Secret-Ingredient Biscuits (aka James Beard's Shortcakes)
Elizabeth Barbone - April 30, 2014
As always, there were too many hard-boiled eggs in my refrigerator after Easter. This year, however, I knew what I wanted to do with them. I wanted to try a cookie recipe that used hard-boiled egg yolks. The recipe was in...wait. Where was that recipe?
After searching, I still couldn't find the cookie recipe. But one recipe came up during my search that grabbed my attention: James Beard's recipe for Strawberry Shortcake. Like the (imagined?) cookies of my memory, these shortcakes used hard-boiled egg yolks. Since I love biscuits and shortcakes more than I love cookies, the decision was simple. It was time to make shortcakes!
With the exception of the hard-boiled eggs, the ingredients were fairly standard for shortcake (flour, butter, lots of baking powder) but the method intrigued me. It called for chilling the dough for an hour before baking. Usually I whip together shortcakes and pop them immediately into a hot oven. I couldn't wait to see how these shortcakes turned out.
The dough came together easily. For the flour, I simply used white rice flour and potato starch. After cutting the butter into the flour, I added the egg yolks and cream, as directed. Other than some small pieces of yolk that speckled the dough, there was not a big difference between this dough and other shortcakes I've made. So far, so good.
The shortcakes baked up light and tender and thanks to the generous amount of cream, they were rich. The only problem? Those specks of yolk. Since I stirred the yolk into the batter along with the heavy cream, it didn't really incorporate evenly into the dough. I wanted to fix this because I doubted the shortcakes were supposed to be dotted with yolk the way chocolate chip cookies are dotted with chocolate chips.
For the next batch, I added the egg yolks when the butter was almost fully cut into the flour. Once the butter and yolk were incorporated, I added the heavy cream. This worked. Bits of egg yolk no longer dotted the batter.
Once again, the biscuits baked up light and tender and were sturdy enough to withstand being split and topped with macerated strawberries. These shortcakes, in fact, were so tasty that we ate several with no topping at all. Oh, and that cookie recipe? I finally found it. Between that recipe and strawberry season coming into full swing, I have a feeling my refrigerator will once again be filled with too many hard-boiled eggs.