Guy Fieri's Biscuit Recipe Calls For This Simple Swap

A lot of celebrity chefs claim to have the best biscuit recipe, with each having a "special" ingredient that they think makes theirs unique. But in a recent bake off test of four celebrity biscuit recipes, Insider reports, Guy Fieri's special ingredient made all the difference: using cake flour in addition to regular all-purpose flour. But what exactly is cake flour? Why does it make the perfect buttermilk biscuit?

It's important to understand that not all flours are created equal. Depending on the amount of gluten and protein in a particular flour, it can be called a strong flour, which has a high percentage of gluten, or a weak flour, which has a much lower gluten percentage. The gluten is basically the wheat's protein, and it's what makes bread dough stick together and smooth out when kneaded. The more protein that's in the flour, the thicker your dough will be.

Most people make biscuits from all-purpose flour, which has around 12% gluten. That can result in the "hockey puck" sort of heavy texture that many biscuits have. But cake flour is one of the lightest flours, containing only 7.5-9% gluten. As Baking A Moment notes, it's ground very finely and made from what is called soft wheat, sometimes referred to as white wheat (via Nash Organic Produce). The lower gluten percentage means it's also starchier, which makes it produce lighter, softer, fluffier results.

Cake flour is what makes these biscuits special.

Fieri's recipe calls for a mix of cake flour and all-purpose flour — you still need the all-purpose to give it some weight and texture (via Food Network). But it's the added cake flour that gives them their fluffier texture, and makes them less crumbly and less likely to fall apart, like some other biscuits, Insider reports. The recipe also calls for a dusting of sea salt on the top, another unusual option, but combined with the fair amount of butter in the recipe as well as basted on top, it enhances the buttery rich flavor.

Fieri's recipe calls for using a food processor. One of the biggest reasons biscuits become hard hockey pucks is because the dough has been over-worked or over-kneaded. The kneading process is what activates the gluten, which can make the dough thicker and denser, even with the cake flour. A food processor helps keep that mixing to a minimum, though you can mix it by hand as well.

Cake flour is fairly easy to find in the baking isle of any grocery store, but in a pinch you can create a fairly simple substitute with all-purpose flour and corn starch. Just stay away from heavier flours, like bread flours, or you'll end up with rock-hard lumps of biscuits.