Every time someone says they’re coming over for tea, my imagination promptly creates a situation that is undoubtedly ripped off from one of the many Enid Blyton books I read as a kid: a table set with a pretty checked cloth, a china teapot and a selection of dainty, sweet eats that would put a Downton Abbey tea table to shame. This obviously rarely happens, but every once in a while I like to bust out a snack that makes people believe I spend most of my time flitting around in the kitchen. And one of the easiest ways to do this is to bake up a batch of biscuits – not the nasty, sugar-filled variety that you can buy at a department store but fluffy, light homemade biscuits that crumble when you bite into them and go perfectly with a cup of sweet tea. What’s more, they’re easy to make, don’t use any fancy ingredients and you can have them out of the oven in 15 minutes as long as you don’t spend too much time snacking on raw dough (bad habit, I know).
While I’m a huge fan of plain biscuits, a little flavouring can go a long way. These strawberry cream biscuits, very slightly adapted from this genius recipe, are very faintly sweetened, with the tart, fruity strawberry flavour occupying centre stage. Beaten cream is stirred into the dough and the raw cookies are brushed with a few teaspoons of melted butter, so that they puff up and flake with each bite. They aren’t particularly healthy, but are an indulgent addition to any evening meal and a great option for gifting.
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp strawberry jam
Sift together the flour, sugar and baking powder and set aside.
Beat the cream for about 5 minutes, until it turns pale and fluffy. Add the strawberry jam and beat again until it’s well combined. Fold the cream into the flour mixture and combine to form a dough.
Roll the dough to a thickness of 3/4 inch, and cut out biscuits. The original recipe called for a 2 1/2 inch-diameter cutter, but I used a 2 inch one. Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter and bake at 425 F for 10-15 minutes. When they’re golden-brown, with the faintest champagne-pink tinge, take them out of the oven and let them cool before serving.
I cut down on the sugar used in the dough because of the slight added sweetness of the jam. If you prefer your biscuits on the sweeter side, you can a full tablespoon of sugar instead.
The jam I used was organic and had whole stewed strawberries, which gave the biscuits a more natural flavour. I’m guessing artificially-sweetened jams won’t have the same effect. Alternately, you can puree strawberries and add them to the cream before beating for a more tart, but authentic, flavour.