A step-by-step tutorial for tender and easy 100% whole wheat flaky homemade biscuits - the kind with layers. You won't believe these are whole wheat! If you love these biscuits, you'll love our other Best Bread Recipes.
I love these 100% whole wheat flaky homemade biscuits. Really. But you might not guess that by looking at our family menus because whenever I serve them to my family (especially Brian) they always make a comments like, "they're fine...they're just not a real, yeast bread, you know?"
Silly family. These homemade biscuits truly are tender and amazing. I love them and since they're SUPER easy (like fresh from the oven in 20 minutes!), they'll keep making appearances at our meals. And with sausage gravy over them? My favorite "guilty pleasure" breakfast. Ever.
If you've never made biscuits before, they truly are quick and easy - but there are a few tricks to getting those flaky layers. Which of course you know I'm going to share because I want everyone to know you can have warm 100% whole wheat flaky homemade biscuits in just a few minutes whenever you want.
So let's have a short tutorial so you can see the easy steps and my tips & tricks.
How to Make Whole Wheat Flaky Homemade Biscuits
1. Start in a food processor -it's a lot easier to cut the butter into the dry ingredients than by hand (but of course, you can- use a pastry cutter in a medium bowl). The machine takes less than a minute.
2. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse until the the butter is incorporated, resembling coarse cornmeal but with a few larger pieces of butter (that's what we want for the flakiness we're after).
See the larger butter pieces in the top photo? That's good.
3. Transfer the flour mixture into a medium bowl. I know, I know...one more thing to wash, but that's the trade-off we have to make so that we don't end up with tough biscuits. (Learn from my mistake: I use to do it all in the processor so I didn't dirty another bowl, but the biscuits weren't very tender and flaky. And that's how I learned what pastry chefs mean when they say not to "overwork the dough.")
4. Mix the buttermilk and egg together in a glass measuring cup and add it all at once to the dry ingredients. Mix just until most of the flour is incorporated. There should still be dry bits. This is important- I always used to mix until it looked like regular dough, but that was "overworking" the dough I came to find out (they always just throw these terms around like you automatically know what they mean...) and my biscuits were not tender or flaky.
Here's a picture to help you avoid the same mistake - see the loose flour still on the board when I turned it out of the bowl? Yeah, that's good. There will be dry looking places still, but we're going to knead it a bit to shape and finish the dough at the same time.
5. Flour your hands well and start gently bringing all the pieces together into a sort of ball shape, then continue kneading a couple more times, adding more flour as the pieces of butter stick to the board, until it holds together. If you have a bench scraper, this is a good time to put it to use.
After kneading about 10 times (times, not minutes) it should look like this in the photo above. Remember, just a light hand, it's not like kneading a yeast dough.
6. Now fold it on itself 3 to 4 times to help create some of those great layers.
7. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin (or your hands) into a rectangular shape that's about 1-inch to 1-1/4 inches thick and cut with a biscuit cutter or use a knife and cut into squares (I'm cutting both circles and squares here). There's no law that says biscuits have to be circles and I actually like squares better if I'm going to be using them for sandwiches or breakfast sandwiches.
Note: I should mention that when all the sides are cut (like when using a biscuit cutter) the dough is able to rise better, so you'll get higher biscuits than those cut with a knife that leave the outside edges uncut. However, a bonus of cutting it into squares is no re-rolling and no waste, so there you have it - the pros and cons of both.
8. Brush the tops with buttermilk (or milk) to create a nice brown, shiny top, though this is purely optional.
9. Bake until browned. Cool a little and serve warm - preferably with real butter.
Oh my. Look at those flaky layers. That's what we're talking about!
Amazing Whole Wheat Flaky Homemade Biscuits
- 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour*
- 1 teaspoon honey or sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup cold butter
- 1 egg
- 1 cup buttermilk**
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In the bowl of a food processor or regular bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients (if using honey, combine it with the liquid ingredients). Pulse (or mix) to combine.
- Cut up the butter into eight pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse (or use a pastry blender) until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few pea-sized pieces of butter remaining. If using a processor, transfer to a medium bowl.
- Combine the egg and buttermilk (and honey, if using) in a glass measure; add to the dry ingredients all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon just until mixture starts to come together (it will not be completely mixed). Don't over mix.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 10 - 15 times until dough holds together, folding a couple of times at the end like a letter. Pat or roll into a 1 to 1-1/4 inch rectangle. Cut with a biscuit cutter or knife into about a dozen biscuits depending on the size.
- Place on a lined or greased cookie sheet, and brush the tops with milk, if desired, for a shiny, browned top.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Other Easy Bread Recipes You May Like:
Yummy French Baguettes bread recipe, mixed in a food processor.
Easy Artisan Bread - perfect every time.
Amanda R. says
Very new to baking bread of any type, and your detailed directions and tips are super helpful. These actually turned out - first time! You could definitely tell that the fully cut biscuits rose higher than the edge pieces (I made squares). And to see actual layers in there, yeeesssssss. Great guide for a beginner, will be trying these again. Just gotta find the ww pastry flour again first!
Yay! So glad to read this - aren't they so good? 🙂
Claire Cottrell says
These turned out perfect the first time. I will my own flour so biscuits are always touch and go. These were great. Thanks for sharing!
Good to hear they worked well with freshly milled flour, Claire - thanks for the review!
While I can certainly make the buttermilk substitute (if I don't have a good buttermilk on hand :-)), I do happen to have some buttermilk powder. Could I use that in these biscuits, do you think? Really looking forward to making these!
I don't know why not, Beth - I'd reconstitute the powder to the measurement and then proceed with the recipe.
I’ll give it a try and let you know how it goes 🙃
Charlotte Moore says
These look so good. I just started back to WW and these calculate at 7 pts. each for anyone that needs that info.
Thanks for leaving that, Charlotte!
Ty for the detailed instructions on the previous page! Using this recipient and the instructions on the first page has finally allowed me to make biscuits properly that are light and flackery.
Wow, I'm so glad this was helpful Juliet! There's nothing quite like a flaky biscuit, is there? 🙂
Just a quick thank you for this incredible recipe.
I rescue Basset Hounds who are non-adoptable. They love toast in the morning but are prone to yeast infections.
My current boy, has epilepsy so I cook a ketogenic diet, meaning, the amount of butter in this recipe is valuable.
I omitted sugar and salt. Also replaced buttermilk with 1/2 C plain yoghurt & water to measure 1 C. Also replaced cream of tartar with 1 Tbp of lemon juice.
I used no additional flour and no kneading but proceeded to “bench scrape” folding in 1/2 approx 16X’s.
I finished with 3, 3rd folds, pressed to a 10 X 10 square and cut to 16 pieces.
Awesomely flaky, thank you Jak
I'm so glad you were able to adapt this recipe to work for your specific needs, Jak - and that your dogs enjoy them. 🙂
Love the recipe. Am curious... I mill my own grain into flour using the Grainmaker mill. Which grain and how fine should I mill the grain to end up with pastry flour like your recipe calls for? I have a few different wheat berries, spelt, barley, rye, and other grains. I often use soft white spring wheat in my milling.
I don't grind my own wheat, Steve, but I know that pastry flour is the lower-protein soft white wheat, in addition to a finer grain. I found this for you on a forum from someone who had a Grainmaker, too: "[I use] soft white wheat berries, tempered to 14% moisture (that I measure with an agraTronix MT-Pro) for 12 hours, which are then milled quite fine (3rd setting on my mill) and then sifted through #70 mesh. The flour it produces is exceptionally fine, silky smooth, and quite white -- visually almost indistinguishable from bagged pastry flour."
Hope that helps!
Thank you so much. This does help me, very much.
These are great! I used Keifer in place of buttermilk. One critique: these def need more salt!!
Keifer sounds like a wonderful addition, Bobbi.
those ARE gorgeous biscuits! have you made them with fresh milled flour? i know the ratio of liquid to dry ingredients differs with fresh milled. also.....how thick do you pat out the dough before cutting? my biscuits NEVER get that tall!! surely something to be proud of 🙂
Thank you! I haven't used milled flour, Cindi - hopefully there are online calculators for that? I do leave them pretty thick 1-1/2 inches. And using a sharp knife or biscuit cutter on all the sides helps them rise, too. Hope this works for you!
Sara Unruh says
Been looking for a whole wheat biscuit that won't go flat! Sign me up to receive more of this good stuff! Sara, from the fields of the Midwest!
Wonderful, Sara - so glad to have you join our little community here. 🙂
I don't normally bake. (always considered it a bit too girly) But I was craving some biscuits that would fit into my healthy lifestyle. I came across these, and they are great!
I used coconut oil in place of the butter, and used a little more than the recipe calls for. (2/3 C) Also, I did not have pastry flour, so I cut each cup of flour with 2T of cornstarch.
These are some of the lightest, flakiest biscuits I have ever had. They also have that nice hearty wheat flavor.
Thank you for posting it, Jami!
So glad you liked them and found it easy to use and adapt, David. Thanks for letting me know!
Zoe Anastasia says
Just did my own rendition of theese. I used crisco instead of butter and soy milk. Im 17 and made theese for my parents anneverssary. Cant wait to eat. And the smell of the house smells like heaven. Yum!!
Good for you for baking from scratch, Zoe!! I hope you will continue - I know so many friends of my kids who don't know how easy and good - not to mention so much better tasting - it is to cook with real ingredients. Here's to your cooking future- 🙂
I will be making these tomorrow! We live in the Willamette Valley as well (Salem) and are fortunate enough to have a raw milk supplier from which I use the cream to make homemade butter and buttermilk. I have a cup of it sitting in the fridge waiting for a good recipe...which now I've found!
Oh, lucky you, Ally! Enjoy 🙂
Delicious! Thank you for posting this recipe! Just one little heads up, it asks for 1 cup of buttermilk but the recommendation for the substitute ends up being 1 cup and 1 tbsp. That made my dough too soft the first time and I just added more flour and still came out good but affected the consistency. Today I made it again and did 1 tbsp first into the measuring cup and then added almond milk until it made a total of 1 cup. These came out perfect!
I made some changes because of intolerances:
Used almond milk instead of reg milk
Used earth balance butter instead of regular butter
Didn't use cream of tarter bc I didn't have any and just added 1/2 tsp more of baking powder.
* with these changes they still came out amazing! My husband and I loved them!
Good point, Ruth, thank you. I think I assumed that people would know that it would still need to equal 1 c. total, which I should never do. I'll update the recipe. 🙂 Glad to know your changes worked for those who have dairy issues - thanks for sharing that!