My favorite part of a holiday meal is the fresh homemade bread.
Ironically, my least favorite part of the holiday meal to make is fresh homemade bread.
Normally I LOVE baking bread. Everyone in this household loves fresh bread so I know the effort will be worth it in the end because we can use it for so many meals in so many different ways. It also helps that Paul's face lights up when he smells bread baking after coming home from work. However, in planning a holiday meal, it is always an absolute pain coordinating getting the meat, vegetables, and side dishes all piping hot and to the table at the same time while simultaneously ensuring that the bread is risen, baked, and served immediately upon removal from the oven (because we all know that's when it tastes the best!).
Enter these amazing freezer biscuits. Who does not love a good biscuit? Biscuits themselves are not difficult to make, but they do involve a little bit of work - including messing up the counter-top with flour for dusting. Plus, they normally have to be baked immediately after shaping and nobody wants to be forming the dough and cutting out biscuits during the dinner prep crunch time. And now that the weather is warmer, there are tons of other things you could be doing instead of waiting around for the dough to finish rising.
Like taking the kids for a bike ride...
Or for a walk by the lake (yes, that lake is frozen behind us, but the temperature was actually quite warm!)...
These cream-based biscuits are formed, cut, and then frozen until solid. After that, they may be placed in a ziploc bag and stored in the freezer for up to a month before baking. Then, all you have to do is ensure that your oven is preheated to 450 degrees and then toss these bad boys on a baking sheet for 20-25 minutes. They will rise and bake until perfectly browned and flaky. Surprisingly, they taste pretty buttery even though there is no actual butter in the recipe. Well, there is heavy cream - which I guess you could say is butter's close relative. Anyway, these biscuits have been a life saver for me on multiple occasions - Thanksgiving, Easter, dinner parties, you name it...
If you want a less stressful way to serve hot, freshly baked bread at your table, these little beauties might just be your ticket!
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
6 cups (30 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus extra for the counter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I sometimes add a pinch or two extra because I think they are a bit under-salted)
4 1/2 cups heavy cream
Whisk the 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 out onto a lightly floured counter and gather into a ball. Knead the dough briefly until smooth, about 60 seconds, adding extra flour as needed if the dough is too sticky.
Pat the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick circle. Cut out the biscuits using a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter. Lay the biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced about 1/2 inch apart. Gather up the scraps of dough and re-knead them briefly to combine, then pat the dough again into a 3/4-inch-thick round and cut more biscuits. Repeat this process as necessary with remaining dough scraps.
Wrap the baking sheet tightly with lightly greased plastic wrap and freeze the biscuits until frozen solid, about 6 hours. Transfer the frozen biscuits to a large zipper-lock bag and freeze for up to 1 month. Do not thaw before baking.
When ready to bake, adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Lay the biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart, and bake until puffed and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately!