It was hubbie Lee who first introduced me to the joys of biscuits.
Being a Southerner, he was accustomed to biscuits of all kinds, the best being those made by Mamaw, of course.
In the early days of our courtship, he cooked me a batch of his “bachelor special,” which consisted of green beans and stewed tomatoes on a Pillsbury biscuit.
I don’t know if it was his culinary prowess, or the addictive nature of that poppin’ fresh dough, but I was hooked.
Thereafter, if we ate in on the weekends, chances were high that breakfast would feature a canister of biscuit dough, fresh from the refrigerated section of the grocery store.
Then at some point I got around to reading the list of ingredients. Nothing too surprising I suppose, but definitely a whole lot of things that Mamaw never would have used.
Things like partially hydrogenated soy bean oil, propylene glycol alginate, mono and diglycerides, TBHQ and the like. Albeit in very minute quantities, but still. It just seemed unnecessary for something that is basically flour, fat, liquid, salt and baking powder.
It was this line of thinking that eventually started me down the path of baking.
Except for the random boxed mix over the years, I had virtually no experience in the fine art of baking. The learning curve was steep.
It was years before I worked up the courage to try biscuits, and then it turned out to be sort of a bummer. All the recipes I came across involved cutting chilled butter or shortening into flour, which I found tedious and messy and kind of annoying.
Ok I know, first world problems, but I guess I wanted something sort of like Bisquick, that I could just throw together whenever I got the hankering for biscuits, but you know, without all the trans fat.
So I gave up on biscuits for a time and focused my culinary efforts elsewhere.
Until a year or so ago, when I came across a recipe for these cream biscuits on Serious Eats. They had just two ingredients, self-rising flour and whipping cream! Ok yes, self-rising flour has salt and baking powder in it, so technically four ingredients. But no butter! At least in solid form. It was actually in there, in liquid form, hidden in the whipping cream.
What this meant was no irksome cutting of butter into flour. All you had to do was give the ingredients a quick stir and boom, instant biscuit dough.
Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit! (Or don’t. It’s up to you.) Finally a biscuit that could roll with my lazy ways.
I had to try them right away, and I was sold. It took a couple of tries to get the hang of them, and a little experimenting with flour types. Eventually I found another version of cream biscuits on Cook’s Illustrated, which is now my go to recipe. Of course they are not as good as Mamaw’s, but we have officially retired the Doughboy.
Dead Easy Whole Wheat Biscuits
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Recipe Notes: The original recipe calls for White Lily, self-rising flour, which they do not sell around these parts. So I tried a few different flour types. All purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour produce a fine, if rather delicate biscuit. White whole wheat flour, on the other hand, makes for a much sturdier biscuit, which is ideal for stuffing full of all sorts of goodies, our preferred mode of biscuit consumption. The dough is rather wet, and sticky. If it misbehaves too badly, add a bit more flour. These are easy enough that I usually just make a half batch for immediate consumption. But one of these days, when I have a bit of free time, I plan to make a double batch, cut the biscuits, freeze them on trays, then store them in a ziplock until needed. I, for one, don’t always have whipping cream on hand, but I recently discovered shelf stable whipping cream from Trader Joe’s, which does the trick quite nicely. I’m going to stock up next time I go!
2 cups white whole wheat flour plus extra for the counter
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Stir in the cream with a wooden spoon until dough forms, about 30 seconds. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gather into a ball. Knead the dough briefly until smooth, about 30 seconds.
3. Shape the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick circle. Cut biscuits into rounds or wedges (for biscuits, use a biscuit cutter, for wedges, simply cut the dough circle into wedges like a pizza). Place rounds or wedges on parchment-lined baking sheet. (The baking sheet can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 hours.) Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking (although I never do this step and they turn out just fine).