One morning 5 or so years ago, Improvised Life’s former assistant Sarah walked in with a surprise gift: a basket of warm cream biscuits that she’d baked herself and brought on the train from Brooklyn. We stopped everything and pulled out French butter laced with fleur de sel and slathered it on. Heaven. Then we tried the biscuits with the Grapefruit and Smoked Salt Marmalade that Sarah also thought to bring, from Brooklyn-based Anarchy in a Jar (“the revolution starts in your mouth”).

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

The biscuits were airy, almost ethereal with the richness and flavor only butter and cream can give, and a slight crunch outside. Sarah found the recipe a couple of years ago on Smitten Kitchen (who adapted them from the great James Beard) and tried it after she had failed at making classic butter-based biscuits. I just couldn’t make that butter thing happen right to achieve the proper texture. She told us. And they’re impossible to make in the summer if you don’t have air conditioning, because you can’t keep the butter cold.  So she searched out other options.

With cream biscuits you just stir heavy cream into sifted flour spiked with a little baking powder, salt and a smidge of sugar. Once you’ve cut the dough into rounds, you dunk or brush them with melted butter, then bake.

They are REALLY REALLY divine. We love especially that they are the happy result of something that didn’t work leading to something that did, BIG-TIME.

So here’s the recipe. We figure they are the perfect weekend pleasure and will provide serious comfort during this challenging time. We recommend serving them warm with really great butter (if you can’t buy it, make it!)…filled with jam or warm sauteed apples or pears…

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

Recipe: Cream Biscuits

Adapted from James Beard’s American Cookery

Made about 10 to 12 biscuits

3 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the surface
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt butter in a small pot or microwave dish, and set aside.

Sift two cups flour, the baking powder, salt and (if using) sugar into a large bowl. Fold in 1 1/4 cups cream. If the dough is not soft or easily handled, fold in some of the remaining 1/4 cup cream, little by little as needed. (I ended up using two additional tablespoons, or half the unused cream.)

Turn dough onto a floured surface, mound it into a ball and, using your hands, press it to a thickness of about 3/4 inch. Cut into rounds, 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Gather dough scraps and continue to make rounds. Arrange the biscuits on the baking sheet and brush the top of each round with melted butter.

Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately, or flash freeze for future use.

[Biscuits can be baked straight from the freezer, and additional few minutes baking time will be needed, usually around 3 to 5.]


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2 replies on “Serious Comfort: Cream Biscuits (3 Minutes to Assemble, 12 to Bake)

  1. That is a *seriously* beautiful knife!

  2. Danke!
    ,it’s going to be a good weekend!!!

    Wish you guys,
    as well.

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