Easy biscuits for shortcake: It's (not all about) the berries

“You’re kidding.”

That was the dominant crowd reaction at a recent shortcake demo I gave.

“That’s ALL that’s in those biscuits?”

That’s right: the short list of ingredients in these biscuits is vanilla, sugar, cream, and… My New Best Friend in the Kitchen.

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Actually, make that either of my TWO NBFs in the kitchen: Self-Rising Flour, and All-Purpose Baking Mix.

Both of these lower-protein flour blends are ideal for a whole range of baked treats, from pancakes and biscuits to cookies, cake, muffins, and quick breads (think banana bread).

Self-rising flour includes both salt and baking powder, making it quick and convenient to use. Baking mix is SR flour and then some: in addition to the salt and leavener, it has some dried buttermilk, a bit of shortening, a touch of sugar – in other words, it’s a bit more “complete” than self-rising flour, making it a great all-purpose baking MIX (rather than a simple flour blend).

At any rate, I’ve been using the two interchangeably lately to make biscuits for shortcake.

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Strawberry season is upon us, in all its bright-red, juicy/sweet glory.

And what simpler way to go one step beyond plain fresh berries than to pair them with quick and easy (just two ingredients) warm biscuits?

That’s right – just two ingredients. The simple addition of heavy cream (sugar and vanilla are optional, though tasty) to either self-rising flour or baking mix makes absolutely fail-safe tasty, golden biscuits.

Are you a biscuit wannabe who’s never quite hit on the right formula? Try these Cream Biscuits; you’ll never go back to traditional butter-and-milk biscuits again.

Preheat the oven to 425°F; move a rack to the top third of the oven.

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Whisk together 2 cups (8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour or King Arthur All-Purpose Baking Mix and 2 tablespoons sugar. (Don’t have either SR flour or baking mix? See the substitution tip at the end of this post.)

Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 cup heavy or whipping cream (for self-rising flour), or 3/4 cup cream (for baking mix). There may be a bit of dry flour left in the bottom of the bowl; stir in additional cream or milk until all the flour is moistened.

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Turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface, sprinkle flour on top of the dough, and fold it over several times.

Now, you can simply break off balls of dough (or scoop balls with a cookie scoop), and set them on a baking sheet. But for perfectly round, flat-topped biscuits, you’ll want to take the time to cut biscuits with a cutter.

Pat the dough into a 6″ to 7″ circle about 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick. Use a sharp biscuit cutter (2″ is a good size) to cut rounds. Don’t twist the cutter as you cut; simply press down firmly (though also gently when you reach the bottom, if you’re cutting on a silicone mat as I am here). If the cutter starts to stick, dip it in flour.

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And why do you want to use a sharp biscuit cutter (rather than a drinking glass), and cut straight down, rather than twisting? The cleaner the cut (i.e., no pressed-down edges), the taller the biscuits will rise as they bake.

Cut the rounds as close together as possible; biscuits cut on the initial go-around will be more tender than those cut after you’ve gathered and re-rolled any dough scraps.

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Unless you simply pat the dough into a square and cut square biscuits, you WILL end up with some leftover scraps. Gently pile them atop one another, gently press together, and cut additional biscuits.

The tops of biscuits cut from scraps will be a little rough, but no worries; no one is going to spend time scrutinizing the biscuits’ tops once they’re turned into shortcake.

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Brush each biscuit with some melted butter (or milk, or cream), and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired.

I always desire. There’s nothing like coarse sparkling sugar to brighten up what might otherwise be a plain-jane biscuit.

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Place the biscuits on an ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake them for 12 to 16 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown.

Remove the biscuits from the oven, and cool them right on the pan, or on a rack.

Now – on to shortcake.

 

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OK, you caught me – I ran out of cream to whip, so I used the squirt-from-a-can stuff. OK in a pinch; but the thick, dense-yet-light texture of “real” whipped cream just isn’t there.

Anyway, here’s the shortcake process I like to follow.

Split the biscuits. If they’re still warm, gild the lily by spreading each of the bottom halves with a bit of butter.

Add a dollop of whipped cream, then the fruit of your choice. I’m using fresh blueberries and raspberries here; there’s more to shortcake than strawberries, you know! Another dollop of whipped cream atop the berries is followed by the biscuit top.

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Like this. Add a fork, and off you go.

Some choose to add yet more whipped cream on top. And if your biscuits are pale or not as attractive as they might be, this is certainly an option.

But I happen to like the flavor and texture of an old-fashioned baking powder biscuit – especially one made with heavy cream. So I skip the extra cream, and let the biscuit shine.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Cream Biscuits.

Print just the recipe.

Don’t have self-rising flour? Try our recipe for David Lee’s Biscuits, Perfect for Shortcake using all-purpose flour.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Joan nutter

    I have gluten free all purpose baking mix by KAF. I need to make shortcake biscuits quick and easy. If I use 3/4 cup milk instead of cream and also vanilla and no butter will that give me a good biscuit?
    I have only made these with bisquick in the past.🤓
    Thanks,
    Joan

    Reply
  2. Joni

    I am eager to try these for a Valentine banquet strawberry shortcake bar. Question: Is it possible to freeze the unbaked biscuits and bake them fresh at a later date?

    Thank you for the recipe.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Joni–I like the sound of a Valentine’s Day Shortcake Banquet! You can certainly able to freeze the unbaked biscuits and then bake them the day of the event. Follow your recipe and make your dough and shape them into biscuits. Place unbaked biscuits on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and freeze unbaked biscuits until fully frozen. Once they are frozen, store the biscuits in a freezer bag or container for up to three months. When ready you are ready to bake them, take out desired amount and bake as directed while adding 2-3 minutes to cooking time. Good luck Joni and happy baking! Kye@KAF

  3. Susie in Connecticut

    I put these together in 25 minutes for Father’s Day dinner tonight. What a hit. Thankfully I had the KAF self-rising flour and sparkling sugar on hand – and fresh local berries. Thank you for a great recipe.

    Reply
  4. Quodlibet

    Since I discovered the ease of making cream biscuits years ago, I’ve never gone back to the messy, hurts-my-thumb process of cutting in butter. Cream biscuits are just as light and fluffy, and rise just as high, as their buttery counterparts. I add a pinch more salt to make up for not using salted butter.

    Try using cutters other than round ones, as I did recently:

    http://quodlibet-sarah.blogspot.com/2013/03/cream-biscuits.html

    Here you’ll also see my solution for the scraps – the whole family loves them, and they are the first to be eaten – they rarely even make it to the table!

    Nice post and pictures that will inspire other bakers to go beyond the traditional biscuit rounds. Cream biscuits, whether scraps or designs do just melt in your mouth – Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

    Reply
  5. erinhibshman

    I love making your recipe for cream biscuits! So simple and so delicious! The recipe is also easy to halve if you don’t need the temptation of a full batch around… 🙂 Strawberry season is winding down in PA, hopefully I can make one last strawberry shortcake before the blueberries appear…

    Reply

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