Maggy observed that while there are sweet scones, there aren’t many sweet biscuit recipes. Maybe we could develop one for blueberry biscuits. Why not, I thought.
Coincidentally a of mine had just offered a tip while I was in Panama City, FL last week. Rather than pop the biscuits in a hot oven, he suggested letting them sit in a 170 degree oven for 45 minutes to let them proof (for lack of a better term) before cranking up the heat for browning.
For someone whose method is exactly the opposite—I grate frozen butter into the flour and pop the formed biscuit dough into in a hot oven as quickly as possible so the starch sets before the butter melts—his logic didn’t make sense.
But I was open and gave it a try. As I suspected the lukewarm oven caused the butter to melt and the dough to deflate and spread. I almost tossed the batch but decided to bake them anyway. What was there to lose? And in fact the resulting biscuits weren’t bad. They reminded me of the ones at the Red Lobster Mom and Dad used to take me to—flat and greasy good rather than the taut, perky biscuits I was used to.
With that experiment behind me, I moved on. Using my time-tested biscuit and scone formulas as a guide, I made my first (and what I thought would be my only) batch. As these biscuits baked, I peeked in the oven. Like the Red Lobster-style biscuits the ones from batch number two were flat, wan, and greasy.
I quickly assessed. Reasoning that room temperature blueberries would burst during baking and make the biscuits soggy, I used frozen ones. Not a good idea. The frozen blueberries, in fact, kept the starch from setting before the butter melted. Lesson learned.
I usually make my biscuits in a metal baking pan. For some unexplainable reason I had used Pyrex, which retains heat well but takes a long time to heat up. The frozen butter and blueberries in the dough slowed the heating process even more.
Next batch I used room temperature blueberries and a metal pan. Surely I’d achieve perfection this round. But no! While the biscuits browned, the biscuits in batch number three still spread more than a good biscuit should have. Why?
The light went off again. Since my biscuit recipe doesn’t call for sugar, I had lifted the sugar amount from my scone recipe. What happens to sugar as it’s heated? It melts! The key to keeping my biscuits perky was eliminating the sugar. But doesn’t a blueberry biscuit need it?
The solution: I sprinkled the biscuits with sugar. It worked. Not only did the surface sugar help the biscuits taste sweet, it also helped them brown better.
Blueberry Buttermilk Biscuits
Makes 12 biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, frozen solid
1 cup blueberries
1 cup cold buttermilk
4 teaspoons sugar
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a fork in a medium bowl. Using a box grater, coarsely grate frozen butter into the dry ingredients and mix quickly with fingertips to blend evenly. Stir in blueberries, then buttermilk, and mix to combine.
Pinch dough into 12 rough rounds, place on baking sheet; sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown about 12 minutes. Serve warm.