One family tradition which my husband tries to apply to as many holidays as possible is having eggs Benedict for brunch. It used to be an Easter treat, then started expanding to Mother’s Day, birthdays that fell on weekends, then any Sunday we could find an excuse to eat brunch at home. Like being hungry.
We were planning to have eggs Benedict for Christmas Day, but my husband had to work early enough in the morning that it would be tough to fit a sit-down breakfast in before he had to leave for work, so we had it on Christmas Eve morning when he had an extra hour before work started.
Eggs Benedict is only complicated because it has multiple elements that must be assembled, and it uses Hollandaise sauce. All the individual elements can actually be prepared in advance and plated just before serving. I am breaking the process up into several posts for ease of reading.
In honor of our first coastal holiday, we decided to use smoked salmon in place of the standard Canadian bacon (also because I eat salmon but not ham). You could also make it Florentine by using sauteed spinach, or replace it with a crab cake (yum!).
The other part we switched up is we replaced the English muffin base with a nice flaky biscuit. I have used refrigerated biscuit dough for this, but for this round I just made my favorite baking powder biscuit recipe. We have found that a biscuit is softer and tastier than most English muffins. To be fair, I considered making English muffins, but I was too tired.
Like pie and tart crusts, biscuit dough starts with dry ingredients, then cold butter is cut into the mixture before the wet ingredients are added. The small pieces of butter melt in the oven creating pockets of air which create flaky layers in the biscuits. Yum. Flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder are the dry ingredients. For moisture, you can use milk, buttermilk, or water. I have nothing against buttermilk, I just never have any on hand. I realize you can mix milk and lemon juice or vinegar, but I just use milk most of the time.
This particular recipe is from King Arthur Flour. I use it all the time as a base for variations (I’ve used part whole wheat flour, added herbs and cheese, cut them or hand-formed them, etc.), and it’s an easy recipe to scale. The original recipe makes 12 biscuits. Often, I make 1/6 of the recipe and have 2 biscuits with soup for dinner by myself. For eggs Benedict, I slice each biscuit in half, so 1/3 to 1/2 of the recipe should be just perfect.
Also, I don’t have a biscuit-cutter, so while I normally divide the dough and hand-form them, I wanted a more uniform shape for these. I flipped a drinking glass upside down and used that for a 3″ diameter circle, and it was the perfect size for my base layer.
My dough was a little thin, so I took the extra bits and smooshed them on the top of each biscuit. I didn’t quite get them as flat as possible, so they puffed into little hats during baking.
Oops. Lesson learned.
Baking Powder Biscuits
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Makes 6 biscuits
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter, cold
½ cup milk, buttermilk, or water
1.) Preheat oven to 425F. Add flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar to a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Cut butter into small pieces and add to dry ingredients. Cut into flour mixture using a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add liquid all at once and mix gently for about 20 seconds.
2.) Turn the dough out onto a clean floured surface and shape gently into a rectangle about ¾ of an inch thick. Fold the dough into thirds (like a letter going in an envelope) and use a rolling pin to roll it back to about ¾ of an inch thickness again.
3.) Lightly dust a baking tray with flour. Use a round cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out circles of dough, or cut the dough into 6 equal squares, and place them on the floured tray. Bake 15-20 minutes at 425F until lightly browned.