Prometheus brought fire to the Greeks. Edison (and Tesla) turned electricity from a plaything of the rich and curious into an indispensable ingredient in modern life. Dr. Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine and saved millions of lives Another genius–though one unknown to history–invented the biscuit cutter, saving me from eating dense, doughy “biscuits.”


Instead, I get beauties like these. I’ve been making Paul Buxman’s Biscuits from the New York Times Magazine‘s food issue. They’re pretty simple (unless you forget to buy milk as I usually do).

However, I ignored the recipe’s demand that I use a sharp biscuit cutter. I thought it was unnecessarily silly, since it was voiced in the same tone as the direction to cover — not wrap! — the biscuits in a kitchen towel for serving. Instead, I used the mouth of a jam jar. But I got those gross doughy pucks.

My $10-ish clearance purchase of biscuit cutters, to my surprise, saved the day. Now my biscuits rise into flaky layers and are much lighter.

I didn’t know what a biscuit cutter was before I bought them; there’s no substantive difference as far as I can tell between a biscuit cutter and a sharp, circular cookie cutter.

I still disobey the recipe’s requirement of 2-inch spaced biscuits; 3/4″, such that all of the biscuits fit on one tray, is fine. I don’t freeze the butter for very long, but just long enough that it doesn’t melt while I cut it. I don’t use a rolling pin — but that’s because I don’t have one. There’s something primordially satisfying — perhaps contradicting my technological thesis — about kneading and flattening dough by hand.

The rise of technology made man the master of his environment, as depicted in this classic painting, The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich.

The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog

Just the same, a biscuit cutter has made me the master of my kitchen. If only technology could advance to the point that the self-filling biscuit plate were a reality:
Self-Filling Biscuit Plate -- Next Steps in Kitchen Technology?