Tips For Perfectly Cutting Biscuits

Maybe you just watched the biscuits episode of The Great British Bake Off and you're feeling inspired, or maybe you just finished an absolutely amazing plate of biscuits and gravy and are ready for round two. Either way, biscuits are an accessible pastry for beginner bakers with all the hands-on fun you want (and none of the expensive ingredients you don't). 

However, you might be surprised to learn that what counts as a biscuit varies dramatically based on where you live. To clarify, we're talking about American biscuits here: a fluffy bread made from butter, flour, salt, yeast, and cream. When a baker from England (or pretty much any other non-American English speaker) uses the word "biscuit," they're talking about what Americans refer to as cookies or crackers, per Vox.

So, if your prerogative today is beautifully flaky American biscuits, we have some techniques to help you get that perfect cut.

Use a biscuit cutter

For perfectly round, consistent shapes, try using a biscuit cutter. A biscuit cutter is a round kitchen tool with a circular blade, which can have either straight or fluted edges. It's specifically designed for slicing the ideal biscuit shape from rolled-out dough, similar to a cookie-cutter. To use a biscuit cutter, simply press the circular blade down into your dough and pull out the cut circle. For a clean cut, says Great British Chefs, be sure to dip your biscuit cutter in flour before pressing it into the dough; that way, it won't stick or tear.

And, most importantly, be sure not to twist! Twisting also can compress the dough, which stops the layers in your biscuits from separating as they bake, or causes them to rise unevenly. It's a surefire way to end up with a dense, flat batch, according to Cook's Info. Luckily, there's an easy fix: if your biscuit cutter is sharp enough, twisting won't be necessary.

Try a knife or a bench scraper

Sometimes, you really can't beat the classics. Knives are the tried and true tool in the home cook's arsenal for cutting, and biscuits are no exception. Quaker Oats recommends rolling out your biscuit dough on a floured surface to about ½-inch thick. Then, just trace out your biscuit shapes with a knife and transfer them to a baking sheet. If you prefer biscuits with a crispy outside, it suggests arranging 1 inch apart; softer biscuits should nearly touch each other on the baking sheet. For cutting biscuits with a knife, a smaller tool like a paring knife is ideal. Paring knives are ideal for finer, more nimble tasks like detail work, says Cook's Illustrated.

If you're not married to a circular biscuit Land O Lakes also recommends using a bench scraper. A bench scraper is a kitchen tool with a handle and a rectangular blade. Plus, the non-slip handle makes bench cutters a great kid-friendly tool to join in the baking. Plus, there are added benefits to square biscuits. According to Food Network, circular biscuits leave a lot of excess trimmings behind in between the circles, and the dough has to be re-rolled and re-cut multiple times to minimize waste; but overworked dough makes for tough, floury, uneven biscuits, says Southern Living. Cutting your biscuits into squares eliminates re-rolling, and also maximizes the number of biscuits you can get out of your dough.

Grab a drinking glass

Some of the best kitchen tools are also the most unlikely — and, conveniently, they're probably in your cupboard already. A plain old drinking glass can be your biscuits' best friend. 

To do it, roll out your dough into an even thickness, and simply press the rim of the drinking glass into the dough. FoodsGuy suggests lightly flouring the rim before pressing, to prevent the dough from getting stuck inside the drinking glass. The glass will create perfect circular cutouts, but they'll be a bit tougher to separate. The dullness of the rim probably won't cut all the way through the dough, according to King Arthur Baking, which makes for a jagged finish along your biscuit's edges if you try to tear them free by hand and can affect the rise of the biscuit. For a cleaner cut, make a rough cutout with your glass then try tracing the circles in your dough with a sharp knife.