Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cream Biscuits

Flaky, golden biscuits, hot from the oven, split and spread with butter...Mmmm.

This is my favorite biscuit recipe, and the easiest. The result is always light and flaky, even though the recipe does not call for the traditional “cutting in” of shortening or butter. You can have these in the oven in five minutes and onto the table ten minutes later.

Preheat the oven to 450˚F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.

Have ready an ungreased baking pan (9x13") or baking sheet.

Whisk together the dry ingredients:

2 cups King Arthur All-Purpose Flour (don’t bother with other brands)
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons sugar (optional, but I add it)

Stir in, all at once, 1 ¼ cups cold heavy cream:

Mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, working quickly. The dough should come together easily to form a rough ball. If it looks like this…

…then you need more liquid. Add a bit more cream – say, a tablespoon or two, a little at a time:

That’s better:

(The amount of liquid depends on the weather and the moisture content of the flour.)

When the dough has come together nicely, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. A cool granite countertop is ideal:

Knead with a very light touch just until the dough is smooth and cohesive, about a half-dozen turns, or about thirty seconds, no more:

The goal here is simply to distribute the ingredients and smooth out the dough a little. Over-kneading will result in a tough, chewy, flat biscuit. This is altogether a different sort of kneading than is used when making yeast breads.

Roll or pat the dough into a round or oblong about ¾” thick.

The shape doesn’t really matter. As with the kneading, use a very light touch. It’s better to end up with an irregular shape than try to manipulate, re-roll, or re-knead. With biscuits, less handling is always better. Over-handling will also warm the dough too much, which will break down the cold fat in the cream, which will make the finished biscuit less flaky.

Using sharp-edged cutters, cut the dough into any shapes you like. I have several favorite cutters that I use for biscuits: small and medium-sized round biscuit cutters, and several nice old-fashioned cutters, including two with scalloped edges (heart and circle), and a small heart that is from a set of four (club, spade, diamond, heart) that was probably intended for making petits fours or little sandwiches. Cut straight down to the surface; do not twist the cutters, as this will “blur” the cut edges and prevent the biscuits from rising high.

Place the biscuits in the ungreased pan, with at least a half-inch of space around each one. If they touch, they will not rise properly.

Now, what to do with those scraps leftover between the cut shapes? Don’t bother re-rolling and re-cutting; they’ll just get tough. Enjoy them as they are! Put them on a little baking pan and bake them alongside the biscuits.

Bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes, until risen and golden brown.

Here are some heart-shaped biscuits from a later batch:

All my recipes may be viewed here:

They are further organized as follows, with some overlap:
Main Dishes
Soups and Stews

1 comment:

  1. Good idea for the scraps - I'm absolutely trying that next time. How about brushing with butter and sprinkling with cinnamon sugar before popping into the oven? Hmmmm... YUMMMMMM! PJH


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