Every once in a while, my father would bake biscuits for breakfast. He made them the only way I knew they could be made: out of a box.
Only after I was grown did I realize that box-made buttermilk biscuits were merely a way of approximating something that could be done by hand with hardly any more effort and time.
But that’s not all.
We slathered my father’s hot biscuits generously with butter — butter that we had acquired the way nature intended, at a store. I knew that farmers of an earlier time churned their own butter, but it never occurred to me that I could make my own butter at home with the use of a common household appliance, and in less time than it takes to make biscuits.
And even that’s not all.
Once the butter had melted into those biscuits, we would spread each half with store-bought jam. I realized that many people make their own jam, but it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I tried to do it myself. And yes, it was easier than I thought.
Honey, also, is a great topping for homemade biscuits. But let’s leave that one to the bees.
Needless to say, homemade biscuits are better than biscuits made from a box or a tube. Homemade jam is far brighter and fresher than jam from a store.
Homemade butter, however, tastes just like butter. But making it gives you a great sense of accomplishment. Plus, it’s something to brag about casually when you serve it to guests. “What, this butter? Oh, I made it myself. I do that, you know.”
I call this homemade breakfast BB&J: biscuits, butter and jam.
I begin with the butter: 2 cups of heavy cream poured into a food processor. Voila, butter.
Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that, but not much. The food processor divides the cream into clumps of butter and buttermilk. Pour off the buttermilk (but keep it, because you can cook with it) and press together the butter clumps.
And now, voila, it’s butter.
Next, the jam. This does take some time, but it is not difficult. For whatever amount of fruit you use, stir in a third amount of sugar by weight, and one-third of the sugar weight (or one-ninth of the fruit weight) in lemon juice, plus a bit of salt.
Let that sit for an hour or two, then simmer it all together for another hour or two. After it cools, you have brilliant, fresh-tasting jam. And you don’t even have to use pectin.
With the butter and jam in the fridge, tackle the biscuits.
Biscuits are fun. You get to play with your food, and you end up with something incredibly buttery and flaky and delicious.
Your house may never smell as good as it does when you are baking buttermilk biscuits. But as wonderful as they smell, they taste even better. I like them with a smear of homemade butter and a dollop of fresh jam.
By Daniel Neman
- 2 cups heavy cream, see note
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
Pour cream into a food processor, blender or stand mixer fitted with a whisk. Mix on medium-high. The cream will first thicken into whipped cream, then separate into clumps of butter and buttermilk.
Strain out buttermilk, reserving it for another purpose. Place clumps of butter in a bowl and use a large spoon to press them together until no more liquid escapes from the butter (add liquid to buttermilk). Stir in salt, if using. Butter will keep in the refrigerator 3 weeks. Makes about 1 cup.
>> Note: Because of its higher butterfat content, heavy cream is preferable to whipping cream, but whipping cream also will work. Ultra-pasteurized cream will have less flavor.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 100 calories, 11 g total fat, 7 g saturated fat, 90 mg cholesterol, 63 mg sodium; no protein, carbohydrate, sugar, fiber or calcium.
Adapted from “Breakfast,” by the editors of Extra Crispy (Oxmoor House, 2018)
- 2-1/2 pounds fruit, weighed after it is trimmed of stems, seeds, pits, etc.
- 1-3/4 cups (13-2/3 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4-1/2 ounces) lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
Place fruit in a large, heavy-bottomed pot (leave berries whole; cut larger fruit into bite-size chunks). Stir in sugar, lemon juice and salt. Let sit 1 to 2 hours, or up to overnight (refrigerate if it will be more than a few hours).
Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring frequently, until jam is thick and fruit begins sticking to the bottom of the pot, or until bubbles change texture and become like a burbling pot of mud.
Cool completely, then chill to a few hours to set. Makes 4 cups.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 24 calories, 6 g carbohydrate, 6 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 37 mg sodium, 1 mg calcium; no fat, cholesterol or protein.
Adapted from “Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook,” by Barbara Fairchild (John Wiley & Sons, 2008)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, chilled
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 2 cups chilled buttermilk, plus additional for brushing
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually mix in buttermilk; toss until dough just comes together in large clumps.
Gather dough into a ball. Pat out on floured work surface to 1/2-inch thickness. Sprinkle flour and gently fold into thirds. Brush off excess flour. Turn dough one-quarter turn, pat out again into 1/2-inch thickness and fold into thirds. Repeat process once or twice more.
Pat out into 1/2-inch thickness. Using floured 2-1/2-inch cutter, cut out biscuits. Gather dough scraps to make more.
Transfer biscuits to 2 large, ungreased baking sheets. Brush tops with additional buttermilk. Bake until a pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes about 2 dozen.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 141 calories, 5 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 14 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 1 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 223 mg sodium, 94 mg calcium.