Hot and Bothered and Berry Delicious

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Not quite sure why I decided to bake today. I’ve got no air conditioning in my kitchen, it’s 80° and pouring rain, meaning my skylight stays closed, and I’m trying to avoid sweets… But bake I must and bake I did.

My need for nearly instant gratification is put to the test with scratch baking. I can usually whip up a quick-fix lunch, dinner or snack in minutes and have it seem deceptively complex (tip: always have a jar of really good tuna in the pantry, some precooked grains in the freezer and a healthy herb garden and pretend it took you all day)

But baking requires at least 15 minutes of prep and 20 minutes of baking (muffins, brownies, cookies…) not to mention cooling time. Biscuits are a little more forgiving, time-wise but what I really wanted were sticky buns. (I don’t have 4 hours) In the past, I’ve used biscuit dough really nicely in a variety of ways: pull apart bread, Parker House muffins, monkey bread, pork buns…etc but never sticky buns. How hard could it be?

The method is pretty simple: make biscuit dough, pat it thin, spread it with jam, roll it, cut it and bake it. Easy? Sure, but not on a really hot day, when I can’t keep the butter from getting too soft. Popping the dough in the freezer periodically for a few minutes and using  parchment paper to roll the dough are tremendously helpful.

Here’s why you should make it: it’s easy, delicious and nearly instant. Here’s how you should make it: follow below and enjoy it immensely!

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BERRY SWIRL BISCUITS

Total: about 40 minutes

8 to 10 servings

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, 8 tablespoons cut into 1/2-inch cubes and well chilled,  2 tablespoons melted

3/4 heavy cream, half and half or milk

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/2 cup mixed berry preserves

  1. Preheat the oven to 425° and lightly butter a 12-inch cast-iron skillet. In a large bowl, combine the flour, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder and salt. Add the cubed butter and using a pastry blender or 2 tables knives, cut the butter into the flour until it is the size of small peas.  Stir in the lemon zest. Stir in the cream until moistened. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead several times, just until the dough comes together. Press the dough into two rectangles, each  4-inches wide by 12-inches long. If the dough gets too soft, pop it in the freezer for a few minutes.
  2. Spread the preserves over the dough and roll into a 12-inch long cylinder. Brush with butter and sprinkle generously with sugar. Cut each cylinder into 12 pieces.
  3. Arrange the biscuits, swirl-side up in the skillet. Drizzle any remaining butter on top and sprinkle with more sugar. Bake in the lower third of the oven until golden and risen, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then dig in.
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