Wednesday, June 6, 2012

strawberries and cream biscuits

strawberry and cream biscuits

Did you go strawberry picking last weekend? Did you haul home too many and they are disintegrating faster than you are able to can, preserve, or pluck them individually into your mouth? Do you have strawberry-stained fingers and toddlers? Boy, do I have a treat for you.

hello, strawberries! you were missed.
drying the strawberries

It’s like a strawberry shortcake, stuffed inside a single cake. No wait, it’s a strawberry and cream scone, with overripe strawberries that melt, their juices trickling free of their 2-by-1 confines, as they bake. It’s a mistake, a terrible, terrible mistake, this stuffing of fresh, unstructured berries inside a structured baked good; it might make a red puddled mess around each, like sweet, innocent biscuits got lost on the set of a trashy vampire movie. That can’t be right, can it? Shouldn’t a scone be a tidier thing?

chopped


overripe berries
stirring in the cream
strawberry-specked dough

I thought long and hard about this when I made these what I confess to be a year ago. A whole year I’ve known you could do this — make a happy mess with berries and cream, all in the name of breakfast — and I didn’t tell you. I was just fiddling around. I didn’t think anyone would actually care about such a mash smash-up. And then yesterday morning, I was trying to do some spring cleaning on my hard drive, which is understandably groaning under the weight of 1000+ photos I shot for the book and everything you’ve seen here since, and I saw these and I realized I missed them very much. That they were such a fun way to start a weekend morning; you should have a chance to do the same.

ready to bake
strawberry cream biscuits
strawberry and cream biscuits

One year ago: Roasted Peppers with Capers and Mozarella
Two years ago: Lamb Chops with Pistachio Tapenade
Three years ago: Lemon Mint Granita and Pickled Sugar Snap Peas
Four years ago: S’More Pie and Jim Lahey’s Potato Pizza
Five years ago: Black Bottom Cupcakes and Spring Vegetable Stew

Strawberries and Cream Biscuits

Last year, I shared a cake in which strawberries would ideally almost melt into the batter, leaving jammy puddles in their wake. Needless to say, that inspired these. What I learned from the comments is that baked goods like this — where you want the strawberries to almost melt — really work best with the more fragile berries you’d pick yourself or get at a farmers market, preferably when they’re almost or actually overripe. Grocery store strawberries — firmer stock, designed for long-distance shipping — will also be delicious here, but they’re less likely to melt and trickle.

2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold, unsalted butter
1 cup (about 130 grams) chopped very ripe strawberries (I quarter small or medium ones and further chop larger ones)
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bottom of a large, wide-ish bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together. Add butter, either by cutting it in with two knives or a pastry blender (alternatively, you can freeze the butter and grate it in on the large holes of a box grater; a tip I learned from you guys) cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, breaking it up until the mixture resembles a crumbly meal with tiny pea-sized bits of butter about. Gently stir in the strawberries, so that they are coated in dry ingredient, then stir in heavy cream. (I like to use a rubber spatula to gently lift and turn the ingredients over each other.) When you’ve mixed it in as best as you can with the spatula, go ahead and knead it once or twice in the bowl, to create one mass. Do not worry about getting the dough evenly mixed. It’s far more important that the dough is not overworked.

Generously flour your counter. With as few movements as possible, transfer your dough to the counter, generously flour the top of it and with your hands or a rolling pin, gently roll or press the dough out to a 3/4-inch thickness. Cut into 2 1/2-inch circles with a floured biscuit cutter or top edge of a drinking glass, pressing straight down and not twisting (this makes for nice layered edges) as you cut. Carefully transfer scones to prepared baking sheet, leaving a couple inches between each.

You can re-roll the scraps of dough, but don’t freak out over how wet the dough becomes as the strawberries have had more time to release their juice. They’ll still bake up wonderfully.

Bake the scones for 12 to 15 minutes, until bronzed at the edges and the strawberry juices are trickling out of the biscuits in places. Cool in pan for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Do ahead: Biscuits are generally best the day they are baked. However, if you wish to get a lead on them, you can make them, arrange them on your parchment-lined sheet and freeze them. If you’re prepping just one day in advance, cover the tray with plastic wrap and bake them the day you need them. If you’re preparing them more than one day in advance, once they are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container. Bring them back to a parchment-lined sheet when you’re ready to bake them. No need to defrost the froze, unbaked scones, just add 2 to 3 minutes to your baking time.


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