Strawberry Short Pucks

In a recent SAVEUR magazine article, a woman from the Southern US wrote that she was embarrassed to admit she just couldn’t make light and flaky biscuits. As I read the article, I was dumbfounded. Biscuits are so easy! I’ve never had a problem making biscuits. I learned how to make them from my mother – who, as far as I know, has never had a problem making biscuits.

Ontario strawberries are just now coming into the fruit and vegetable stores. And I couldn’t resist buying some. I adore strawberries. We decided that we would serve strawberry shortcake for dessert. And T decided that we should make a traditional biscuit. He has had trouble making biscuits the past couple of times – they have been quite dense and heavy. (I don’t know why – biscuits are so easy!!)

So we decided that I should bake the biscuits. Because they were for dessert, I used butter instead of shortening and also added a little sugar. Otherwise, the recipe was exactly the same as it always is. And… and… and… wwwwaaahhhhhh!! the dough was so soupy! But I know that biscuits are quite forgiving. So I floured the board very well and somehow managed to cut them and maneuvre the floppy discs onto the parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Into the oven they went and (well, you already know what happened because of the title of this post)… I’m doomed!

Luckily, massive amounts of whipped cream and fresh strawberries were enough of a distraction so that we managed to push the pucks down our gullets and rather enjoy the dessert.
This entry was posted in baking, cakes, pastries, cookies, etc., dessert, food & drink, whine on by .

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  • MrsBrown

    I also learned to make biscuits from my mother and then I read Laurie Colwin’s book where there is a chapter about biscuits. Her recipe is basically the same as the one I grew up with but she adds 1/4 tsp baking soda to the dry ingredients. Once my mother was visiting as I made biscuits and when she saw me putting baking soda in the dry ingredients, she said accusingly, “you didn’t learn THAT from me!” Since I’ve been putting that 1/4 tsp of baking soda in the biscuits, I’ve never had a bad batch and I’ve used butter, added sugar, used cream a couple of times and have never had any complaints. Once MrBrown complained briefly about the biscuits and we agreed that even though they were beautifully light and fluffy, they were curiously flat tasting. Yes, I had forgotten the salt.

  • Awww…your first biscuit failure! I do feel for you, but I’m amazed that you haven’t ever had a problem before now!

  • bing

    Did you knead the biscuits? I’m not sure if it’s actually called “kneading”, but I like to fold the dough ever so gently a few times, picking up extra flour, and repeating just until it shows a tiny bit of resistance. When I’ve put in too much milk, it takes several folds before it resists. The best biscuits seem to be the ones that get 3 folds.

    I usually use margarine instead of shortening, just because it’s easier to cut in, and it gives the biscuits a pretty speckled look.

    Mmmm – drool. I can’t wait for the weekend – after all this biscuit talk, I’m going to make two-cheese biscuits (extra old* cheddar and parmesan).

    * I know that for the “store brand” cheddar cheese we buy for every-day, “extra old” means 4 days old instead of 1 day old, but we live in hope …

  • ejm

    I usually knead biscuit dough for a brief time. But the dough was so soupy that I couldn’t possibly have kneaded it. I must have mismeasured big-time and/or the humidity was very high. My mother was standing watching and she was pretty sure that I had put in the right amounts – she was just as bemused as I about how slack the dough was. (She had the nerve to laugh as I somehow maneuvred the biscuits from the cutting board to the pan)

    I think it might have been that the oven temperature was too low. I lowered it because of the sugar content. I think I lowered it too much. (There may also have been too much butter in the dough.) I probably should have done drop biscuits with that dough too.

    Searching the internet, I found the following Aki’s Kitchen:

    Avoid over mixing and over handling the delicate dough; otherwise, the biscuits will be tough and flat, instead of tall and tender.

    akiskitchen.ca/recipes_helpers/biscuits/biscuits_1.html

    But then I found this on the Carbquik Recipe Troubleshooting FAQ:

    If you’re too gentle or don’t knead long enough, biscuits won’t rise.

    And from
    craftybaking.com – quickbreads – biscuits (was baking911.com):

    Don’t mix too much because you’ll cause too much gluten to be formed in the dough which will make the biscuits tough and dry when baked.

    I LOVE the internet!!

    I’m going to try adding a pinch of baking soda next time I try to redeem myself….

  • I always use a cream scone recipe for my shortcakes and have never had a problem with them.

    Biscuits–it has only been recently that I have made good biscuits. I always made good scones, and it wasn’t until I figured out that a scone was nothing but a sweet biscuit that I got over my biscuit phobia and it turned out I knew how to bake them after all.

    Here’s a link to my strawberry shortcake recipe:

    http://tigerberries.blogspot.com/2005/06/strawberries-as-god-intended.html

  • ejm

    I’ve always made good scones AND good biscuits. Now I’m afraid to try making scones too! But your recipe is very tempting, Barbara!

    The only reason I can think of for my failure is that the flour was softer than usual (and the humidity higher). I’ve been having minor to major problems with all the bread that was made with that particular bag of flour. I buy flour in 10kg bags and am mightily glad to have just finished this last bag. I don’t know if it was my imagination or not but the most recent loaves of bread made with the new bag of flour were much much better than they have been.

    Of course, baking biscuits and scones is pretty much out of the question right now. It’s revoltingly hot again.

  • Verda Radford

    I am having a problem with my sour dough biscuits. The inside is great–but the outside is hard. I am doing every thing right (I think) Can anyone help me with this problem.
    Thanks

    These are only guesses…. You could try buttering the tops of the biscuits just as they come out of the oven, Verda, and then keeping the biscuits in a basket under a cloth. The other thing you might try is lowering the oven temperature. You might also ask the people at http://www.thefreshloaf.com where there are a lot of very experienced sourdough bakers. -ejm

  • Verda Radford

    Thank you ejm, I will try everything you suggested. verda