Friday, June 30, 2006
An embarrassment of (summer) riches...
Fruit, glorious, fruit! It's everywhere! We have leftover blueberries, plums, pluots and nectarines from the the fruit tart last weekend, there are leftover strawberries from the jam-making (if you can believe it), and there are peaches because....well, they are in season, and they are darn good this year. Even my dear friend, Rob, in Ohio told me today that he had just made, not one, but THREE strawberry-rhubarb pies! Now you must understand what an amazing feat this is, as Rob's motto is normally, "It's better to know someone who bakes pies than to bake them yourself." I'm not sure if I can claim any credit for this development, but I want to believe that I am spreading the gospel of pie and, in some small way, making the world a better (certainly, sweeter!) place. ;-)
But what to do with all these lingering fruits before they turn on us? King Arthur to the rescue! I don't know if the rest of you are on KA's mailing list, but I just received the most wonderful recipe in their e-mail newsletter for what they're calling Honey Shortcake Biscuits. LORD--EE, are they good! I made them with just AP flour, but you can also try the whole wheat version that I bet would be toothsome and delicious. Also, I thought I'd like my shortcakes a bit sweeter, so I added an extra three tablespoons of granulated sugar to my dough. Of course, I used buttermilk because I am still in my Buttermilk Period. And I baked them on Silpat-lined sheet pans. I did glaze them, and I encourage you to do the same, even if you don't have the Fiori di Sicilia--just use the vanilla by itself or with a little orange extract which will mimic the Creamsicle-like flavor of Fioro de Sicilia, or you could add a few drops of butter-flavored extract or even a little almond extract in combination with the vanilla. And one final tip, eat the shortcakes warm the first day, but try toasting them the next day--YUM! And though Cool Whip will do in a pinch (oh, simmer down, food snobs--it's good, and you know it!), indulge yourself and whip up some real, slightly sweetened cream, and top the sliced biscuits with a generous pillow of soft cream and any of your favorite summer fruits. This recipe is elegant enough to serve for guests, and yet so quick and easy! I made the shortcakes the other day before work to have with dinner that night, and I never have enough time to do anything extra before work! That's how easy they were. And delectable to boot...what's not to like, as Ina would say?
HONEY SHORTCAKE BISCUITS
(Source: King Arthur Flour)
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) whole wheat flour, white or traditional
1/2 cup (2 1/8 ounces) bread flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) cold unsalted butter*
3 tablespoons (2 1/4 ounces) honey
1 large egg
3/4 cup (6 ounces) buttermilk
*Reduce salt to 1/2 teaspoon if you use salted butter.
To make biscuits using all-purpose flour: Substitute 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour for the whole wheat and bread flours. Reduce the buttermilk to 2/3 cup. (I forgot to do this, and they turned out fine...very tender.)
To make biscuits using milk, rather than buttermilk: Increase the baking powder to 1 tablespoon, and eliminate the baking soda.
Glaze (optional...but advisable!):
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons water
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda. With a pastry fork or cutter, or using an electric mixer, cut in the butter until the flour mixture is crumbly. In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and honey. Add, all at once, to the flour mixture, and blend lightly and quickly with a fork until the mixture is evenly moistened.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, and fold the dough over on itself three or four times, until it comes together. Pat the dough out (or roll very lightly with a rolling pin) into a 9" square (3/4"-thick). Cut the dough into 16 squares, and transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheet.
While this next step is optional, it gives the biscuits a lovely, shiny, tasty crust. In a small microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the glaze ingredients. The Fiori di Sicilia, while optional, will give the biscuits a lovely citrus-vanilla accent. Place the bowl in the microwave, and microwave very briefly (maybe 15 to 20 seconds), until the glaze is very hot and starting to bubble. Remove it from the microwave, give it a stir, and brush it over the biscuits.
Bake the biscuits for 20 to 22 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Remove them from the oven and serve warm, or cool on a rack. Yield: 16 biscuits.