Sunday brunch used to be my favorite meal. I loved standing over the stove in robe and slippers, flipping pancakes and stirring eggs over barely-there heat with Avishai Cohen serenading me in the background. Friday night was a time for big dinner parties that required hours of advance prep (sometimes even days). But Sunday was a time to mosey into the kitchen, cook something delicious, and feed people. Plain and simple.
These days, Sunday means errands. It means returning things at Bed Bath and Beyond, finding a framer to frame our brit (Jewish marital contract), and visiting my grandmother, who recently moved to town from Chicago. My Sunday breakfasts are even more harried than what I eat on weekdays. We’re talking oatmeal, toast with ricotta and avocado, yogurt and granola, the usual. I haven’t had a pancake in eons.
But then I read Molly’s post about biscuits, and it woke me up. Molly is a wonderful writer. Read her posts, and you’ll want to sneak into her world, be her friend. In this case, boy will you want to eat her biscuits.
I’m pretty sure that within minutes of reading that post, I was in the kitchen. In gym clothes and sneakers, hair still back in that sloppy ponytail, I was nonetheless determined to have biscuits. And have biscuits I did: these are the easiest to make. No butter to mash, no liquid to delicately drizzle; just dry ingredients and a wet one, a fork, and five minutes.
As I was gathering ingredients, I remembered a scone I once had at Teaism. It was a ginger scone, and it wasn’t great; but it left me intrigued by the possibility of a great ginger scone. I grabbed a nob of ginger from the fridge and took down some candied ginger pieces from the pantry. I grated fresh ginger into the dry ingredients, then added bits of candied ginger.
The results? Delicious. Obviously. These biscuits are king. Molly’s right – the things grow to three times their size in the oven, and when they come out, piping hot, you should reward yourself and your guests by eating them, right then and there. At room temperature, they’re just not as good.
But I was hung up on the ginger; it wasn’t as prominent as I’d hoped. The next time, I used twice the quantity of fresh ginger, half of which infused the cream. I also added ground dried ginger for a subtle but important gingery base note. Out of the oven, and — yep, these were the biscuits I’d been hoping for. Perfumed through and through with ginger, pleasantly crunchy both from the crust and from the candied ginger pieces, and people, as flaky as biscuits can be.
Adapted from this recipe
In her biscuit recipe, Marion Cunningham calls for a range of 1 to 1 1/2 cups of cream. The amount of liquid you use really depends on the weather, humidity, etc. I started with about 1 1/4 cups, to split the difference, and found my dough stuck together but wasn’t sticky. I think this is the texture you’re going for. If you’re not sure, add 1 cup, whisk with a fork, and if dough still looks really dry, add by the 1/4 cup until it adheres.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
4 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
10 pieces candied ginger, chopped
1 to 1 ½ cups heavy cream (I used about 1 1/4)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (If not using parchment paper, no need to grease the pan.)
Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, ground ginger, candied ginger pieces, and 2 tablespoons fresh ginger in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup cream with remaining fresh ginger until hot (but not boiling). Turn off heat, and allow to steep for 1 hour in the fridge.
Mix the 1 cup of ginger-infused cream into the dry ingredients while mixing the dough. Gather the dough gently; when it holds together and is tender but not sticky, you’ve added enough cream. If the dough feels very shaggy or there are dry pieces at the bottom of the bowl, add some of the additional cream until dough holds together.
On a lightly floured workspace, gently knead dough about 1 minute – you’re looking for a consistently smooth dough, but you don’t want to overwork it. Pat the dough into a 1/2-inch thick square or circle. If square, cut into 12 squares. If circle, cut into 8-12 wedges (I made 8). Brush with melted butter so all sides of each biscuit are coated. Place biscuits on baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes, until browned around the edges. Serve hot.