Thursday, December 17, 2009


Holy cow, I made biscuits! Honest-to-goodness, delicious biscuits! And it was so incredibly easy!

OK, biscuits may not be the hardest thing in the world to make, but I’ve always avoided them for some reason, probably because I have an irrational fear of any recipe that involves cutting butter into flour (pie crust, etc.), plus I’ve made a heck of a lot of baking-soda breads that haven’t turned out well. But when I saw this recipe so highly praised at The Smitten Kitchen and realized that it used cream instead of butter, there went my feeble excuse for avoiding biscuit-making. Even with my questionable dough-handling abilities, I was pretty sure I could manage to stir melted butter and heavy cream into some dry ingredients, pat the dough out flat, and cut it into circles (not owning a biscuit cutter, of course, I just used the top of a drinking glass). I was skeptical the entire time, waiting for flat, dry lumps of sadness to emerge from the oven, so imagine my thrill when they came out light, flaky, and puffy, just like real biscuits! (“But they are real biscuits,” A had to keep reminding me.)

We served these with a cider-braised chicken dish (from the St. Paul Farmers Market Cookbook) that turned out a little disappointingly, but the biscuits so wildly exceeded my expectations that I didn’t even mind. Now that I know I can whip them up with no trouble on an average weeknight, the possibilities are endless! They’ll be great dipped into soups, or spread with homemade jam, but when I get back to cooking after New Year’s, my first order of business will be to try them with creamed chicken on top.

The biscuits are best straight from the oven, but I still found them pretty tasty the next day, after a brief zapping in the microwave. But if you don’t want to eat 10 biscuits right away, you can either freeze the leftover biscuits or—and this sounds like a brilliant idea I’ll certainly be trying soon—freeze the dough rounds to bake later.

3 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the surface
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt butter in a small pot or microwave dish, and set aside.

2. Sift 2 cups flour, the baking powder, and the salt into a large bowl. Fold in 1¼ cups cream. If the dough is not soft or easily handled, fold in the remaining ¼ cup cream, little by little. (I ended up using about 2 additional tablespoons.)

3. Turn dough onto a floured surface, mound it into a ball, and, using your hands, press it to a thickness of about ¾ inch. Cut into rounds, 2½ inches in diameter. Gather dough scraps, press them flat again, and continue to make rounds. Dip the top of each round in melted butter (or brush it generously with butter if that seems easier) and arrange biscuits on the baking sheet.

4. Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately, or freeze for future use. (You can also freeze the uncooked dough rounds; they can be baked straight from the freezer, although a few extra minutes of baking time will be needed.)

Yield: About 10
Time: 30 minutes
Leftover potential: Good, if frozen

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