Baking can be tricky, even when you’re Joanna Gaines.
The Fixer Upper star, who just released her debut cookbook Magnolia Table, shares her perfect biscuit recipe in the latest issue of PEOPLE—but Gaines only figured out the secret to the breakfast staple after plenty of practice.
“It took me a year of Saturdays to get these biscuits just right,” she writes in the very first recipe of her cookbook. “Almost every weekend for months I worked up another batch for Chip and the kids to taste and then wrote down their feedback. Biscuit after biscuit was judged to be too heavy, too light, too flat, too salty, too dry, or just…not right.”
Using her kids Duke, 9, Drake, 13, Emmie, 8, and Ella, 11, as taste testers only encouraged the pregnant home designer, who is due with the couple’s fifth child this summer, to keep trying until she got it right.
“I vividly remember the moment I finally nailed it, when the whole family declared simultaneously, ‘This is it,’” she says. As for what did the trick, Gaines credits her “unusual addition of eggs” to the dough and her method of making sure each of the biscuits is touching in the pan before getting baked.
“Chip thinks they are nothing less than heaven on earth,” she says. “Every Saturday he has the same breakfast—fried eggs cooked over-medium and two biscuits, one slathered with butter and strawberry jam and the other one tucked under a generous serving of sausage gravy. Every week he declares that it’s the best breakfast he has ever had.”
The HGTV star’s bumpy road towards perfection in the kitchen is exactly why she loves cooking. “I really feel like this isn’t something that you have to be amazing at. It’s just the idea of getting after it, trying it, being okay with failing,” she tells PEOPLE, “but then there’s so much more reward.”
Get Gaines’ full recipe below.
4 cups self-rising flour, plus more for the work surface
2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1½ cups (3 sticks) cold salted butter, grated or cut into 1⁄2-in. pieces
2 large eggs, beaten, plus 1 large egg for brushing
1½ cups plus 1 Tbsp. whole buttermilk, divided (add more if needed)
1. Whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture, using a pastry blender, until pieces are even and resemble the size of peas.
2. Add 2 eggs to flour mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until combined. Stir in 1½ cups of the buttermilk until dough forms a sticky mass. If mixture is too dry, add more buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition until desired consistency is reached. Cover bowl; refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight.
3. Place rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. Place chilled dough on a floured work surface. Dust your hands with flour, and press dough into a 14×1⁄2-inch round.
5. Dust a 2¾-inch round cutter with flour; cut about 20 biscuits from dough. If necessary, roll out scraps to cut more biscuits.
6. Transfer biscuits to prepared baking sheet, arranging so that they are all touching (see photo below).
7. Whisk together remaining egg and 1 tablespoon buttermilk in a small bowl. Brush mixture over tops of biscuits.
8. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool biscuits slightly on baking sheet on a wire rack.
9. Biscuits are best the day they are made (ideally, fresh out of the oven). Serve with strawberry jam or gravy, if desired. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Makes: 20 biscuits
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes, plus chilling