|4.9028573 (12)||rate this recipe »|
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.