American biscuits (and strawberry shortcakes)
Exactly 6 months ago today, I landed in Seattle with all of my belongings, ready to call this city home. Well, all of my belongings apart from the boxes still at my parent’s house and the suitcase worth of stuff I already left in Seattle after visiting my husband for Christmas – but it sounds better this way. It was a daunting prospect, but it has been such a rewarding one. I have been surrounded by a new culture, so many new ingredients, and even a new language.
One of our weekly rituals (especially now that it is summer) is going to the markets on the weekend. There are two that we frequent – one that runs on Saturdays and one on Sundays. So no matter what our weekend plans, we can always go to the market. I’m getting better at going with an open mind now – I still have to get used to shopping seasonally! Where I’m from (a subtropical environment) the availability of produce is so different. Sure, there is still stone fruit season and times of the year where tomatoes are better, but I never fully appreciated what shopping seasonally meant.
I could shop at the supermarket, but there is something that I love about shopping at local farmers' markets. To cook with what is in season makes me feel more connected to the area. That is one of the things I am trying to do here – cook with local, in season ingredients and discover the area around me. On that note, strawberries are going nuts at the moment. Trays full of gorgeous, plump, rich red berries, tempting me every time I walk through the markets – I can’t help but pick some up.
To pair with these delicious berries, I made biscuits. An American biscuit is something entirely different from what I associate with the word. To me, a biscuit is still what Americans call a ‘cookie’. This is more similar to the Australian scone (I know, it gets confusing!). When paired with softly whipped cream and fresh strawberries, it is known as a strawberry shortcake.
This biscuit recipe is from Seven Spoons by Tara O'Brady. I have included only a brief outline of the recipe here - I highly recommend you read her full recipe, it is delightful.
Biscuits (makes 12)
510g plain flour
1 ½ tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 ¼ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. castor sugar
225g cold unsalted butter
120mL buttermilk (or ½ tbsp. vinegar topped up to 120mL with full fat milk)
melted butter for brushing
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl.
Cut the cold butter into 6mm cubes and add to the flour mixture.
Press the butter into flakes, ensuring that they are always coated with flour.
Mix the yoghurt, buttermilk, and eggs together.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the liquids.
Gently combine the wet with the dry, without over mixing. Only mix until the wet ingredients are just combined.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured bench.
Bring any loose flour onto the dough and gently pat into a rough rectangle.
Fold the dough in half, turn 90 degrees and push down lightly to form a rectangle again.
Repeat until the dough is relatively smooth, and finally work into a rectangle 2cm thick.
Cut the dough into 12 squares, without any horizontal slicing (so as not to seal the edges).
Transfer the biscuits onto the baking paper, upside down.
Bake for 18 min, brushing the tops with melted butter at 16 min.
Remove the biscuits from the oven when the tops are golden brown and cool on a wire rack.
Once the biscuits have cooled slightly, lightly whip the cream.
Split each biscuit in half, top with a spoonful (or two) of cream and lots of sliced strawberries.