Truth in advertising. That’s what you can expect from this easy cream biscuits recipe that calls for just two ingredients yet turns out remarkably airy and lovely biscuits.
It’s a lesser-known Southern biscuit tradition that chef and author Nathalie Dupree learned both in the 1964 issue of Joy of Cooking as well as when she was a culinary student in England.
She quotes Atlanta chef Gena Berry, who says of it, “A respectable homemade biscuit is an essential art of the Southern table, and this scandalously simple recipe makes turning out the perfect biscuit a snap.
“This recipe breaks all the rules of Southern biscuit making; there’s no shortening to cut in, and you don’t even roll out the dough. The results are remarkable and even a novice can turn out fluffy, perfect biscuits in minutes.
“Would a respectable Southern lady bend recipe rules, defy convention and use sneaky shortcuts all in the name of turning out a hot, homemade biscuit? You better believe it!”–David Leite
What is White Lily Flour?
An intrepid recipe tester of ours, Eydie Desser, recently had the good fortune of chatting with the lovely Nathalie Dupree about this very cream biscuits recipe, which comes from Dupree’s recent cookbook, Southern Biscuits.
Nathalie imparted many words of biscuit-minded wisdom in response to Eydie’s questions, including the fact that she prefers to work with White Lily, a Southern belle of a flour that boasts a relatively low gluten content and, as a result, invariably turns out biscuits that are lighter and fluffier than anything made with standard-issue flours.
If you aren’t able to find White Lily (or another self-rising, low-gluten Southern flour such as Martha White or Midstate Mills), continued Nathalie, you can substitute an equal measure of self-rising cake flour and the results will be close to indistinguishable.
Even if all you have available to you is standard-issue self-rising flour, simply scale back on the amount of flour in this recipe by two tablespoons and your biscuits will mimic those made with White Lily. Neat-o, yes?
How to Make Self-Rising Flour
One last flour fact. Because we know self-rising flour isn’t necessarily a must in everyone’s pantry, we wanted to share how to make your own self-rising flour via a very easy equation: 1 cup of self-rising flour = 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt + 1 cup all-purpose flour.
[In case you haven’t a calculator handy, when you do the math for this recipe, that equates to 1 tablespoon of baking powder + 3/4 teaspoon salt + 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. You’re welcome.]
Easy Cream Biscuits
- Butter for the baking sheet and brushing
- 2 1/4 cups self-rising White Lily Flour or 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons homemade self-rising flour, (See Note Above)
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Adjust the oven rack to one of the top positions, setting the rack one shelf above the middle shelf but not so close to the top of the oven that the biscuits will bump into it as they rise.
- For a soft biscuit exterior, select an 8- or 9-inch cake pan, pizza pan, or ovenproof skillet. The biscuits will nestle together snugly, helping each other stay tender but rise while baking. Brush the pan with butter.For a crisp biscuit exterior, select a baking sheet or large baking pan where the biscuits can be spaced wide apart, allowing air to circulate and creating a crisp exterior. Brush the pan with butter.
- In a large bowl, fork-sift or whisk 2 cups flour. Make a deep well in the center of the flour. Pour 1 cup cream into the well and stir with a rubber spatula or large metal spoon, using broad circular strokes to quickly pull the flour into the cream. Mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the dough becomes sticky and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If flour remains on the bottom and sides of the bowl, stir in 1 to 4 tablespoons of the reserved cream, just enough to incorporate the remaining flour into the shaggy, wettish dough.
- Lightly sprinkle a cutting board or other clean surface with some of the reserved flour. Turn the dough out onto the board and sprinkle it lightly with flour. Flour your hands and then fold the dough in half. Pat the dough into a round about 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick, using a little additional flour if the dough is sticky.
- Fold the dough in half a second time. If the dough still seems clumpy, pat and fold it a third time. Pat the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick round for a normal biscuit, 3/4 inch thick for a tall biscuit, and 1 inch thick for a giant biscuit. Brush any visible flour from the top.
- Dip a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter into the reserved flour and cut out the biscuits, starting at the outside edge and cutting very close together, being careful not to twist the cutter. Re-flour the cutter after each biscuit. (The scraps may be combined to make additional biscuits, although the scraps will result in tougher biscuits.)
- Using a metal spatula, move the biscuits to the pan or baking sheet. Bake the biscuits for 6 minutes and then rotate the pan so the front is now turned to the back. If the bottoms are browning too quickly, slide another baking pan underneath to add insulation. Continue baking another 4 to 8 minutes, until the cream biscuits are lightly golden brown, a total of 10 to 14 minutes.
- When the biscuits are done, remove from the oven and immediately brush the top of the biscuits with softened or melted butter, using a light touch. Turn the biscuits out upside down on a plate to cool slightly. Serve while still hot, right side up.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Seemed strange–if not outright blasphemous–that a Southern biscuit recipe not have butter or shortening, but this recipe is awesome! I don’t think I’ll go back to cutting butter into flour ever again. The heavy cream works like magic. They were mostly devoured warm, but the ones that were left over still tasted great the next day.
The recipe directions call for very minimal handling of the dough, and this is important so as not to end up with a hockey-puck biscuit. I think I will try this next time with shredded Cheddar for an even richer biscuit.
This is a fabulous recipe for perfect biscuits in a snap—it only has two ingredients!
I couldn’t find the self-rising version of White Lily flour, so I added 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt. With the full 4 tablespoons cream, the dough was extremely easy to work with. I didn’t use any shaggy or clumpy parts of the dough, and after folding twice, it was perfect—soft but not sticky. Voila! Eleven minutes later, we had hot, flaky biscuits.
It was with great trepidation that I entered Nathalie’s kitchen almost two years ago to start working on this book. I, a Southerner, had never made a biscuit. The thought of cutting in fats, kneading, snapping the dough, rolling, and hand-shaping just scared me to death. (Fear of failure, I suppose.) But, these biscuits changed everything. Easy, fast, and practically foolproof, they come together in a snap and are so delicious, you’ll be tempted to pop them straight from the oven and into your mouth.
Two things to remember: (1) when using the biscuit cutter, cut straight down without twisting. When you twist the cutter in the dough, it seals the edges of the biscuit and prevents a good rise. (2) Fold the dough over at least twice. It helps with the rise, creates layers, and makes the biscuit easier to split open so that you can fill it with butter, whipped cream and jam. Yum!
Any skepticism I had about making biscuits from only two ingredients evaporated halfway through baking, when I went to rotate the biscuits and found they were raised, puffy, and emitting the most drool-inducing aroma. The finished product delivered on this promise: biscuits so incredibly tender, fluffy, and savory that you’d swear they had to contain buttermilk, or butter, or even lard.
The recipe worked exactly as written. I had to add a couple of tablespoons of cream to the dough because it was a bit dry and it came together very well. I didn’t have to use all of the reserved flour for the work surface, as the dough wasn’t too sticky, and only folded it once since it held together pretty easily. Generally, the dough was nowhere near as sticky as the recipe led me to believe it would be.
I got a yield of 12 biscuits and a couple of dough blobs (from dough pressed 1/2-inch high) and baked them in a 9-inch round cake pan. They baked for the full 14 minutes and the results, as I said above, were blissful. They should be a staple for cooks of all levels who are looking for an unfussy, intensely satisfying biscuit recipe.
Because they’re small, you’ll want to pop them like candy, but try to resist so you’ll have some leftovers for the next day.
These are easy and delicious, and although I had my doubts that any recipe with only 2 ingredients could be any good, I was wrong! They’re tasty, light, and very easy to spread butter or jam on. These would be perfect for summer shortcakes.
I made them about an hour before we ate them, and they held up well—although the first taste out of the oven was sublime. For dessert servings, I’d use a bigger biscuit cutter.
Be careful when putting the oven rack in the top position—in my oven, that’s VERY close to the top of the oven, causing the biscuits to rise considerably. One level lower worked perfectly, with no danger of them hitting the broiler above. I used a baking sheet with a Silpat and didn’t need to brush it with butter to prevent sticking. At 450°F, the butter will burn, and that could cause the biscuits to get too dark on the bottom before cooking, which the author warns against.
These biscuits are the perfect version of what a Southern biscuit should be, without complication. They’re light, tender, and have a great rise. If you don’t have self-rising flour, you can make your own (1 cup of self-rising flour = 1 cup of all-purpose flour sifted with 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of table salt). I found the amount of salt to be perfect, but I tend to like things on the salty side—cut back if you don’t.
What a great recipe! It took longer to preheat my oven than it did to make these biscuits. With only two ingredients (although, if you make your own self-rising flour, there are four), and easy, detailed instructions, anybody can make these biscuits. I halved the recipe and got 5 biscuits that were a bit crumbly but tender and tasty. My biscuits rose beautifully and were perfectly baked in 12 minutes.
First, I must say that I’m no biscuit snob. Though I’ve certainly had some biscuits in the past that I didn’t think were very good, when I have a biscuit, I tend to enjoy it. I’ve only bothered to make biscuits at home a few times. I can’t imagine a recipe being any easier than this one, and the final result worked well as a vehicle for rhubarb jam at a Mother’s Day brunch. Though mom wasn’t impressed at how high the biscuits rose, she did agree that they were much lighter, and more tender than they looked—and very tasty, to boot. I can’t claim to have the experience to rate this a great biscuit, but it’s a very good one, and is very easy to make.
Around here, we all grew up on biscuits—so everyone has their secret recipe or ingredient. I think I’ll claim this recipe as my own secret—you know the kind: The “it’s an old family recipe I can’t share, or I’ll have to kill you if I do” kind of recipe.
I hope everyone tries it—you’ll be baking biscuits for every meal, every day. And for shortcake, just add some brown sugar to suit your sweet tooth, and bake as directed. Again, a real winner. Thank you, Nathalie!
This was, without a doubt, the easiest biscuit recipe ever. If more beginning cooks learned to make biscuits using this recipe, they wouldn’t ever turn to that can of pre-made biscuit dough instead. While I missed a bit of the buttery goodness that a more traditional biscuit recipe imparts, this biscuit should be taught to every grade-school child in America so they know how to make this one American mainstay well.
Biscuit recipes strike me with both longing and fear. What could be more homey than eating hot biscuits slathered with butter? Yet, I’ve tried many biscuit recipes and I’ve been disappointed a lot. I always fret that the ingredients aren’t at the right temperature, that I’m handling the dough too much, or that the biscuits won’t rise and end up as proverbial hockey pucks. But this recipe has put me on the road toward biscuit confidence.
The dough came together using just the amount of heavy cream called for in the recipe, and it held together well—not too much unincorporated flour, yet not smooth like a bread dough. The use of the word “shaggy” by the author is a good description. A quick bake time had me enjoying light, tasty biscuits in less than 25 minutes.
This recipe is about as simple as it gets: Two ingredients are mixed together to become magically light and flavourful biscuits. The recipe takes no time at all to put together.
I chose to make the soft exterior version, which turned out so light and tender. The folding of the dough is almost like creating puff pastry, layer upon layer. I used the three-fold technique, and the biscuits were as light as can be. They’re heavenly with homemade jam.
Quick and easy enough to make for a last-minute addition to dinner, or as a warm treat at breakfast on a weekend morning.
Needing one more dish to round out a meal of barbecued chicken, I turned to this simple recipe. Your guests will think you were hard at work, when in reality, it took you about 15 minutes and two ingredients to make fluffy, light, and perfect biscuits.
Watch the color carefully while baking, as these can go from light golden brown to overdone in minutes. In fact, I’d place them in the top third of the oven, not on the top rack.
Additionally, my yield was only 8, but they did snuggle perfectly in an 8-inch round cake pan. And yes, the bottoms will benefit from a cookie sheet under the pan to keep them from browning too quickly.
Just as Nathalie Dupree promises, this biscuit is a snap to make. It comes out very tender and very delicious. The recipe is written perfectly. The baking time was spot on as well.
Folding the dough over twice makes the biscuits easier to split open. I spoke to Nathalie about the recipe and she gave me some tips: 1) Use a very large bowl. This makes the mixing of the dough very quick, so you don’t overmix it, ensuring a tender biscuit. 2) The dough doesn’t need salt if you’re using self-rising flour. 3) If you can’t find White Lily or Martha White brands of flour, just decrease the amount of flour by 2 tablespoons to mimic Southern flour. Or, use self-rising cake flour, and you won’t have to decrease the amount of flour. I love this biscuit, and you will, too!
I live in the South, so I love my biscuits. For the longest time, I was afraid to make biscuits because I’d heard so many horror stories of hockey pucks masquerading as a bread source. If this describes your experience, then wait no longer! This recipe is super simple, easy to understand, and make. The biscuits had a very tender crumb, and if you want to cut them in half, make sure to go for the thicker dough, or they’ll disintegrate when cut.
I didn’t have self-rising flour, but I made my own. Also, I like my biscuits a little sweet, so I’d add 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar in the future. Herbs and a dash of powdered mustard are also great ways to change up the flavor.
I liked these biscuits, but have some caveats about the recipe. I’m always a little annoyed by recipe claims of two or three ingredients, when one of those ingredients itself has multiple ingredients. Just saying.
To make the self-rising flour, I used the following: 2 1/4 cups bleached all-purpose flour, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of baking powder. I basically took these proportions from my old standby James Beard version of cream biscuits, which is essentially the same (but in my memory, easier to follow), right down to the way soft-sided or crispy biscuits are produced.
That said, these were perfectly simple and quite light and tasty. I expected that, since I’ve made them for 40-plus years. Use a light touch when blending. I don’t think the “clumpy” instruction is necessary, but I guess if you had too little cream, you may need that as a visual to indicate the dough is too dry in spots.
I made my biscuits giant-sized. I was intrigued by the suggestion that a half-inch biscuit and a 1-inch biscuit could both be baked for 10-14 minutes. It turns out that the 1-inch biscuits can’t. They needed another 4 or 5 minutes to cook through. I didn’t get the point of brushing them with melted butter and turning upside down. I prefer splitting and buttering each half, especially since the biscuits were really big.
I used to dislike biscuits because the only times I had them when growing up was when my mom made them with a mix. They were terrible, with a distinctive and unfortunate flavor that was hard to ignore. This is a simple recipe, and the resulting biscuits are surprisingly light and tender, with a subtle flavor that won’t overpower whatever you choose to eat with them.
This recipe is so easy to make, there’s no reason to ever use a mix. When I see my mother next, I intend on convincing her that this should be her go-to biscuit recipe. It’s as easy as the mix, and the results are significantly better tasting—and I’ll no longer have to claim that I’m on a low-carb diet when my mom serves them. Win-win-win.
While this recipe is very simple, the results are delicious. I chose the crisp version, so I followed the suggestion to have space between them on the cookie sheet. One additional note about baking is that if you use a dark baking sheet, the biscuits will bake quicker. It really is important to rotate the pan during baking so all of the biscuits brown evenly.
What I loved about the recipe is that you could serve hot biscuits at one meal and, if you had any left over, you could use the biscuits for strawberry shortcake. A great recipe that I’ll add to my cookbook.
Easy peasy, baby! I can make and bake these biscuits while half asleep on a Sunday morning. I love that. These biscuits are airy, releasing a puff of steam when the crisp outside is broken. This makes them the perfect foil to mop up a dish with gravy or a creamy sauce.
These biscuits paired beautifully with my custardy, small curd, scrambled eggs, and I was tempted to make sausage gravy because I just know this is the right biscuit for the gravy’s density. We love biscuits with our holiday meals, and the absence of shortening in this recipe lightens up the biscuits, making them perfect to serve with a buttery turkey and all of the holiday fixings.
Simple and delicious! Only two ingredients, and the self-rising flour does all of the work.
Make sure you get the dough to the correct consistency, and be especially sure that all of the flour is moistened as you mix it with the cream. I had to use about 1 tablespoon of the reserved cream to get a wettish dough, as specified in the recipe. After mixing, my dough had a lot of clumps, but folding helped get a smoother consistency. Before shaping, I folded the dough three times. Baking time and yield were exactly as stated in the recipe.
The biscuits were a quick stir of the heavy cream, fold a few times, and roll out the beautiful dough. They rose so nice and high, I separated them to get more of a crisp and double panned them to not brown so fast. This was a good hint. I will fix these again.
This morning we had fluffy scrambled eggs between our cream biscuits. Hot from the oven a nice smear of butter, the biscuits made us all content. I would also add cheese and fresh herbs to this to jazz it up for brunch the next time.
These cream biscuits were extremely easy to bake up and resulted in a delicious, fluffy biscuit that will easily replace the typical “pop open” biscuits that I typically prepare. I think that the next time we make them I will add a little something (i.e. cheese and/or garlic powder) for additional flavor but this is an excellent basic recipe.
Great biscuits! These are so crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. Like what you would expect biting into a cream biscuit.
These are quick, easy, and fast, though they may need to be baked 1 to 2 minutes longer than suggested.
The recipe is certainly as easy as it purports to be. The biscuits rose and browned perfectly. I used the cake pan method and I didn’t have any issues with over-browning on the bottom. I served the biscuits with butter and raspberry jam.
But eek! My recipe only yielded 9 biscuits!
This recipe is simple and for most part it works as the author has described. A lot would depend on the flour. Not living in the US, my flour had a little bit more fiber and I had to use 1 and 3/4 cups cream to get the dough moist. The biscuits rose very well and were golden and crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The second batch with a few extra tablespoons of cream was a bit dense though they did rise well. The recipe will work very well with all-purpose flour of lower protein content commonly available in the states.
It was hard to believe these biscuits only had 2 ingredients. They were so light and fluffy with a slightly crunchy buttery exterior, in my mind the perfect biscuit. It was such an easy recipe with amazing results I am tempted to make them much more often than I should! We have neighbors who make honey which was perfect paired with the warm biscuits. This recipe is a treasure.
This is a great recipe if you want to make some easy biscuits with little effort and don’t want to deal with shortening or measuring.
The recipe was well written and descriptive, and went through each step, including how many times to fold the dough, which was helpful. Thankfully I did not have shaggy or clumpy dough! Rather it was smooth and easy to work with. I like thick biscuits, so I rolled out the dough to about 3/4 inch and it yielded 7 biscuits and one monster biscuit with all the scraps. It’s nice not having to use a rolling pin, too.
The baking time was perfect. I had never thought to turn the biscuits upside down to cool, but I suppose it keeps them from sinking. My biscuits stayed high and fluffy. They were great hot, especially with some blueberry jam! My family thought they were great and didn’t notice the lack of butter or shortening in these biscuits. It’s an easy beginner recipe. I prefer to make biscuits with butter, however, it’s good to know that one could pull off a passable biscuit with just self-rising flour and cream.
Someone once told me that, “a biscuit without butter can not be a biscuit.” Having encountered this recipe, I beg to differ. This is an easy to make, delicious biscuit that even the most skilled cook can be proud of.
I can’t believe how good these biscuits are with only flour and cream. Simple but divine.
I didn’t use a metal spatula to move the biscuits to the pan, I just used my hands. I baked them in a cast iron skillet close together since we like a soft exterior. They came out perfect. I got 7 rather tall biscuits which were devoured.
We had them for breakfast with strawberry jam. I did toast a couple split open with some extra butter and we liked those, too. I’ll be making these again.