Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cream Biscuits

It's been a while since I've written something for this blog. I mean, a really long while. It's been something like four months since my last post. Originally, I chalked it up to being busy after my move to New York Then it was because I hadn't made anything interesting. Then I told myself it was because I didn't have any pictures of my food. But the hard reality was that I could not motivate myself to write. (Though I could use a new camera.)

So I've decided to approach the blog from a different perspective. Rather than reserve the blog for long, experimental baking projects, I'm going to try and...well, just write. The posts may be shorter and might not even be about baking, but I'm going to try and make the effort to add more to this site. Starting with this post!

This morning, I woke up and decided I really wanted biscuits. I'm not sure why. I think it's because I made pie over the weekend for the first time in well over a year (the last attempt was back at Miracle Blondies) and wanted to do more butter/flour work. Or maybe I just really wanted some fat. Whatever the reason, biscuits were going to happen today.

Usually, my reluctance to making something like biscuits is the need for milk. I'll use milk in recipes, but I don't drink it. Yes, I am lactose intolerant, but that's not why I don't like milk. It's the taste it leaves in my mouth after drinking it that puts me off. As a result, I avoid recipes that use milk so I don't have a whole container of milk languishing in my fridge gradually spoiling while I pretend it doesn't exist.

Thankfully, I stumbled across a recipe from America's Test Kitchen's "Cook's Illustrated Cookbook" that didn't need butter or milk. Instead, it just called for heavy cream. And instead of rubbing butter into the flour, I just had to stir everything together, shape it, cut it, and toss it in the oven! Making the dough from start to finish took me about five minutes, and baking it took another 15. Only 20 minutes from thinking of biscuits to when I started eating them? Sold.

Making the biscuits is easy, but how do they taste? Pretty good, actually. They're not the amazing knock-out biscuits I was dreaming of, though. The taste of biscuits made with butter is very easily distinguished from those made with cream instead, and I honestly prefer butter instead of cream. But on the flip side, using cream instead of butter saves a lot of time and effort and is well worth the slightly less rich taste. I'll definitely be adding this recipe to my index of "make agains."
"Quick and Easy Cream Biscuits" (from The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, published by America's Test Kitchen, 2011; originally appearing in Cook's Illustrated, May 2000 issue here: Quick and Easy Cream Biscuits

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for the counter
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Stir in the cream with a wooden spoon until dough forms, about 30 seconds. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gather into a ball. Knead the dough briefly until smooth, about 30 seconds.

3. Shape the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick circle. Cut biscuits into 2.5 inch rounds or wedges. Place rounds or wedges on parchment-lined baking sheet. (The baking sheet can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 hours.) Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.