David Lee's Biscuits, Perfect for Shortcakes

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David Lee's Biscuits, Perfect for Shortcakes

star rating (12) rate this recipe »
Published prior to 2008

Our online baking forum, bakingcircle.com, was graced almost from the beginning by David Lee, a baker who loved sharing his recipes, tips, and baking lore, and was known for his calm, friendly online presence. David's specialty was biscuits, and many of us have become excellent biscuit bakers simply by using the following recipe.

Like many recipes, this one has traveled many miles. David picked it up from a James Beard book; Beard said he had gotten the recipe from his Chinese cook. David added his interpretation; now I've added mine. We all travel a slightly different path, but we're walking through the same forest: a love of baking, of creating. We write different words, but speak the same language: the language of flour and butter, sugar and salt. And eventually, we all reach the same destination: something wonderful to share with one another.

David passed away in March 2005, leaving us much too soon. But we'll treasure the memory of his gentle voice, his "groaner" jokes, and his special recipes—a legacy that will live on with his many baking friends.

P.S. Step-by-step photos illustrating how to make these biscuits, and turn them into strawberry shortcake, are available at Flourish, our King Arthur blog.

2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) Perfect Pastry Blend or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 to 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, enough to make a cohesive dough
1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter

*David called for "soft Southern flour;" that's why we like to use our Mellow Pastry Blend, a lovely "soft" flour whose protein level falls right in between all-purpose and pastry flours, giving you the best of both worlds: tender texture, and ease of handling. If you use unbleached all-purpose flour, substitute 1/4 cup (1 3/8 ounces) cornstarch for 1/4 cup of the flour.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Stir in enough heavy cream to moisten the dough thoroughly. You'll probably use about 1 cup in the summer, 1 1/4 cups in the winter, and 1 cup + 2 tablespoons at the turn of the seasons. You want to be able to gather the dough togeteher, squeeze it, and have it hang together, without dry bits falling off.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and very gently pat it into an 8" circle about 3/4" thick. Use a sharp biscuit cutter (we use a 2 1/4" cutter) to cut rounds. Dip the rounds into melted butter, and place them on a lightly greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired; this is a nice touch if you're going to use the biscuits for shortcake.

Bake the biscuits in a preheated 425°F oven for 15 to 18 minutes, till they're golden brown. If you have any melted butter left over, brush it on the baked biscuits. "Serve hot!," says David. Yield: 10 large (about 2 1/2"), ultra-tender biscuits.

To make Maine-style strawberry shortcake: Trim and slice 1 quart fresh strawberries. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar, stir, and set aside at room temperature for several hours; or refrigerate overnight.

Whip 1 cup (8 ounces) heavy cream till it barely holds its shape. Sweeten to taste with granulated sugar.

Split oven-warm biscuits in half. Top the bottom half of each with whipped cream, strawberries, more whipped cream, then the top half of the biscuit. Add a dollop of whipped cream and a slice of strawberry on top, as a garnish. Yield: 8 to 10 shortcakes.


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  • star rating 07/03/2014
  • Kelle from Michigan
  • Delicious! Light and just sweet enough as shortcake. I don't think I will ever make scones again. These are as good and easier.
  • star rating 05/09/2014
  • Abbie from Raleigh, NC
  • These are FANTASTIC!!! Easy, light, perfect biscuits. Made Strawberry Shortcake using this recipe. Biscuits are tender on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside with a delicate butter flavor on top. They rose in the oven to double - about 1- 1/2 inches tall.. The salt was the perfect amount to contrast with the slightly sweet biscuits. I only varied from the recipe by using 1 Tbsp. sugar in the biscuits. Instead of cutting into rounds, I patted dough into a 7" square and cut 9 biscuits. So easy - so good!
  • star rating 05/07/2013
  • 10161016 from KAF Community
  • Yum! I missed the direction to sub cornstarch for part of the flour, but they're still tender and delicious as can be. Bless DAvid and thanks, KAF, for anpther great recipe!
  • star rating 10/19/2012
  • Samantha Reckford from KAF Community
  • This has quickly become my most demanded recipe. Every dinner party, potluck and picnic, this shortcake steals the show. I've made it about 8 times, and each time has been perfect. A surefire success. Also wonderful if you add blueberries, raspberries or other fruit along with the strawberries.
  • star rating 06/04/2012
  • upstate from KAF Community
  • David Lee's biscuits are easy to make and PERFECT for shortcake. They are light and yet have a wonderful firm consistency . Since I had never made a biscuit like this I enjoyed having the security of "Baker's Banter" blog. From now on I will only use these biscuits when making shortcake. I had one left over and reheated it and had it for breakfast with a little jelly - so good.
  • star rating 05/28/2012
  • erinhibshman from KAF Community
  • So easy and delicious! These are wonderful with any fresh berry or fruit. I quickly stirred these together and had these with some fresh strawberries and frozen blueberries mixed together - so GOOD! I will even make these to accompany beef stew by not adding the sugar.
  • star rating 06/15/2011
  • allstonian55 from KAF Community
  • I've been a fan of cream biscuits for shortcake for some time, because they are so easy to make. This recipe is superior, though - some other recipes are a bit TOO soft and tender, and can't stand up to the all-important strawberry juice. These biscuits are perfect. (They freeze well, too!)
  • star rating 04/26/2011
  • Dian from Paradise
  • You will truly appear to be an excellent baker when you serve these easy to make, light biscuits. Best advice was given by the creator of this recipe: serve warm. Good for shortcake or as biscuits for dinner (without the sugar on the top).
  • star rating 06/15/2010
  • Rohna from Wytheville, Virginia
  • Very easy to make, tasty, and tender. My 7-year-old daughter said she LOVED them and made "mmmm" noises the whole time! I definitely will make them again - next time for my dad when we make the 6-hr drive back home in a couple of weeks.
    There is no measure of success more important than our family members seal of approval! Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF
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