how much extra flour I added, but I’d assume that I added at least a cup more based on how much emptier my flour canister is. These were a huge hassle. I think that if you wanted to make these according to Alton’s instructions, you’d need to heavily flour whatever paper you’re using for kneading, but I’m not convinced that it would make it worth making these biscuits. I didn’t like the smell of the butter in them (I usually make my biscuits with margarine). They were nothing special. It’s true I added a lot of extra flour, but I remain unconvinced that this recipe would turn out well. I was very frustrated that it didn’t turn out, but I’m not going to give it another chance.

4 thoughts on “Biscuit Disaster Averted aka. 78: Alton Brown’s Phase III Biscuits”

  1. I adapted one of Alton’s Biscuit recipes and posted the recipe on my blog. My steps are a little easier than his and they turned out super great if you ever want to try his style biscuits with butter again.

  2. I love using this recipe, I just skip the folding, rolling and cutting phase! I simply line a baking dish with parchment and pour the batter in, then bake halfway, precut the lines with a spatula, and bake the rest of the way – or make them into drop biscuts, and spoon out heaping piles on a cookie sheet – they work great as a base for my sausage gravy.

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