I love me a good biscuit. Drown it in gravy (but only if it’s actually good), or slather it with butter then top it with honey, and I’m a happy person.
Most of the biscuits out there are usually very similar in style. They are made with some sort of fat, usually lard and/or butter, and flour. Not particularly fancy, and usually with no added seasoning other than salt. They are meant to be the supporting cast of a meal, not the main star. But they are pretty tasty just as they are, if you ask me, especially when they are fresh from the oven.
However, there is another class of biscuits made in much the same way, but with a couple of key differences: sweet biscuits made with sugar and cream. Those little changes take a savory biscuit and turn it into a lightly sweet treat. Sweet biscuits are not terribly different from traditional English scones, and can be served as a suitable substitute for one. They work perfectly with a pat of butter (or better yet, clotted cream) and a dollop of jam or drizzle of honey. They are also a proper topping for a fruit cobbler (more on that one in the very near future! Aaaannndd… here it is! A great recipe for a fruit cobbler!).
Though these biscuits seem rather plain, they are anything but tasteless. It takes all my power of subterfuge to hide them from the others well enough so that they will last more than a day. They are that good. Thankfully, they are very easy to prepare. Though they are quite tasty at room temperature, a quick warming in the microwave really brings out their tender texture and lightly sweet flavor. That’s assuming, of course, that they will last long enough to even get a chance to cool in the first place!
Some quick notes before you begin:
If you want a tender biscuit (and why wouldn’t you?), don’t overwork your dough!! Wheat flour naturally has gluten in it and the more you handle the dough, the more that gluten gets developed. This is great for things like yeast bread, not so much for this. Be gentle.
Be sure to use heavy cream, also called whipping cream. You don’t want half-and-half, or what is called cereal cream in other countries. Whipping cream has a lower moisture content and a higher fat percent, and both are needed to get the tender texture of these biscuits.
I use salted butter for everything. Yes, even desserts. We use salt for bringing out the flavor of savory recipes so why would we leave that out of desserts? We want flavor there, too, right? Use salted butter. If you don’t have it, then add a couple of pinches of salt to the flour.
Both the butter and the cream should be very cold. This is fairly common when making pastries and the reason is to avoid having the fats separate out and turn the pastry into a greasy rock. Chilled butter and cream will allow for a lighter and flakier texture to be able to develop.
Don’t skip the step of chilling the dough. This gives the flour a chance to absorb the moisture and to firm the fat from the butter again. This will prevent the dough from spreading out while baking as well as keep the fat from melting out.
These biscuits will not darken much during baking, so don’t be alarmed by their lighter color. If you want to give them a little more of that golden-brown color, you could brush the tops of the dough with a little more cream just before baking, but this is optional.
Sweet Cream Biscuits
- 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (measure by whisking the flour first then gently scooping into the measuring cup)
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 6 Tbsp. salted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
- 3/4 cup heavy cream (plus more for brushing over the dough, optional)
If you have a food processor, place the flour, baking powder, sugar, and chilled butter slices into the bowl fitted with the cutting blade. Otherwise, use a large mixing bowl. Gently pulse the processor until all the ingredients are mixed and the texture resembles coarse sand. If working by hand, use a knife or pastry cutter to achieve the same texture.
Gently fold in the heavy cream until all the flour is incorporated. Cover the dough with plastic and place in the refrigerator. You want to chill the dough for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Remove the dough from the fridge. Divide into 18 equal sized pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Be sure to space out the dough as it will spread as it bakes. Flatten each ball a little. Brush a little cream over the tops of the dough if you want a darker color to the finished biscuits, but this is optional.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. The biscuits will still be a lighter color unless brushed with cream. They should spring back when lightly pushed in if they are baked through.
Remove the biscuits and carefully transfer them to baking racks to cool. They are best served slightly warm and taste amazing with a little clotted cream and jam. Enjoy!