If there is one recipe everyone should master in their lifetime, it’s a biscuit. Humble yet elegant and infinitely adaptable, biscuits can be called into service for any meal of the day, served sweet or savoury, and require of the cook only 5 minutes of time and 20 of waiting as they do their thing in the oven. Also? You’ll not find a better potpourri.
Yesterday I started making a batch, only to be sidetracked by something else. This morning I came downstairs and noticed the dry ingredients still sitting in wait in the food processor – this is my favourite biscuit-making tool, streamlining the process of cutting butter into flour, baking powder and salt. If you want fresh basil in your biscuits, or grated zest, or cheese, it will make quick work of the lumps and incorporate the flavour more completely than a fork will, too. Then again, that’s one of the pleasures of a biscuit – a perfect one can be made using nothing but a bowl, fork and your fingers.
As the fruit bowl was overflowing with peaches that surely would not get eaten before starting to go soft, I plucked one and quickly scored and cut its flesh, unpeeled, into my mixing bowl. On a whim, I pulled the Mexican vanilla I’ve been rationing since it began nearing the bottom of the bottle off the shelf. What better pairing than peaches and vanilla? Although peaches and ginger would have been pretty marvy, too. Next time.
The biscuits came together in a few minutes flat – I like to simplify the biscuit process by patting the dough into a circle directly on the baking sheet, then cutting it into wedges and pulling them apart before sliding the sheet into the oven. If you like, you could pat and cut your biscuits – reroll the scraps only once though – overhandling your biscuits could make them tough.
Serve warm, with coffee or tea, in PJs. I imagine leftovers would make a fine carrier for a ham sandwich.
Fresh Peach & Vanilla Biscuits
Use any ratio of all-purpose to whole wheat flour you like, so long as you wind up with 3 cups. Expect whole wheat flour to make them heavier – try whole wheat pastry flour, if you can find it.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk, cream or half & half, plus a little extra for brushing on top
1 peach, unpeeled, cut into chunks
Preheat the oven to 400F. In the bowl of a food processor (or a large bowl), combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and pulse or work with a pastry cutter, fork or your fingers until the mixture is well combined and crumbly, with bits of butter no bigger than a pea you want to leave some larger bits, rather than blending it completely the larger chunks are what will make them flaky.
If you used a food processor (this is my favourite way) dump the mixture into a bowl. Add the vanilla to the milk, pour it in and stir a few strokes – add the peaches and stir just until you have a soft dough (you may need to use your hands).
Pat the dough out about 3/4³ thick and cut into small rounds with a biscuit cutter, glass or open can rim, or a knife, or if you really want to streamline things, pat it into a circle and cut into 8 wedges. Place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray, spacing them a bit apart. If you like, brush the tops lightly with milk. (I do this to the whole circle of dough before cutting it.)
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden. Makes 8 large biscuits.