Sunday, April 29, 2012


My husband, as I've intimated many times in the past, is a baking maniac. Most weekend mornings the dogs and I stumble downstairs to find him measuring flour on his digital scale to feed his sourdough starter for bread, or to make the biscuits, scones, pancakes, waffles or whatever else has tickled his fancy. As I get the dogs' breakfast bowls lined up, I'm careful not to impede his progress, though they seem to delight in milling around our feet, making us dance to avoid a floury, kibble-and-fur-strewn catastrophe.

Just about the time they've finished gobbling their breakfast, I'm sitting down to a cup of coffee and the paper, the smell of baking goodness emanating from the stove, mixing with whatever tunes Townes or Eliades or Gillian is playing for us that morning.

Not content to rest on his laurels, lately Dave's put a new spin on his morning repertoire with the addition of some lovely, jam-studded biscuits known to Grand Central Bakery fans far and wide as jammers. The recipe is from the The Grand Central Baking Book by Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson, a tome widely admired by those with flour in their blood as well as those of us who weren't born with rolling pins in hand.

Grand Central Bakery Jammers
Adapted from The Grand Central Baking Book

Makes 10 to 12 jammers

4 c. all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter or margarine
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 c. (10-12 fluid oz.) buttermilk, milk or lactose-free whole milk
About 3/4 c. good quality preserves or jam

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.

Measure the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a bowl with high sides or the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine. Dice the butter (or margarine) into 1/2-inch cubes. Use your hands or the paddle attachment of the stand mixer on low speed to blend the butter into the dry ingredients until the texture of the flour changes from silky to mealy. There should still be dime to quarter-size pieces of butter remaining. If you’re preparing the dough the night before, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill overnight; otherwise proceed with the recipe.

Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in 1 cup of the buttermilk (or milk) in one addition. Gently mix the dough just until it comes together; it will look rough. Scrape the dough from the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add another 1/4 cup buttermilk and mix again to incorporate any floury scraps. The majority of the dough will come together, on the paddle if you are using a stand mixer. Stop mixing while there are still visible chunks of butter and floury patches.

The dough should come out of the bowl in 2 to 3 large, messy clumps, leaving only some small scraps and flour around the sides of the bowl. If the dough is visibly dry and crumbly, add up to 1/4 cup more buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing no more than one rotation after each addition.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Use the heels and sides of your palms to gather the dough and gently pat it into an oblong shape 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. It won’t look smooth or particularly cohesive; that’s okay. Use a biscuit cutter (or empty, clean tin can or wine glass) to cut the jammers into circles at least 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Layer the leftover scraps on top of one another and gently pat them out to a thickness of 1 1/2 to 2 inches and again cut into circles.

Use your thumb to make an indentation the size of a fifty–cent piece in the middle of each biscuit. While gently supporting the outside edge of the biscuit with your fingers, use your thumb to create a bulb–shaped hole that’s a bit wider at the bottom and that goes almost to the bottom of the biscuit (think pinch pot). Try to apply as little pressure as possible to the outside of the biscuit, to avoid smashing the layers, which are the key to flaky jammers. Fill each indentation with 1 tablespoon of jam and put the jammers on the prepared baking sheet with 1 1/2 inches between them.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The jammers should be a deep golden brown.


Becky said...

OMG! Thank you for sharing this cookbook! I load up on Grand Central bread each time we go to PDX. They're the best! I'm going to have to order this and see if I can duplicate it over here in Pendleton!!

Kathleen Bauer said...

But of course you can…flour, jam, milk…they have those way out in P-ton, right?