Unlike yeast dough, which requires tough and persistent kneading by the cook, hands that touch biscuit dough have to be much gentler. For the tenderest biscuits, each kneading movement must be lighthearted and superficial, with the goal of just making the dough cohesive enough to be rolled (or patted) out. Homemade biscuits are usually a bit irregularly shaped after baking. Resist the temptation to work the dough aggressively, in the hopes of making the dough smooth. Most people would take a lopsided biscuit over a tough one any day. Whether sitting next to a mound of hot scrambled eggs at breakfast, or sharing the spotlight with a succulent roast chicken at dinner, these biscuits quickly become a family tradition, and one that always instills a wonderful sense of comfort and warmth.
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Line a thin, flat cookie sheet with un-greased parchment paper and preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place the biscuit mix into either a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the cubed butter and, if not using a machine, cut the butter into the dry mix, using a hand-held pastry cutter or your fingertips. If using a food processor, pulse the diced butter with the dry mix. Either way, blend until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Pour 1 1/4 cups of the heavy cream into the bowl of dry ingredients.
If working with a food processor: add the cream to the work bowl and give it several quick pulses, just until the dry mix is thoroughly moistened and able to be turned out and handled.
If making biscuits by hand: use a wide blending fork to, gently but thoroughly combine the wet and dry ingredients without overworking the mixture. As some of the flour becomes moistened by the cream, push that section of the dough to one side of the bowl and continue, until the dough resembles a moist, shapeless mass. (If dough seems too dry, add the remaining tablespoon or so of cream.)
Turn the mass out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it very gently, about 8 or 9 times, until it holds together (see the introduction of this recipe for more information.) Using a wooden rolling pin or a lightly floured hand, roll or pat the dough out to a thickness of about 1 1/2-inches. Using a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible, using a “straight down, up and out” motion. Lay the rounds on the prepared baking sheet and gather the scraps so you can gently knead them just to smooth the surface. Pat or roll the dough out again and cut out more rounds.
Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter and place the sheet into the center of the preheated oven until they have risen high and turn light golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot, with softened butter and/or jam.
The unbaked biscuits can be prepared 24 hours ahead and refrigerated, covered well with plastic wrap. For best texture, bring the chilled dough close to room temperature before brushing with butter and baking.