A mix of faith, magic, and technique is needed to make biscuits. After using your hands to pull together the dough, you fight through a stage where you feel like scrapping the entire mess, and before you know it, your dough becomes smooth and the oven makes them rise tall and gorgeous. Sweeter than most biscuits, these biscuits are supposed to be shortcakes topped with cream and berries. (Savory biscuits can be achieved by using only 1 teaspoon of sugar, and leaving out the citrus zest.) Typically best fresh from the oven, this little trick allows you to make perfectly delicious biscuits whenever desired: Take your cut-out dough, freeze – when you want to bake, allow the pucks to sit at room temperature and warm up while the oven is preheating. When baking, observe them and allow an extra 1-2 minutes of baking if required.
For the saucy berries:
- 1 hibiscus tea bag (such as Red Zinger)
- ⅓ cup (80 ml.) boiling water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 fat strip orange, lemon or lime zest
- 1 pound (about 25) strawberries (hull and chop coarsely)
For the biscuits:
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange, lemon or lime
- 2 cups (272 grams) flour (all-purpose)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) very cold butter, unsalted (cut into small pieces)
- ¾ cup cold buttermilk
For the topping:
- 1 pound (roughly 25) strawberries (hull, halve from top to bottom)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup (240 ml.) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Nutritional analysis per serving (10 servings):
317 calories; 4 grams protein;16 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 4 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 0 grams polyunsaturated fat; 38 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 15 grams sugars; 52 milligrams cholesterol; 303 milligrams sodium
The information shown is only an estimate based on the available ingredients and specified preparation. This should not take the place of a professional nutritionist’s advice.
- Making the saucy berries: In boiling water, steep your tea bag for approx. 5 minutes, then pour your tea into a medium pot. Mix in the sugar, berries, zest, and cook while stirring until the berries have softened, and the syrup exuberantly bubbles – approx. 5 minutes. Scrape into a bowl, throw away the zest, and allow to cool as you make the biscuits.
- Making the biscuits: Heat oven to 400, and line a baking sheet with parchment/baking paper.
- In a large bowl place the sugar and zest. Between your fingertips, rub the zest and sugar until the sugar is aromatic and moist. Add the dry ingredients, and use a fork to stir and blend. Add your butter, toss around with fingers until well coated, then pinch and press until you have pea-sized pieces of butter, and flakes akin to oatmeal. Making a well in the center, pour in cold buttermilk, using a fork to turn and stir until the dough forms clumps and moist curds. You may find some dry crumbs remain at the bottom of the bowl, but don’t fret about these now. Using your hands, knead gently, making sure to fold the dough onto itself roughly 8 times until a ball forms.
- Dust your work surface with flour, turn out your dough, dust its top, and roll until ½ inch thick. Don’t fret about shape and size. Take a 2 – 2 ½ inch biscuit cutter (or another cutter if preferred), and cut rounds as close as possible to one another. Use a quick up and down cutting motion – if the cutter is twisted, the flakiness and rise of the biscuit will be impeded. Place on the baking sheet with roughly 2 inches between them. Take your scraps, reroll, and cut out more biscuits. These scraps may not rise as well as the first round, but that’s okay.
- Bake biscuits for 16-18 minutes, until tall and golden – transfer to a rack to cool. When warm, or at room temperature, the biscuits are ready to be used.
- Making the topping: Toss the berries & sugar together. Leave on the counter, stirring every so often, while you whip the cream. Use a mixer to beat the cream until it starts to thicken, then whip in the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar. Make sure not to overbeat – soft cream is ideal.
- Assembly: Pull each biscuit apart along its natural flake line and arrange the bottoms on plates. Top each with a spoonful of saucy berries, sugared berries, and cream. You can decide what to do with the remaining half of each biscuit: Place at an angle on top of each shortcake, lean up against the shortcake, use it to make another shortcake, or set aside to toast in the morning.