These biscuits have been baking in our Vermont kitchen all winter. I stumbled upon the recipe while experimenting for an event I catered back in December and have been making them weekly for my family ever since. Not only are they tender and flaky, delicious served alongside a big Smithfield ham or a steaming pot of soup but they can also be prepared, frozen, and then baked to perfection just ten minutes before serving. The result: in no time (on a weeknight, for a spur of the moment snack, for entertaining, to accompany you on a mid-winter snow tea party!), the real thing- – biscuits that are pillowy, that puff up off the baking sheet, and turn golden brown on top.
As you might imagine, this is a boon for someone hired to serve a meal as it’s imperative to have as much of the work done ahead as possible. There’s no time to be working gently with pastry dough, for rolling it out, or for cleaning up the dusty mess that settles everywhere just as guests are arriving. At that point it’s show time and the cardinal rule of professional cooks is “Never Let Them See You Prep” so these served my catering purposes perfectly. I was able to – calmly and neatly – pop a sheet of twenty-four of these homemade frozen biscuits into the oven and then serve them effortlessly alongside the Baked Virginia Ham, Mixed Green Pomegranate Salad ( Fork on the Road December 2012), Potato, Cheddar and Garlic Gratin, and a Local Cheese Platter. It was a delicious menu, a lovely holiday evening, and the beginning of a beautiful biscuit friendship. I hope that they warm up and improve the flavor of your winter as much as they have ours.
The Best, Flakiest, Most Tender of Biscuits for a Vermont Winter
Many thanks to Bakewell Cream for the heirloom recipe below. They’ve been making their incredible “Bakewell Cream” product in Hamden, Maine for over sixty years and I’m convinced this cream of tartar-like product is the secret to delicious North Country biscuits. If you can’t find any in your local grocery store, order it online. I source mine at King Arthur Flour and though it may seem expensive for an 8oz jar, it lasts quite a long time. As I mentioned above, I’ve been making batches (actually, usually double batches) regularly for the past several months and still haven’t run out. And remember: you can either roll out these biscuits and pop them right into a 475 degree oven or you can freeze the pre-cut dough and bake as needed. If baking them from the frozen state, simply follow the heating instructions below but bake them for 8 minutes and then turn the oven off and leave them in the oven for another 5-8 minutes until perfectly golden brown. So very, very good with soup on a Vermont winter’s night.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 10- 15 Minutes
Yields: 2 Dozen, 2″ inch biscuits
4 Cups Unbleached, All Purpose Flour, preferably King Arthur brand
4 teaspoons Original Bakewell Cream (NOT Bakewell Cream Baking Powder)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons cold butter
1 1/2 cups cold milk
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add butter and mix with a pastry blender, making sure that the mixture is crumbly, with some pea shaped and some coin like pieces of butter remaining. Pour in the milk and stir until the liquid is incorporated (add a little bit more milk if needed, if the mixture seems too dry). For tips about how to work with butter in flaky pastry, refer to the Fork on the Road blog for Whole Wheat Maple Scones.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape with your hands into a large, round disc. Then roll it or pat it out until it is 1/2″-3/4″ thick. Cut the biscuits with a round biscuit cutter or even the rim of a cup (I use a 2″ round cutter which yields a little more than two dozen biscuits – if your tool of choice is a square cutter then shape your dough into a rectangle to eliminate waste when cutting).
Bake at 475 degrees for five minutes. Then, leave the biscuits in the oven for an additional five to ten minutes or until they’re golden brown.