Tuesday, April 20, 2010

{TWD} Sweet Cream Biscuits



While I don't remember eating biscuits in my childhood (Massachusetts and New York), I began my drift southward when I was 18 and have encountered my share of good (and not-as-wonderful) biscuits in the ensuing 30+ years. Many local establishments serve them as an accompaniment for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But I can count on one hand the number of times I have actually baked them myself. I've used my old set of fluted round cutters far more frequently for cookies than for biscuits.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- These Sweet Cream Biscuits were chosen the week for the Tuesdays With Dorie baking group by Melissa of Love At First Bite. You can find the recipe by clicking here or on page 23 of Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

- The secret to baking light and fluffy biscuits, apparently, is to use a very light hand - lightly! I don't bake biscuits very often, so I this is the kind of information that makes me think my biscuits are doomed to hockey puck-dom. But I followed a few tips I'd read recently, and my biscuits rose pretty well and were fluffy and light.

2" cutter mysteriously missing from this set.

- When we baked Sweet Potato Biscuits for Tuesdays With Dorie back in October, I realized I had lost the ideal-sized 2" cutter from my set of what-used-to-be four scalloped cutters. To remedy the problem, at Christmas Santa brought me a wonderful set of nesting cutters, and I assumed I'd be prepared for any circular cutting exigency. Except a 2" one, apparently. The new set has 11 round cutters, but none of them happens to be the magic 2". I picked the closest (smaller) cutter for these biscuits.

Wouldn't you think, with 11 cutters from 3/4" to 3 5/8", there would be one that is 2"? Yeah, me too.

- I cut this recipe back to 1/3, which yielded 4 smallish biscuits.

- White Lily flour is sort of iconic biscuit-making flour here in the South, because it is so fine and fluffy. A couple of years back, White Lily was bought by Smuckers and the Tennessee mill was closed in favor of northern mills. As you can imagine, that triggered a good deal of weeping and gnashing of teeth (eg, here and here), as Southern bakers were pretty sure their baking would never be the same. When I heard the news, I ran out and bought some of the original flour, which I've guarded ever since, and that's what I used for this recipe. In her book Dorie gives a formula for adding extra flour in the event White Lily is used. If you weigh your flour, just use Dorie's usual standard of 4 ¾ oz for each cup of flour, no matter which brand you use.

- Instead of cane sugar, I decided to use maple sugar.

- I blended all of the dry ingredients in mini food processor before stirring in the cream w fork. I found this much easier than other biscuit recipes with butter that has to be cut or rubbed into the flour (while staying cold all the while) I didn't handle this dough with my hands at all, really, just touched the dough to confirm that it was a "soft dough", then I quickly patted - not rolled - the dough on a barely floured surface.

- From biscuit experts I've heard that when cutting biscuits it's important to push the cutter straight down and then pick it straight up - no twisting (the way I tend to do with sugar cookies). I found that I had to concentrate pretty hard on this task (really, it was challenging!) or a little twist would try to creep in.

- The biscuits rose nicely during baking, and gave off that "hot bread, time for butter" smell.

the verdict:

These biscuits were very tender and soft. My husband and I enjoyed them hot with butter and marmalade, for a wonderful Sunday afternoon snack. Thanks, Melissa, for choosing this fun recipe. It will definitely become my "go to" biscuit.

24 comments:

Kayte said...

I just knew yours would look perfectly wonderful and yummy, tribute to the fine biscuit world. So funny about the 2 inch cutter...one would think! Love all your little tips.

Jules Someone said...

Thanks for the notes. Lots of work goes into something which seems so simple!

Clivia said...

I'm coveting that set of cookie cutters even though I'm not sure I'd use them all. But how cute. Glad your biscuits were enjoyed!

Audrey said...

Me, too. If you find the gov't agency responsible for cookie cutter regulation, can you also ask them why I can find square, round and oval graduated cutters, but not rectangles? The Barefoot Contessa has one, just one, but it's become something of an obsession with me. These look gorgeous and I love the idea of maple sugar - that's a great North-South fusion recipe!

Karen said...

I am glad these turned out so well! They look delicious! Mine were not quite as flaky or light!

Leslie said...

Things like no 2" cutter in a full set confound me, but you certainly made the best of it. I can only imagine the angst that resulted when that mill shut down!

Kim said...

Perfect looking biscuits. Glad they turned out good.

Cathy said...

That is just crazy that there is no 2" cutter in the tin. It's got to be someone's idea of a joke? Still, they are super cute cutters, and your biscuits look perfect! Definitely a nice Sunday afternoon snack. These will be my go-to biscuits as well - I loved not having to deal with cutting in butter, and they really were tender and flaky.

Sweet and Savory said...

Your biscuits are what I envisioned them as. They look like they could float away with all their goodness.

Tracey said...

Wow, your biscuits were seriously successful Nancy! Gorgeous - so tall and fluffy. I'm not a big biscuit fan but I would really like to get better at making them.

Funny about the cookie cutters - but odd...

Jessica said...

Your biscuits look lovely, Nancy. They look like a perfect snack with a nice cup of tea, or even a glass of iced tea now that it's warmer. As for the 2" cutter being absent from that lovely tin of cookie cutters, that's just mind boggling to me.

TeaLady said...

Your biscuits look perfect. They rose and got nice and brown. Secret please!!!

No 2" in the other set either. If I ever find a spare one I will send it to you.

The thing about the fluted cutters is that they are hard to twist. Honest!!

mike said...

:) I know just what you mean - all those Ateco cutters (square, square fluted, round, round fluted) don't have a 2" cutter. Will a 2 3/8" suffice??? Love the addition of maple sugar - I have some and covet it - for what, I don't know... but these sound wonderful with it!

Ashley said...

These were so delicious, and I love that they call for cream. Most biscuit recipes call for buttermilk and here in Sweden it is forbidden to sell it! :( So I always have to make it, which we know, isn't always exactly how you want it! Thanks so much! :)

Di said...

How funny about the round cutters! I have that same set, but haven't really looked to see what the exact sizes are. Your biscuits look great!

Bellini Valli said...

I can imagine in the South there would be a flour perfect for making biscuits. I have also found that freezing your butter makes for very flaky and tender biscuits.

natalia said...

Ciao ! Tese biscuits look splendid !! Mine disappeared very fast !!

Flourchild said...

I have the same scalloted biscuit cut outs! I love them! Your biscuits look so fluffy and tasty! WE all enjoyed at our home too.I didn't have any cream on hand so I used buttermilk. They came out good!

Barbara said...

I have that batch of cookie cutters! Are you telling me there is not a 2" one? I am astounded. What's up with that?

Your biscuits are divine and light. They remind me how much my dad loved them with butter and maple syrup!

Anonymous said...

These are delicious looking scones not bisuits. Can't think where that name came from.

If you ever can find clotted cream have them with that and jam. Even more delicious but if not butter has to do though not the same.

As for 2" cutter use I use a wine glass to cut them out.

Pamela.

Kathleen said...

Your biscuits look picture perfect! Yummo!

Nickki said...

Your biscuits look gorgeous! I loved this recipe, definitely a keeper :-)

Jaime said...

your detailed notes are so helpful :) i've never used lily flour before

Jess said...

Those are absolutely fantastic-looking biscuits. Clearly the South has rubbed off on you! I have the same biscuit cutter set, and how it can be missing a 2" cutter is indeed a mystery for the ages.