“The All-American Biscuit” according to a primarily Urban classically trained French Pastry Chef.
Lets start off with the difference between Biscuits and Shortcakes. Shortcakes are usually made with vegetable fat (think Shortening), have the addition of sugar in the actual dough, and are topped with sugar before baking. Creating a caramelized sugary crust. I find sometimes they end up dense and can be a bit sweet when you add sweet cream and ripe strawberries.
The use of Biscuit dough rather than a sweeter Shortcake dough is becoming more popular, and quite frankly I’m into it. If you miss the sugary crust you can always top your biscuit with sugar rather than salt in the following recipe.
I typically prefer a folded Biscuit vs. Drop Biscuits, so typically I use the following recipe and method. With that being said, I do love experimented and trying new recipes so watch out for new and improved methods in the future.
Be prepared to use your hands and have a clean work space for your dough. I believe mixing shortcakes by hand is the best way to mix your dough. Whenever I’ve tried to mix biscuit dough with a machine (especially in mass quantities), I’ve ended up with lower quality biscuits.*
Buttermilk Shortcakes (Biscuits)
2 1/4 Cups (290g) All Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Stick (114 g) Butter (Frozen)
2 1/4 Cup (290g) Buttermilk
-Scale dry ingredients.
-Mix the dry ingredients on a sanitized work space.
-Create a “well” and grate the frozen (with a cheese grater) butter into the center of the dry ingredients.
I don’t have a cheese grater at home, but I used a perforated spoon to grate my butter and it worked.
You want the butter to be as cold as possible especially when mixing and folding the dough by hand. Which is why I make sure to scale the dry first. (You can always grate the butter and refrigerate it while you scale the dry, but that does involve more planning than I desire for home baking.)
-Add the Buttermilk and mix the ingredients together starting at the center and incorporating the dry ingredients from the outer circle.
Be sure to try and use your finger tips rather than the palm of your hand. I have a bad case of hot hands and have made a career of avoiding the use of my entire hand in delicate situations. I know its awkward at first but trust me its worth it.
-Fold the dough as you would fold a book at least 4 times before rolling the dough out to the desired thickness. I like my biscuits thick, so I aim for an inch and a half.
-Cut Biscuits with a 2 inch cutter, if you don’t have cutters. The average circumference of a glass is 2 1/2 inches, or even the lid to pam spray works. Basically any circular hollow household object (once cleaned and sanitized) will do.
-Brush with Cream and top with Salt.
I don’t specify salt in the ingredient list simply because what ever you have lying around at home should work. Running out and buying a specific type of salt and having it lie around the house seems so unnecessary. I used a thicker variety of sea salt, Maldon Salt is ideal because it is definitely more attractive. Just keep in mind the finer the grain of salt the more pronounced saltiness, so sprinkle according to your taste.
-Line a sheet tray with parchment paper, or grease your go-to cast iron pan.
-Bake at 425F for 15 to 20 minutes depending on your oven.
*English (UK) Biscuits or Scones do work well with the help of various appliances.
When I am making my shortcakes, you best believe theres a biscuit in my mouth already. Fresh out of the oven EVERYTHING is always better.
You are not ready for the glutton that is my Short cakes.
-Cut the biscuits intended for Strawberry Shortcakes in half.
-Butter each side.
-Add whipped Cream. I usually do a Tablespoon of Powdered Sugar per cup of Heavy Whipping Cream, but trust your tastes and judgement.
-I also added Lavender Orange Marmalade, your favorite jam or whatever you have lying around the house works.
-Quartered Fresh Strawberries.
I do not like macerated strawberries with my Shortcakes. If you are using perfectly ripe Strawberries there is no need. There’s a time and a place for macerated strawberries, just not in my biscuits!
Pictured above are Harrys Berries Strawberries. My all-time favorite strawberries grown in California, which is a special treat in New York.