The Best Biscuits for Strawberry Shortcake

 

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One of the most fun things about being a home cook is tinkering with favourite recipes, trying to achieve perfection. And when the main ingredient is Ontario strawberries, which are perfect this year, you want to leave no stone unturned in your search for the perfect shortcake recipe.

Look no further than Angel Biscuits, a recipe developed in the nineteen twenties by the White Lily Flour Company in Knoxville TN. White Lilly uses soft winter wheat for their biscuits, flour that has a slightly lower gluten and protein percentage. Tipo “00” is a softwheat flour works beautifully for these biscuits too, in fact none other than Ruth Reichl uses 00 flour her for biscuits too. All-purpose flour also works wonderfully with this recipe as well, so don’t fret if you don’t have any 00 flour on hand.

 

one of the three 00 flours sold at Fiesta Farms

one of the three 00 flours sold at Fiesta Farms

 

But the thing that sets angel biscuits apart from their baking powder cousins is yeast; angel biscuits use baking powder, soda and yeast as the leavening agents, resulting in a biscuit that is perfect for shortcake, delicate but sturdy enough to hold its shape, airy soft in the middle with a satisfyingly crisp top. Actually, these biscuits are perfect for anything, really, biscuits and gravy, with your favourite jams and jellies used for breakfast egg sandwiches. Because yeast is used, they take a little longer to prepare, so they are not really a last minute thing as you will need to set aside about an hour to let dough rise.

For the strawberries and cream, we like to use the recipe in the Chez Piggy Cookbook that features simple macerated strawberries and brandied cream, a simple but magical mix of whipped cream folded into sour cream, brandy and sugar. To macerate the strawberries, simply slice your strawberries thin or use an egg slicer to get perfect slices, add desired amount of sugar and let sit for at least an hour.

 

an egg slicer is perfect for ripe strawberries!

an egg slicer is perfect for ripe strawberries!

 

Completely indulgent, yes, but the three players,- angel biscuits shortcake, strawberries and cream- come together in such perfect three-part harmony that you will scarcely believe such perfection is possible.

 

Angel Biscuits –makes approximately 20 biscuits

1 pkg (2 ¼ tsp) yeast

1 tsp sugar

3 cups flour  (if using 00 flour, use slightly less buttermilk, around 3/4 cup)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

¼ cup lard or veg shortening- cold

¼ lb butter- cold

1 cup buttermilk or ½ cup milk + ½ cup yogurt

Stir yeast and sugar in a large bowl. Add ¼ cup warm water and let proof til double in size. Meanwhile sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in another bowl. Cut lard/shortening and butter into small pieces and add to flour blend and have at it with a pastry blender until the texture is like cornmeal. Add buttermilk to the yeast and pour this into the flour, mixing gently with a spoon until the dough comes together. Cover with a towel and set aside for an hour. After 1 hour, pre-heat oven to 425 F. Turn dough out onto a floured countertop and kneed a few times. Do not overwork the dough; flatten it to about ¾ inch, then fold it over on top of itself. Repeat, finishing with a slab of dough that is roughly ¾ to 1 inch thick. Use a 2” round cookie cutter to cut out biscuits and place on a lightly buttered baking sheet. Bake for 18 minutes, turning the sheet at the halfway point. Remove from oven and transfer biscuits to a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature.

 

this is also a great recipe for breakfast too!

this is also a great recipe for breakfast too!

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