I'm Elyse. Some of my most vivid and cherished memories are around a table with friends and family, and I want that for you, too.
What are you in the
Can I tell you a secret? I have a weird complex about my hands. Far from dainty and dextrous, my hands are basically sausages attached to hot palms. I’m talking sweaty-when-held, melt-every-piece-of gumpaste-I-come-across, hot. I’ve come to learn that this is neither a normal nor a welcomed phenomenon in the baking world. There are so many baked goods that require very precise temperature control, so when I would see a recipe calling for ‘combining cold butter’ into anything, my heart would drop. The second my hands touched it, the butter would melt, and the prospect of flakey pastry would melt with it. But, I am nothing if not tenacious (stubborn), so I found ways to work around these meat paws of mine.
Biscuits are one of those baked goods that require you to work cold fat into your dry ingredients…my nemesis. But, I’ve come up with a few tricks to ensure that everything stays cold, which leads to a flakey and tender biscuit.
How to Make Flakey, Tender Biscuits
First of all, let’s address the elephant in the room. I’m using heavy cream instead of buttermilk. It adds extra fat, which to me is a no-brainer, since it creates a truly decadent biscuit. We are curdling the cream with apple cider vinegar to mimic the tang of buttermilk and activate the baking soda.
There are three ways I have found to work in the cream and butter to make certain everything stays cold: grating, dicing, and refrigerator breaks. If you know you are going to make biscuits, pop the full sticks of butter into the freezer an hour or two before you start. Then, grate the frozen butter into a bowl and put the grated pieces in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake. If you haven’t preplanned your biscuit baking, never fear. Simply dice your butter into small pieces before you assemble any of your other ingredients and let the pieces hang out in the freezer until you’re ready. As for the cream, once you combine it with the vinegar, pop the bowl in the refrigerator until you need it.
Once you have added your butter and cream, you want to handle the dough as minimally as possible while making sure there isn’t too much loose flour left behind. Because my hands are so warm, I really like using a bench scraper to act as one of my hands when patting my dough into a rectangle.
Flakey biscuits with beautiful layers happen thanks to that butter we worked so hard to keep cold. To further ensure those layers, I split my dough into four rectangles, stack them on top of each other, and then smash the whole thing down before cutting out the biscuits.
Two aesthetic tips: One, if you want a shiny top, scramble an egg in a bowl and brush it onto the biscuits. Second, these biscuits bake best when they are close to each other on the sheet pan. Too much space and they will rise unevenly, which won’t affect the taste at all, but can make it challenging to use these for sandwiches. I love these biscuits on their own, but there are tons of other ways to eat ‘em, including with butter and honey, as a breakfast sandwich, or for strawberry shortcakes. Enjoy!
Flakey, tender, and ridiculously rich, these biscuits are perfect for breakfast sandos, slathered in honey and butter, or eaten solo.
1 3/4C heavy cream
1T + 1t apple cider vinegar
4C all-purpose flour
1T + 1t baking powder
2 1/4t kosher salt
2t granulated sugar
1t baking soda
1C unsalted butter, cold and either diced or grated (see note above)
Preheat your oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, stir together the heavy cream and vinegar. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and baking soda.
Add the butter and begin working it into the flour with your hands until you are left with pea-sized pieces. (If you are using grated butter, gently work it in and give the pieces gentle squeezes, so all the pieces are coated in flour.)
Make a well in the center of the flour and add the heavy cream mixture. Using a spatula, begin incorporating the cream.
Once you have a shaggy mess, dump it onto a clean surface. Use your hands to pile your mess into a mountain and then the palms of your hands to press it down. Do this two or three times, or until you don’t have much loose, unhydrated flour.
Pat your dough into a rectangle about 1″ thick. Cut the rectangle into 4 sections and then stack these sections on top of each other. Smash the whole thing down until you have a 1″ thick rectangle again.
Use a 3″ cookie cutter to stamp out the biscuits (I have a small plate of flour on the side to dip my cutter in). Pat together any scrap pieces to recut.
Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper. Set your biscuits close to each other and pop them in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
Let the biscuits cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and enjoy them right away. These biscuits can keep tightly wrapped for about a day or two, but they really are the best the day they are made.