In my years of baking and teaching, I have found that people are leery of making pie crusts and biscuits. The one thing both of these usually have in common is cutting in the butter. How about a recipe for the best biscuits ever with no butter – period.
This has to be the easiest biscuit recipe ever with only 4 ingredients. Cake flour is used to ensure tenderness. The cream takes the place of butter. When you think of butter, it is only cream that is whipped to a solid state with the liquid being spun out. So the use of all cream makes perfect sense.
The dough will be a bit wet and that it as it should be. I learned the traditional way of making biscuits from Shirley Corriher, a biochemist who wrote, Cookwise and Bakewise. With Shirley being from the south, I can’t imagine a better teacher. She stressed the importance of the dough being very wet so the steam created in a hot oven would cause the biscuits to expand to great heights.
I have given two instructions for baking depending upon how you want them to come out.
The Strawberry Balsamic Jam was originally used for a Strawberry Chicken Salad we made at the shop, but it teams perfectly with these biscuits. While the normal recipe for fruit jams is equal parts of sugar and fruit by weight, this recipe has a bit more sugar due to the balsamic vinegar. The black pepper gives a bit of heat that rounds out the jam.
While jams are not difficult to make, when to stop cooking is often a mystery if you haven’t done it before. There are all kinds of spoon tests, but the easiest way is simply to take it to 200 degrees and remove it from the heat. Stir the jam from time to time while boiling, increasing the time and frequency after the mixture gets to the halfway point.
Be sure to use a pan at least three times as big as the combined ingredients as the mixture will bubble up considerably. Conversely, as it approaches the end of the cooking time, the volume will appear to decrease as the mixture gets thicker while the bubbles go from frantic to large and lazy.
When the jam is done, remove it from the heat and let it cool. Transfer to a container and store in the refrigerator.
Biscuits and jam are a treat, even if occasionally which is all the more reason to make sure they are the best ever.
Preheat oven* (see note below).
Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Blend together. With the machine running, pour the cream in a slow, steady stream. The dough should be somewhat sticky. If it is not, add more cream.
On a floured surface, knead the dough 5 or 6 times to bring together, then pat or roll the dough to about 3/4 inch thick. Cut out desired shape and size. Re-roll as necessary. Place on a parchment lined sheet. Brush the tops with the 1 tablespoon cream. Bake (see choices below) just until colored around edges.
Serve immediately or cool and freeze. To heat from a frozen state, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place on a baking sheet directly from the freezer and heat for 8 to 10 minutes.
*If you bake the biscuits at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes they will have a softer top and bottom.
If you bake them at 450 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes they will have a browner and crisper top and bottom.
Strawberry Balsamic Jam 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup water
3 1/2 cup sugar (700 grams or 1 1/2 pounds)
1 1/4 pounds strawberries, hulled and sliced (575 grams)
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
Place all the ingredients in the order listed in a saucepan at least three times as large as the ingredients as it will rise up really high when it come to a rolling boil. Stir occasionally and especially as it gets thicker.
Bring to a full boil for 10 to 15 minutes. It will be done when the syrup running off the spoon is noticeably thicker and the mixture will have fallen in the pan and the bubbles will be slow and thick. The temperature of the jam will be 200 degrees. Remove from the heat, cool and store in the refrigerator.
Yield: Approximately 3 cups