I eat a lot of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries – not to mention other berries – during the summer when they are at their peak. Shortcakes are one of my favorite berry desserts to serve when my kitchen is full of them. They’re much easier to make then elaborate layer cakes or even cupcakes, and they allow fresh berries to shine because berries are always the star of a shortcake dessert. Great berries are key, but the shortcake itself needs to be perfect in order to take the dessert from tasty to unforgettable. These Easy Cream Shortcake Biscuits are very simple to make and they are the perfect background for any type of berry or filling that you might want to stuff into a shortcake.
The biscuits are made with just a few ingredients, and have a soft, tender crumb that is idea; for absorbing the juices from sliced berries. The biscuit dough comes together very quickly because this dough doesn’t use any butter. Instead, all of the fat comes from heavy cream. The biscuits are slightly sweet and have the flavor of fresh cream and vanilla. It’s a great backdrop to just about any filling, whether you want go go with grilled peaches, yogurt whipped cream or just fresh berries. The cream, of course, is very rich and it is tempting to try to replace it with some lower fat milk or dairy, but don’t forget that there is no butter or other added fat in these biscuits. The heavy cream is what makes the biscuits so moist and tender, and the results just won’t be quite as delicious with low fat or even with whole milk.
The dough for these biscuits is fairly stiff, which makes it perfect for rolling out and cutting with a biscuit cutter or other cookie cutter. As it comes together, I usually knead it with my hands for the last minute or so, to ensure that everything is evenly incorporated. If your dough seems a little bit dry – and the consistency can change depending on the weather conditions where you live – you can add in a couple of teaspoons of additional cream to bring it together. The dough should be only slightly sticky when finished. I find that I don’t always need to flour my work surface when I roll out the dough, but a lightly dusting of flour will ensure that nothing sticks.
The biscuits are best on the day that they are made, but they do keep quite well for a day or two after baking when stored in an airtight container. I find that I rarely have leftovers, and the biscuits are so easy to make that I never need to make them too far ahead. After baking, simply allow the biscuits to cool completely on a wire rack, then slice and fill. For a little variety, you could easy add some ground spices or citrus zest to the biscuit dough when mixing it up, too.
Cream Shortcake Biscuits
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine cream and vanilla extract. Pour cream mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until the dough starts to come together. When the dough has mostly come together into a coarse ball, gently knead it with your hands to bring in any scraps. If dough is too dry or crumbly, add in a few additional teaspoons of heavy cream.
When dough comes together and is fairly smooth, turn out onto the counter or another flat surface (lightly floured, if needed), and roll dough until it is about 3/4-inch thick. Cut 3-inch rounds with a round biscuit/cookie cutter, then press the remaining dough together and repeat.
Place dough rounds onto prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with a teaspoon or two of heavy cream.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, until biscuits are golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.
Makes 6 shortcakes.