On the Menu: Buttermilk Biscuits and Baked Apples

The perfect go-to homemade meal to serve your guests this holiday season. And the best part? It's much easier than it looks!
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Amanda Carter Gomes
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The perfect go-to homemade meal to serve your guests this holiday season. And the best part? It's much easier than it looks!
Illustration by Lori Bailey 

Illustration by Lori Bailey 

Christmas mornings are filled with tradition and the celebratory fare served is no exception. We asked Lori Bailey of Sugar and Stamp to share a twist on one of our favorites: the ever popular and always delicious, biscuit! Check out her recipe and tips below and admire her adorable illustration above. 

Picture the scene: a chilly, frosty morning, your holiday house guests cradling steaming mugs of coffee, expectations mounting as you slide a piping hot pan of fluffy, buttery biscuits out of the oven. The mesmerizing scent of warm, spiced baked apples wafts from a pan on the table. Everyone gathers, and you produce savory slices of holiday ham and a cheese board with soft, creamy brie. Plates for everyone, more coffee and a gloriously cozy morning continues in delicious comfort.

Sounds lovely, one might say, but aren’t biscuits supposed to be hard to make? While baked-from-scratch buttermilk biscuits call for a gentle hand and an air of authority (the dough can smell your fear), they require only a handful of ingredients and a few simple steps to make. Also, the dough can be whipped up ahead of time, stashed in the freezer, and baked up the morning of. Perfect do-ahead breakfast or brunch goodness for you and your guests!

All you need to make better biscuits (other than some handy baking tips) are a few good add-ons. Slice, spice, and bake whatever apples are in season near you, or go for firm and sweet Fuji and semi-tart Golden Delicious. Delightfully easy to throw together, they even bake at the same temperature as the biscuits — so they can get to know each other in the oven before they hit the table.

You’d be set with just biscuits and apples, but hey, ’tis the season to celebrate, right? Make it a build-your-own biscuit bar with some holiday ham and a slice of nutty brie to mellow all that sweet and savory. If you’re feeling virtuous, serve a tangy arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette alongside.

BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp granulated sugar
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, very cold

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 cup buttermilk, cold (or sub scant 1/2 cup regular milk + a dash of white vinegar)
1 large egg

Directions:
**Stick your butter in the freezer for 15 minutes to half an hour while you gather the rest of your ingredients.

1) Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Using the large holes of a grater, grate the frozen butter into the dry mix.
Use your fingers to lightly combine until you have pea-sized bits of butter thoroughly distributed in your mix. Set in the fridge or freezer while you assemble your wet mix.

2) Whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Make a well in your dry mix and pour the wet mix into it. Using a small spatula, shallow spoon, or rice paddle, gently fold everything together until a shaggy dough forms. 

3) Use your hands to coerce the dough into a ball (more or less), lightly dusting with flour as necessary. Knead only until the dough comes together (tip:overworking kills biscuits).

4) Generously dust a clean surface with flour and roll out dough to about 3/4” thick. Press a 2 1/2” biscuit or cookie cutter firmly into dough and pull straight up to remove; don’t twist. Dip the cutter in flour in between cuts. Transfer biscuits to a parchment-lined sheet pan, arranging closely but not quite touching. Put biscuits in the freezer — cold is key! — while preparing the apples.

BAKED APPLES

Ingredients:
4 - 5 firm, medium-sized apples
3 tbsp brown sugar
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom (optional, but awesome)
1 tsp corn starch
1/8 tsp kosher salt
2 pats of butter, divided into smaller pieces

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 400 F and prep your apples by peeling, coring, and slicing into relatively thin wedges (between 1/4” and 1/2” thick at widest).
2) Mix sugar, spices, corn starch, and salt in a small bowl.
3) Place apples in a wide shallow bowl and add lemon juice, then sprinkle over the sugar and spice mixture. Use a shallow spoon (or your hands) to combine.
4) Spread apples out on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle over extra sugar and spice, if desired. Dot with pats of butter.
5) Get your biscuits out of the freezer and place biscuits and apples side-by-side in the oven. Let bake for 13-14 minutes, rotating halfway through. 
6) At the end of 13 minutes, remove biscuits from oven and cover with a clean dish towel. Center the apples and let them continue baking for another 4-8 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling. Remove and transfer to a serving dish, if desired.

When serving and eating, split biscuits with a fork and fill with apples and optional extras. Enjoy thoroughly! 

p.s. Tricks for staying present this season.