White Lily Sweet Cake Biscuits

[Photograph: Donna Currie]

Most biscuits are meant to be savory, or at the least, neutral. These biscuits are sweet and they're meant for dessert. If the only strawberry shortcake you've eaten was made with sponge cake, you should try it with biscuits.

The recipe gives instructions for assembling the shortcake, but I put them together the way I wanted to. Since the biscuits were thin, I made a three-layer shortcake instead of just splitting a biscuit in half.

What Worked: The perfect biscuits for strawberry shortcake, not to mention great little sweet treats on their own.

What Didn't: This was another recipe I attempted in the midst of a heatwave, which meant they spread quite a bit during baking. Not the fault of the recipe, but it's something to be careful of.

Suggested Tweaks: A sprinkle of sugar on top of the biscuits before baking would be nice.

Adapted from Southern Biscuits by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart. Copyright © 2011. Published by Gibbs Smith. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved

About the author: Donna Currie has been cooking for fun and writing for pay since the days when typewritten articles traveled by snail mail. When she combined those talents in a food column for a newspaper in her area, she realized that writing about food is almost as much fun as eating. You can find her on her blog, Cookistry or follow her on Twitter at @dbcurrie.

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White Lily Sweet Cake Biscuits

About This Recipe

Active time:20 minutes
Total time:1 hour
This recipe appears in: Southern Biscuits' White Lily Sweet Cake Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups commercial or homemade self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter, roughly cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • AND
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter, roughly cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 3 cups sliced strawberries or whole raspberries, sweetened with 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup blueberries (optional)
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • Butter, softened or melted, for finishing

Procedures

  1. 1

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

  2. 2

    Select the baking pan by determining if a soft or crisp exterior is desired. For a soft exterior, select a 8- or 9-inch cake pan, pizza pan, or oven-proof skillet where the biscuits will nestle together snugly, creating the soft exterior while baking. For a crisp exterior, select a baking sheet or other baking pan where the biscuits can be placed wider apart, allowing air to circulate and creating a crisper exterior, and brush the pan with butter.

  3. 3

    Fork-sift or whisk the 2 cups of flour and sugar in a large bowl, preferably wider than it is deep, and set aside the remaining 1/4 cup of flour. Scatter the 1/4-inch size pieces of chilled fat over the flour and work in by rubbing fingers with the fat and flour as if snapping thumb and fingers together (or use two forks or knives, or a pastry cutter) until the mixture looks like well-crumbled feta cheese. Scatter the 1/2-inch size pieces of chilled fat over the mixture and continue snapping thumb and fingers together until no pieces remain larger than a pea. Shake the bowl occasionally to allow the larger pieces of fat to bounce to the top of the flour, revealing the largest lumps that still need rubbing. If this method took longer than 5 minutes, place the bowl in the refrigerator to rechill the fat.

  4. 4

    Make a deep hollow in the center of the flour with the back of your hand. Lightly beat together the egg and 1/3 cup of the cream, and pour the mixture into the hollow, reserving the remaining 1/3 cup of the cream. Stir the mixture with a rubber spatula or large metal spoon, using broad circular strokes to quickly pull the flour into the liquid. Mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the sticky dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If there is some flour remaining on the bottom and sides of the bowl, stir in 1 to 4 tablespoons of reserved cream, just enough to incorporate the remaining flour into the shaggy wettish dough. If the dough is too wet, use more flour when shaping.

  5. 5

    Lightly sprinkle a board or other clean surface using some of the reserved flour. Turn the dough out onto the board and sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour. With floured hands, fold the dough in half, and pat dough out into a 1/3- to 1/2-inch thick round, using a little additional flour only if needed. Flour again if necessary and fold the dough in half a second time. If the dough is still clumpy, pat and fold a third time. Pat dough out into a 1/2-inch thick round for a normal biscuit, 3/4-inch thick for a tall biscuit, and 1-inch-thick for a giant biscuit. Brush off any visible flour from the top. For each biscuit, dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter onto the reserved flour and cut out the biscuits, starting a the outside edge and cutting very close together, being careful not to twist the cutter. The scraps may be combined to make additional biscuits, although these scraps make tougher biscuits.

  6. 6

    Using a metal spatula if necessary, move the biscuits to the pan or baking sheet. Brush tops lightly with some of the reserved cream. Bake the biscuits on the top rack of the oven for a total of 12 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness, until light golden brown. After 6 minutes, rotate the pan in the oven so that the front of the pan is now turned to the back, and check to see if the bottoms are browning too quickly. If so, slide another baking pan underneath to add insulation and retard browning. Continue baking another 6 to 9 minutes until the biscuits are light golden brown. When the biscuits are done, remove them from the oven and lightly brush the tops with butter. Turn the biscuits out upside down on a plate to cool slightly. Serve hot, right side up.

  7. 7

    Toss berries together. Split the biscuits in half and spoon fruit between layers. Replace top layer and spoon on additional fruit. Add whipped cream on top. Garnish with fresh whole fruit.

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