That was the dominant crowd reaction at a recent shortcake demo I gave.
"That's ALL that's in those biscuits?"
That's right: the short list of ingredients in these biscuits is vanilla, sugar, cream, and... My New Best Friend in the Kitchen: Self-Rising Flour.
This lower-protein flour is ideal for a whole range of baked treats, from pancakes and biscuits to cookies, cake, muffins, and quick breads (think banana bread).
Self-rising flour includes both salt and baking powder, making it quick and convenient to use.
Strawberry season is upon us, in all its bright-red, juicy/sweet glory.
And what simpler way to go one step beyond plain fresh berries than to pair them with quick and easy (just two ingredients) warm biscuits?
That's right – just two ingredients. The simple addition of heavy cream (sugar and vanilla are optional, though tasty) to self-rising flour makes absolutely fail-safe tasty, golden biscuits.
Are you a biscuit wannabe who's never quite hit on the right formula? Try these Cream Biscuits; you'll never go back to traditional butter-and-milk biscuits again.
Preheat the oven to 425°F; move a rack to the top third of the oven.
Whisk together 2 cups (227g) King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour and 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar.
Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 cup (227g) heavy or whipping cream. There may be a bit of dry flour left in the bottom of the bowl; stir in additional cream or milk until all the flour is moistened.
Turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface, sprinkle flour on top of the dough, and fold it over several times.
Now, you can simply break off balls of dough (or scoop balls with a cookie scoop), and set them on a baking sheet. But for perfectly round, flat-topped biscuits, you'll want to take the time to cut biscuits with a cutter.
Pat the dough into a 6" to 7" circle about 1/2" to 3/4" thick. Use a sharp biscuit cutter (2" is a good size) to cut rounds. Don't twist the cutter as you cut; simply press down firmly (though also gently when you reach the bottom, if you're cutting on a silicone mat as I am here). If the cutter starts to stick, dip it in flour.
And why do you want to use a sharp biscuit cutter (rather than a drinking glass), and cut straight down, rather than twisting? The cleaner the cut (i.e., no pressed-down edges), the taller the biscuits will rise as they bake.
Cut the rounds as close together as possible; biscuits cut on the initial go-around will be more tender than those cut after you've gathered and re-rolled any dough scraps.
Unless you simply pat the dough into a square and cut square biscuits, you WILL end up with some leftover scraps. Gently pile them atop one another, gently press together, and cut additional biscuits.
The tops of biscuits cut from scraps will be a little rough, but no worries; no one is going to spend time scrutinizing the biscuits' tops once they're turned into shortcake.
Brush each biscuit with some melted butter (or milk, or cream), and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired.
I always desire. There's nothing like coarse sparkling sugar to brighten up what might otherwise be a plain-jane biscuit.
Place the biscuits on an ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake them for 12 to 16 minutes, until they're a light golden brown.
Remove the biscuits from the oven, and cool them right on the pan, or on a rack.
Now – on to shortcake.
OK, you caught me – I ran out of cream to whip, so I used the squirt-from-a-can stuff. OK in a pinch; but the thick, dense-yet-light texture of "real" whipped cream just isn't there.
Anyway, here's the shortcake process I like to follow.
Split the biscuits. If they're still warm, gild the lily by spreading each of the bottom halves with a bit of butter.
Add a dollop of whipped cream, then the fruit of your choice. I'm using fresh blueberries and raspberries here; there's more to shortcake than strawberries, you know! Another dollop of whipped cream atop the berries is followed by the biscuit top.
Like this. Add a fork, and off you go.
Some choose to add yet more whipped cream on top. And if your biscuits are pale or not as attractive as they might be, this is certainly an option.
But I happen to like the flavor and texture of an old-fashioned baking powder biscuit – especially one made with heavy cream. So I skip the extra cream, and let the biscuit shine.
Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Cream Biscuits.