This recipe has its origins in the pioneer era and has been handed down through four generations in my family. My mother's classic biscuit is very much like the version that is eaten widely throughout the South. I believe that the sugar butter may come from Virginia, where my great-grandparents settled after emigrating from Wales. Like many truly great recipes, this is one that has survived many generations and carries with it the love with which the food is made.
The saltiness of the biscuit with the praline flavor of the sugar-butter syrup is a tasty treat not to be missed. Serve with scrambled eggs and fresh bacon. Set your table with special "Sunday breakfast" dishes that you use every Sunday. To round out the meal, brew a pot of black tea or fresh coffee.
For a shorter, richer biscuit, use 6 tablespoons butter in the dough. For a lighter, airier biscuit, use just 4 tablespoons.
MAKES 12 BISCUITS
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 - 6 tablespoons salt butter, at room temperature, plus 3 tablespoons melted butter
2/3 - 1 cup whole milk
Accompaniments: butter, jam, marmalade, and Sugar Butter (see below)
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a baking sheet.
2. Put the flour, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the room temperature butter and pulse until the mixture is the consistency of cornmeal.
3. Add 2/3 cup milk and pulse until just combined; add more milk a little at a time, if necessary, to make a soft dough. When the dough forms one large ball, remove from the processor.
4. Lightly knead the dough on a floured board for 30 seconds, roughly 10 folds. The dough should be moist and light; heavy dough will make tough biscuits. Gently form the dough into a ball and roll it out 1/2 inch thick on a floured board using a floured rolling pin. Cut the biscuits with a round biscuit cutter or with a mid-size drinking glass.
5. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from the oven, but keep the biscuits on the baking sheet until ready to serve.
MAKES ENOUGH FOR 12 BISCUITS
1 cup salted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream, or more if necessary
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then stir in the brown sugar and cook until the mixture bubbles. Add the cream, and turn down the heat to keep the cream just below a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes on low heat, until the sugar is dissolved and the flavors are balanced. The syrup with be creamy in texture. If you need more, just add a bit more cream.
2. Transfer the sugar butter to a gravy boat-type server. Use a small gravy ladle to serve the syrup.