The Joy of Baking

Cranberry biscuits

(Karoline Boehm Goodnick for The Boston Globe)
By Lisa Yockelson
Globe Correspondent / November 24, 2010

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A basket of buttermilk biscuits dotted with dried cranberries is all charm at the holiday. These are made with buttermilk, a fine combination with butter and tart red cranberries. Good biscuits are best made without much handling. Roll or pat out the dough, then use a sharp knife to cut squares (no stamping and rerolling necessary). After the feast, a tender biscuit is perfect with turkey and a spoonful of cranberry sauce.

4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size chunks
1 1/3 cups buttermilk, mixed well
1 cup dried (but moist) cranberries
Extra flour (for sprinkling)
1. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Have on hand a large rimmed baking sheet.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, nutmeg, and sugar. Whisk to blend them thoroughly.

3. Scatter the butter on top. Using a pastry blender or two blunt knives, cut the fat into the flour until it reduces to pearl-size bits. With your fingertips, very lightly rub the mixture to reduce the fat to smaller flakes.

4. Pour in the buttermilk, scatter the cranberries on the mixture, and stir with a rubber spatula to form a dough. Knead it lightly in the bowl, giving it 8 quick turns.

5. On a lightly floured counter, divide the dough in half. Roll or pat each half into a 6 1/2- to 7-inch square. Using a flat knife, cut each square twice vertically and twice horizontally, to make 9 biscuits. Transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet, setting them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Cut rounds, in the same way. Transfer to the sheet.

6. Bake the biscuits for 15 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to wire racks. Serve warm.

Makes 18