Sweet Biscuits

Part of London's Canada Day fireworks.

This weekend is a weird holiday limbo, since Canada Day is passed and everyone I know in America is celebrating the 4th of July.

A friend invited us over for dinner on Friday night and asked us to bring dessert. I associate strawberry shortcake with the Fourth of July, and my friend had berries that needed to be eaten, so we brought sweet biscuits and whipped cream.

Two years ago we went to Fort Wayne for the 4th and Sargibso made sweet biscuits instead of angel food cake for the dessert. I guess that's how southerners do it, and it's my new favorite method, too.

I didn't get a good picture of the assembled short cakes, but they were definitely a hit. The recipe is a lot like a scone recipe, and pretty simple. I'll definitely make these again!

Sweet Biscuits (for Strawberry Shortcake)
from Fine Cooking.

For the biscuits:
13-1/2 oz. (about 3 cups) all-purpose flour
3 Tbs. granulated sugar; plus about 3 Tbs. for sprinkling
1-1/2 Tbs. baking powder
3/4 tsp. table salt
6 oz. (12 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1-1/2 cups heavy cream; plus about 3 Tbs. for brushing
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
For the strawberries:
5 cups 1/8-inch-thick strawberry slices (from about 3 pints)
1 to 3 Tbs. granulated sugar, depending on the sweetness of the berries
For the whipped cream:
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Make the biscuits:

Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Toss with a fork to combine. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or a fork until the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas. Combine the cream and vanilla in a liquid measure. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the cream mixture into the well. Mix with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened and just combined; it should look shaggy and still feel a little dry. Gently knead by hand five or six times to pick up any dry ingredients remaining in the bottom of the bowl and to create a loose ball.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into an 8-inch square, 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Transfer the dough to the parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425°F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and trim about 1/4 inch from each side to create a neat, sharp edge (a bench knife or a pastry scraper works well, or use a large chef’s knife, being sure to cut straight down). Cut the dough into 9 even squares (about 2-1/2 inches square) and spread them about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. With a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, brush each biscuit with a thin layer of cream and sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake until the biscuits are medium golden brown on top and the bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.

Prepare the berries:

Toss the berries with 1 Tbs. sugar and taste. If they’re still tart, sprinkle with another 1 to 2 Tbs. sugar. Let sit at room temperature until the sugar dissolves and the berries begin to release their juices, at least 30 minutes but no more than 3 hours.

*Note - I didn't do the berry preparation listed here, but I did make the whipped cream according to this recipe and it's pretty standard. Next time I plan on using the berry instructions, too.*

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