Winning Ways With Biscuits

Even if you're never going to grace the stage at the IBF Bake-Off, several small tweaks can enhance your biscuit experience. Here, celebrity biscuit experts and regular folks who happen to be biscuit fiends share their tips:

Bake with buttermilk. "Always use buttermilk," says Bake-Off co-director and IBF co-founder Gay Lyons. "I was baking biscuits before biscuits were cool, so we used the store-brand buttermilk, but now there's also local Cruz Farm buttermilk. I've used both, but never sweet milk."

Lighten up. In the Blackberry Farm Cookbook released to rave reviews in 2010, farm proprietor Sam Beall has this to say about gluten: "Active gluten creates a heavy biscuit which, while not an actual felony, could be cause for ridicule, shunning, or divorce. Low-gluten flour is the only choice for biscuits We use White Lily and...we further inhibit gluten development by keeping the flour and the coking fat cold until mixing time."

The sausage must be Wampler's. Lyons grew up in Loudon, "and everyone from Loudon eats Wampler's with their biscuits," she says. "And it's got to be the spicy."

Reheat regularly. If it's a good, homemade biscuit, it will still taste good the second day, says Nathalie Dupree, Charleston, S.C. cookbook author and IBF Bake-Off demonstrator and judge. Still, there are things you can do to improve the taste, including:

• Store and eat leftover biscuits at room temperature.

• If you wish to reheat a biscuit "and there's one just sitting there," split it in half and fry it in a little butter.

• "You can also wrap the leftover biscuit in plastic wrap and put it in the microwave for a few seconds and they are just fine," says Dupree. "But you have to be careful, and really measure how long it takes in your microwave to heat the biscuit without making it dry or hard."

• If you know you're going to have extra biscuits for a second day, underbake a portion. "You can finish baking them the next day in the oven or even a toaster oven."

Try a vegetarian sandwich—with a little heat. Crafter Jill Colquitt and her partner Brad Fisher are vegetarians but swear by biscuit sandwiches for filling fare. "A fried egg biscuit with feta, onion, tomato, and hot sauce, yum," she says. "Brad and I have decided that Tabasco is better for breakfast, and Texas Pete is better for lunch and dinner."

Cheese it. BaconFest founder and IBF planning volunteer Laura Sohn says, "Yeah, man!" to cheese biscuits, recommending an aged cheddar or Swiss. "You can put it inside before baking—shredded thin, like 1/8 of an inch, so it will melt, but not so thin it will disappear during baking," she says. "Or put a slice on top in the last five minutes of baking so it will bubble up. If you're making biscuits, put some cheese in the dough, and when it comes out of the oven split it in two and slip a thin slice of cheese in there to melt for a double cheese biscuit."