Friday night we were heading to a friend’s for dinner and while we have a standing agreement that we don’t need to “bring anything” whenever we visit each other, I had some especially delicious in-season Ontario strawberries. I also didn’t have any eggs so making a cake was out of the question. I decided to make biscuits for shortcake because, of course I had a cheat’s semi freddo with balsamic strawberries already chilling in the freezer, and it seemed like a perfect match. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any cream or milk in the house. Clearly, grocery day was coming up.
So I improvised and while this almost always works for me in cooking it never works for me in baking. In fact, I am one of the most inconsistent and inaccurate bakers you will come across and have the disastrous to messy-yet-tasty results to prove it. Imagine my shock when not only did these biscuits work out well, they were deemed, by Mark, to be the best ones I’ve made:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Usually I would add a couple of tablespoons of sugar if I was making biscuits for desert but my final ingredient is already quite sweet so I knew (or, at the time, I hoped) this would be sufficient
5 tablespoons cold salted butter, grated into stirred dry ingredients
Mix butter in using fingers. Or a pastry cutter which I own and use when making crusts and biscuits but didn’t this time. Or two forks. Or your kids hands but often the butter starts to soften from them overworking it and being overly warm. Neither of which are ideal for fluffy biscuits; but do result in proud and accomplished kids and no more of a mess than usual. I also use salted butter because that’s what I have. And I get that this is problematic from a chemistry point of view because the water content in the butter is higher when it’s salted and the salt in the dry ingredients has other chemical purposes besides just seasoning; however, that’s what I have in the house and adding the extra 1/2 teaspoon of salt makes the biscuits too salty.
3/4 cup vanilla Activia yogurt.
Mix with hands until it comes together, making sure to get all the dry ingredients incorporated but not at the expense of ove mixing or of warming the butter pieces.
Create small balls, line them up on a Silpat on a cookie sheet and flatten a little bit by pressing with your palm.
I sprinkled some Demerara sugar on the top skipping the egg wash glaze, because again, no eggs in the house. I’ve also found in the past, that the glaze can darken the end result a lot faster or deeper then desired.
Baked on middle rack for 12minutes in my gas oven pre-heated to 425F. Pulled them out, cooled and threw them in a glass container for transport.
We served them at room temp with fresh strawberries and a scoop of the semi freddo. I would have drizzled the thinnest ribbon of aged balsamic vinegar, had I not been two bottles of Pinot into the night.
Easiest homemade dessert ever.