My mom used to make these fruit shortcake biscuits when I was a child and I loved them as much then as I do now!
The most amazing thing about these old fashioned fruit shortcake biscuits is that they can be made sweet like I’m making here for shortcake. Or you can hold the sugar and use them for things like breakfast sandwiches and biscuits and gravy.
They are unbelievably amazing and they come together so fast – using things you probably already have in your kitchen!
What do I need for fruit shortcake biscuits
I mostly have salted butter on hand at my house. Because I use that, I normally back down the salt I add to the biscuits to just a pinch.
The butter has to be super cold so make sure it’s been in the fridge before you make them!
If you use unsalted butter, you’ll probably want to add at least 1/2t. of salt to the recipe.
For this recipe I use regular white sugar in the biscuit dough. For sprinkling on top, I always use turbinado sugar. It’s also called raw sugar and I love the big crystals that turn into the most perfect crunchy topping!
The baking powder is probably one of the most important parts of the biscuit! I always use double acting baking powder.
You’ll also want to make sure it’s nice and fresh. The last thing you want to do is spend all that time making biscuits and end up with little hockey pucks because your baking powder was expired!
Cream of Tartar
I searched and searched for what the cream of tartar does in these biscuits and I can’t figure it out. Most times, recipes call for cream of tartar to be used in conjunction with baking soda to provide the acidity to activate the baking soda. But with this one, we use baking powder.
Could you leave it out? I’m not sure! I bet they would be fine because there are plenty of recipes that don’t have it in there. But I always put it in because I tend to have it on hand. If you leave it out, let me know if they are yummy!
I always use unbleached flour for these. If I were to add whole wheat, I’d probably do 1/3-1/2 of the total amount of flour as whole wheat to keep them light and fluffy and not make them dense.
I usually use Himalayan sea salt, but you can use any salt you have around.
Nothing special about the eggs! However, the recipe says that they are optional, so if you leave it out, let me know what happens!
For the buttermilk, there are lots of ways to do this. You can add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice in the bottom of the measuring cup to add to the milk to make it “buttermilk”.
I LOVE cultured buttermilk and I think it is way better than the above method. I buy a quart every few months and then just fill a mason jar with 1c buttermilk, 3c milk. Then I put the lid on, shake it up, and leave it at room temperature for 24 hours. When that time is up, I pop it in the fridge. Essentially you’re using the store bought buttermilk as your bacteria culture like when you make kombucha (click to see how to make kombucha without a SCOBY).
Leaving it at room temperature gives it the warm temperature to begin to reproduce using the new milk as food. Now, I am not saying that the way I do it is super safe. I’m sure it’s best practices to keep it at a consistent temperature over a long period of time in order to make sure no bad bacteria begins to grow. However, this is how I’ve always done it so I thought I’d share.
Where did I get the recipe for Fruit Shortcake Biscuits?
As I mentioned earlier, I grew up on these biscuits. When my mom was in a hurry, she dropped them by spoonful onto a cookie sheet. Other times she patted them into a square like I do and cut them with a knife.
Any way you do it, they are SO good! Here’s photos of the recipe my mom texted me. I vary it a little bit, so you’ll want to use my version if you want them to turn out like I have them here.
But I wanted to make sure I gave credit to them! My mom’s friend was Mrs. Don E Lewis and it looks like these were award winning!
Cut in the cold butter to dry ingredients
I normally just keep mine in the fridge and then cut it into tablespoons and throw it in the flour that way. Some people go super hard core and put it in the freezer and then grate it in.
When you use a pastry blender, don’t use the kind that has wire blades. The cold butter bends the blades. Instead, use a pastry blender like this one. The sides are really strong metal and the bottom is just that metal cut and turned sideways. It stays REALLY stable and strong.
Cut the butter in until it resembles the size of peas.
Mix egg and buttermilk and add
Whisk the buttermilk and egg together and pour into the dry ingredients and butter. I used a danish whisk which I absolutely love. But you can just as easily use a wooden spoon.
Mix it until the dry ingredients seem mostly mixed in. Then turn it out onto your counter and work it gently until the dry ingredients are incorporated. You don’t want to work the dough too much, because it will develop the gluten and make the biscuits tough. But you do want it all to be evenly mixed.
Fold over, pat again – repeat 5-6 times
Pat the dough into a 1″ thick rectangle. Fold the dough in half. Do this 5-6 times total. This makes layers in your dough and allows the biscuits to get nice and tall.
You may need to sprinkle a little flour on the counter as you do this to keep it from sticking. Just don’t use too much because adding additional flour will make them tough.
Pat biscuits into a square and cut
Pat the dough into a rectangle again, about 3/4″ high. Then cut into squares with a knife. I use a long knife so I can just go down once and up once. You don’t want to saw back and forth, because that can seal the edges and keep them from rising a ton.
Alternately, you can use a biscuit cutter if you want them round. Do not twist the cutter as you use it. Just go down and back up to keep from sealing the edges of the dough. You may also want to dip the cutter into flour to keep it from sticking to the dough. Place the biscuit cutter as close as you can to the last biscuit you cut in order to minimize waste.
Once you have cut all of them out, gently gather your scraps and pat them out again. You don’t want to do this over and over because it works the dough too much and makes your biscuits tough. The less you handle the dough, the better.
Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar
Place them on a cookie sheet with a little room in between each of the biscuits. Brush the tops with buttermilk and give a generous sprinkle of raw sugar to make that crispy, sweet topping.
Bake the biscuits
Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Take out of the oven when they are golden brown. Let them cool a little, and then serve!
Serve your fruit shortcake biscuits!
I usually top these fruit shortcake biscuits with macerated strawberries and homemade whipping cream. It would be just as good with plain fresh berries. I think it would also be amazing with peaches that have been sprinkled with sugar and popped in the fridge for an hour or so. They release all that yummy juice and they would taste SO good!
Savory options for the fruit shortcake biscuits
I love to make these to go with sausage gravy for breakfast. Just omit the sugar in the dough and on top. I still brush them with buttermilk to give the tops a golden glow, but just leave out the sugar.
So are you ready for a good old fashioned fruit shortcake? Let me know how you like them!
Quick Old Fashioned Fruit Shortcake Biscuits
- 3 cups unbleached flour
- 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt (or just a pinch if you're using salted butter)
- 3/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup very cold butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 Tbsp buttermilk
- 2 Tbsp raw sugar
- Combine dry ingredients and sift. I usually use a mesh screened strainer and use a whisk to work the dry ingredients through.
Cut in butter
- Take the very cold butter and cut it into tablespoons, dropping into the flour one by one. Make sure they don't all clump together.
- Use a pastry blender and cut the butter into the dry ingredients until they are about the size of peas.
- Whisk the buttermilk and egg together. Stir into dry ingredients and butter until they are just combined.
- Bring the dough together lightly with your hands, incorporating all the dry ingredients.
- Pat the dough into a rectangle 1" thick and fold over. Repeat this process 5-6 times. This gets them to cook up nice and high.
Cutting and Cooking
- Pat the dough into a 3/4-1" rectangle and use a knife to cut it into rectangles. You may also use a biscuit cutter. If using a biscuit cutter, do not twist. Just press down and bring it back up. Twisting it seals the edges and doesn't allow it to raise as much. Similarly, I use a very long knife and just cut one time down and then back up instead of "sawing" them. Alternately, you can use a biscuit cutter if you want them round. Do not twist the cutter as you use it. Just go down and back up to keep from sealing the edges of the dough. Place the biscuit cutter as close as you can to minimize waste. Once you have cut all of them out, gently gather your scraps and pat them out again. You don't want to do this over and over because it works the dough too much and makes your biscuits tough.
- Put biscuits a little bit apart on a cookie sheet. Brush with buttermilk and give each one a generous sprinkle of raw sugar.
- Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes.
For Savory Biscuits
- For savory biscuits, omit the sugar in the batter and on top. You can still brush the tops with buttermilk. It gives it a great, golden top.