I'm always looking for ideas to help speed up dinner preparation, and have started experimenting with make ahead (or freeze and bake) recipes. On a recent trip home to visit my parents, I discovered my mom's copy of The Best Make-Ahead Recipe, from Cook's Illustrated. All the Cook's Illustrated recipes I've tried have turned out very well (not surprising, with all the testing they do), so I asked to borrow the cookbook and give some of the recipes a try. She also loaned me her Oprah Magazine Cookbook (thanks, Mom!).
These biscuits are very easy to prepare, especially if you use my tip for cutting them into squares (see below). I baked some right away and froze the rest. I have to be honest -I wasn't wowed by the batch I baked right away. The batch I froze and baked tonight turned out much, much better. I had a pot roast in the crockpot and put these in the oven when I got home from work - a wonderful, fast, and easy dinner for the first cold evening of fall. Keep in mind - these are cream biscuits, not the flaky type, but they are much better than purchased freezer biscuits!
6 cups (30 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for counter
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 1/2 cups heavy cream
Line baking sheet with parchment paper (may need 2 baking sheets); set aside. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the cream with a wooden spoon until a dough forms, about 30 seconds. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and gather into a ball. Knead dough briefly until smooth, about 1 minute, adding extra flour if necessary (if dough is too sticky).
Pat the dough into a 3/4-inch thick circle (or square). Cut biscuits using a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter. (Note: I like to form the dough into a square and cut square biscuits using a butter knife or pizza cutter - this eliminates scraps and the need to re-work the dough). Lay biscuits on the prepared baking sheet, spaced about 1/2 inch apart. If using a round cutter, gather scraps and re-knead them briefly to combine, then pat dough into a 3/4-inch thick circle and cut more biscuits; process can be repeated a third time. Yield: about 24 biscuits, depending on size and shape.
To bake and serve immediately: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. After cutting biscuits, spread them out over 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake biscuits one sheet at a time, 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- OR -
To freeze: Wrap the baking sheet tightly with greased plastic wrap (or ungreased press-n-seal) and freeze until biscuits are solid, about 6 hours. Transfer frozen biscuits to a large ziplock freezer bag and freeze up to 1 month.
When ready to bake biscuits, do not thaw. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lay biscuits on parchment-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot.
Notes: You may bake as few or as many biscuits at a time as you wish. Regardless of how many you bake, make sure they are spaced 2 inches apart, and if using more than one baking sheet, bake only one sheet at a time.
Guidelines for additions:
mild herbs - add 6 tbsp. (cilantro, parsley, chives, dill, etc.)
hearty herbs - add 3 tbsp. (rosemary, sage, thyme, etc. )
cheese - 6 oz. shredded or cubed (no larger than 1/4-inch pieces)
Add additions to the flour mixture, if using.
- Adapted from The Best Make-Ahead Recipe