There are few things as appetizing as fresh cooked biscuits right out of the oven. Although biscuits are a simple and quick bread, their popularity around the dinner table means that having a home cooked meal without them seems lacking. However, what can you do if you want to host a Christmas breakfast and your oven is unexpectedly out of order? Or if you’re out camping and biscuits for breakfast sounds like just the thing? Is there any way to cook biscuits without an oven?
Actually, there are a few different ways to go about baking biscuits without a traditional oven to bake them in. The important thing that the oven provides when baking biscuits is high, even heat and plenty of air circulation. The high temperature is necessary to create steam within the biscuits, making them light and fluffy, and the air circulation keeps the biscuits from getting soggy. As long as you can provide the high, even temperature and the air circulation, you can use other methods than oven baking to produce exceptional biscuits. Dutch ovens, cast iron skillets and electric skillets can all be used to make light, fluffy, delicious biscuits.
To make biscuits using a Dutch oven, use a range eye, grill or campfire to get the oven hot. Then you simply place the biscuits in the bottom of the oven, being careful not let them touch the sides. Some people like to lightly rub the inside of the oven with oil to avoid sticking, but generally that is not a problem unless you do not get the oven hot enough before putting the biscuits in. Once the biscuits are in, cover the pan with the lid and bake for 12-16 minutes.
Using a cast iron skillet uses the same basic principles of the Dutch oven. You preheat the skillet, over a range, grill, or campfire, and then you place the biscuits in and cover tightly. The lid you use should give 2-4 inches of space between the lid and the biscuit tops. This gives the biscuits room to rise and provides air circulation above the biscuits. Another cast iron skillet can be flipped on top of the bottom one to serve as the lid. This skillet can also be preheated to allow more even baking heat. Some people use crumpled tin foil, poultry skewers, or perforated pie tins to line the bottom of a skillet in order to prevent sticking. Sticking is not usually a problem unless the biscuits are too moist or are cooking much too slowly.
Learning to make biscuits without an oven takes a certain amount of practice. It is difficult to determine exact temperatures so keeping a close eye on your first few batches of skillet biscuits is important.
It is also important to learn to adjust your method if you are not getting the moist, flaky, evenly browned biscuits you want to get. If your biscuits are coming out a bit soggy, then try getting the pan you are using a bit hotter before putting the biscuits in, or use a type of lid that can also be preheated. It may also be helpful to use a lid that allows some steam to escape, or use aluminum foil to raise the sides of the pan up higher.
If your biscuits are burned on the bottom, try using poultry skewers or lining your pan with aluminum foil. You may also find you prefer your skillet biscuit recipe to use a bit more shorting or butter. Some people swear by using oil instead of butter or shortening, although this will necessarily result in a denser biscuit than using cold butter or shortening. The important thing is to realize that it is possible to make biscuits without having a traditional oven. A few trial runs will soon have you producing biscuits that you and your loved ones can’t wait to eat.