For many years, I harbored a fear of heavy cream. I know I’m not the only woman with this problem, nor am I the only one trying to escape its clutches. But it’s worth admitting nonetheless—we don’t talk about this enough.
When I began cooking, I avoided recipes with any significant amount of butter or cream or even olive oil, for that matter—afraid, I’m sure, that these ingredients would go straight to my thighs and take up residence there for all eternity. It certainly doesn’t help that the word heavy is in the very name of whipping cream. The restrictive habits I’d picked up in college didn’t do me much good either. And at some point, I think I stopped believing I was worth that kind of indulgence. Other people? Sure! Just not me.
Somewhere along the way, I’d lost the mentality surrounding food that I’d grown up with: nutritious meals, occasional indulgences. I heard people talking. Thin was and is and will be in, and heavy cream and its many fattening companions wouldn’t be much help in that department.
But what about happiness, and celebration? What about relishing life and the people we love, gathering around the table and enjoying all that we’ve been given without worrying about the size and tightness of our pants? How are we to be truly present in our bodies if we are so very distracted by controlling and despising them?
We are quick to coo at a baby’s pudgy hands and dimpled thighs, and yet we scorn the fat on our own bodies. We complement our friends and make desserts to share, but we critique ourselves and abstain. We say that it’s fine, that it’s normal, that someday we will stop worrying about these things.
I was once fixated on being as thin as possible so as not to take up too much space in the world. But I want to take up space. I want to drink up life in unrefined gulps, to grab it with both hands, to relish each moment. I have a long way to go, but I’m closer all the time. Falling in love with the way food brings us together was the first step. Making fantastic homemade ice cream helped a good deal as well. And these biscuits brought me further still, to a point at which I can affirm straight up cream in my dessert bowl.
Alongside the recipe, Kim Boyce tells a story about the drop biscuits her great-grandmother made for her when she was a little girl. They came from a box, and the presentation wasn’t fancy. But long after bedtime, the two of them would sit on the back porch, summer’s heat heavy in the air, eating biscuits and Cool Whip and sugared strawberries.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but I just don’t think this would be a story if the biscuits were replaced with granola and non-fat yogurt, or a big green salad. I think we need a bit of indulgence every now and again. I think we need the reminder that we are worth that—that and so much more.
I was somewhat obsessed with this recipe for several weeks before I made it. This despite the fact that Kim Boyce was directing me to put a big dollop of cream into a bowl and eat it with a spoon. I loved that story, and I loved the fact that she said to nestle the biscuit into the cream and strawberries, which sounds perfectly comforting. On top of all of that, the recipe read as summertime at its finest. Which it is. Summertime at its fullest, most comforting, most joy-filled best. I refuse to be afraid of that.
Drop Biscuits with Strawberries & Cream
Adapted (just barely) from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain
This recipe is pretty much perfect. I sometimes skip a few steps for ease—for example, if you don’t have a sifter, or don’t want to fuss, you can simply whisk together the dry ingredients. And in truth, the strawberries will be lovely even without macerating or sweetening at all, but this is a very nice touch if you’re after perfection. As for the crème fraîche, this helps keep the cream from getting over whipped and provides a bit of tang and shine as well. It’s a lovely addition if you have some on hand.
I’ve been meaning to eat a leftover biscuit with jam, but the cream and berries always taunt so convincingly. Let me know if you give that a try!
Butter, for the baking sheet
FOR THE BISCUITS
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons natural cane sugar, divided
1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup cold heavy cream
1/3 cup crème fraîche, optional
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Rub a baking sheet lightly with butter.
In a large bowl, sift together the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that remain in the sifter.
Pour in the cream and, with a fork or your hands, stir until the dough just begins to come together. It will be very shaggy; do not overmix.
Pile the dough into six mounds on the baking sheet, leaving space between them. Use your hands to tuck in the rough pieces of the dough. Sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon sugar.
Bake the biscuits for 34 to 40 minutes, rotating the sheet once halfway through, until they begin to turn golden brown.
While the biscuits bake, place the berries in a bowl and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Allow them to macerate, uncovered at room temperature, for about 30 minutes, or until the biscuits are done.
Meanwhile, whip the remaining cup of cream, combined with crème fraîche if desired, into soft peaks that barely hold their shape, and chill.
When the biscuits are out of the oven, fill bowls with cream and berries, then nestle a warm biscuit alongside.
Photos taken with iPhone 5 and edited with VSCOcam.