My great-grandmother makes the best biscuits I’ve ever tasted in my life. They are always insanely flaky, buttery and light. Making biscuits reminds me of being in her kitchen, watching her eyeball the ingredients and patiently wait for the pans to be ready to go from the oven to the table.
While biscuits and gravy are quite delicious, I’ve always been more fond of biscuits with butter and preserves. The plum tree on my property produced pounds of plums which were perfect for jam to spoon onto freshly baked biscuits. Hints of sage and ginger give the jam a non-traditional flavor that’s great on sweet and savory dishes.
I loved the idea of having hot-out-of-the-oven biscuits drenched in plum jam and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. I had been wanting to try my hand at coconut whipped cream since I first had it on a vegan molten cake at Hot Cakes in Ballard. Here are my words to the wise on the whipped cream: try to buy a can of really dense, full fat coconut cream without guar gum (because guar gum makes the whipped cream separate, which we don’t want!). When you go to buy the coconut cream, shake it in the store and buy the can that is the least sloshy and then place it in the refrigerator once you get home. To make really thick whipped cream, remove the top layer of cream that will look like hardened, cloudy coconut oil. I made coconut whipped cream with the entire can twice before I found out that trick. If you incorporate the watery portion under the cream layer, your results will be more of a cool whip consistency.
The biscuits themselves are not technically very difficult to make. Once you understand a few basic rules, it’s hard to really mess them up to the point that they are inedible. The first biscuit principle: the butter needs to be cold. I buy butter in bulk and keep extra sticks in the freezer, so whenever I make biscuits I always grab a frozen stick. Using a refrigerated stick will still work, but the warmer the butter is, the less flaky your biscuits will be. Depending on how hot it is in your kitchen, refrigerated butter can warm up pretty quickly and frozen will stay cooler for longer.
The next important biscuit tip is to fully incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients. The butter can be cut into small segments before placing in the bowl to help with this. Using a food processor, pastry blender or fork, the butter should be mashed until it is in tiny clumps which will ensure that you have buttery goodness in every bite.
The last biscuit tip is not to overwork the dough. Mix the milk in until the dry ingredients are incorporated and then stop stirring. The more the dough is stirred, the less light and pillowy the biscuits will be. All in all, the prep time for these biscuits should take about 5-10 minutes.
To be honest, I’ve never made pretty, rolled biscuits that are perfectly round. My great-grandmother has always made drop biscuits, and I really can’t argue with the ease and simplicity of them. After the dough is made, they just go in uniform sized balls onto a baking sheet or in a cast iron skillet. Whether spaced out or placed closely together, they will do their thing and don’t require much fuss. Brushing melted butter on the top of the uncooked biscuits before placing them in the oven is an optional step that my great-grandmother always does.
The jam for the biscuits can be made days in advance, or before you start on the biscuits. If you have a fine mesh colander, the plums can be cooked whole before the resulting jam is drained from the pits and skin. Don’t have anything fine enough to strain the pits and skin? No problem! Just cut the pits out prior to making the jam. The skin should become tender and incorporated during the cooking.
Drop Biscuits Yields 6-8 medium sized biscuits
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (sub GF flour if necessary–results are similar to gluten flour)
- 1 stick butter, cold
- 1 cup milk, buttermilk or milk alternative
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl until combined.
- Cut stick of butter into small pieces and combine with dry ingredients with a food processor, pastry blender or fork. Continue to mash the butter until it is in very small chunks and well incorporated with the dry ingredients.
- Add buttermilk or milk and lightly stir until all ingredients are combined and a wet, sticky dough is formed.
- On a baking sheet or in a cast iron skillet, drop uniformly shaped balls of dough.
- Bake until golden brown, approximately 15-20 minutes.
Ginger & Sage Plum Jam Yields 3 cups
- 2 pounds plums
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Ginger and sage (fresh or dried) to taste
- If straining the jam, place all ingredients in a pan over medium-high heat then cover. If not straining, remove pits first.
- Stir jam occasionally until the plums get juicy and a gentle boil occurs.
- Lower heat to simmer and cook until plums are tender and the jam has a jelly consistency, approximately 30 minutes.
- Strain pits and skin with a mesh colander if necessary.
Coconut Whipped Cream Yields 2-3 cups
- 1 can full fat coconut milk (without guar gum), chilled
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- Open can of chilled coconut milk and remove the cloudy, solid layer of coconut cream on top. Place in bowl, which can also be chilled for maximum results.
- Blend the coconut cream with powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.
To finish, top a warm biscuit with a generous spoonful of jam and a dollop of coconut whipped cream!
A very special thanks to Brittany J. Reid Photography for the photos in this post, and (as always) for tasting my zany flavor combinations.