Fa la la! & Jammers

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Another wonderful Christmas has come and gone.  The holidays are undoubtedly my favorite time of year and Christmas has always been a magical holiday in my family and this year was no exception.  Beginning with our tree-cutting expedition a few weeks ago and ending with a fabulous day yesterday, it was a December for the ages.

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We spent a few relaxing days in the mountains last week, enjoyed our first day o the slopes for the season and returned home on Christmas Eve for a frantic baking and wrapping binge, a Christmas Eve gathering at a dear friend's home, and a trek to Palmer Lake where we spent Christmas.  Rob agreed to stay up late to help me roll out and form the cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning and we marveled at my mom's decorations (truly unparalleled) and the uncanny way in which my parent's home seems as though it was made for Christmas.

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The ground at my parent's house was covered by a blanket of snow thanks to the snow storm we had earlier this week, and even though Christmas Day was sunny, it still looked like a  winter wonderland.  We devoured "jammers" and cinnamon rolls, enjoyed coffee with warm, frothy milk (note to self - add this to next year's wish list), tore into our stockings, slowly unwrapped presents (we are notorious for being the slowest family... there were Christmases when it took us a few days to open presents and I am an only child), took a mid-day hike with friends, and joined old friends for a (surprisingly competitive) game night.  What a day!

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As I was preparing baked goods for Christmas, I knew I'd make cinnamon rolls, one of my Dad's favorite treats.  My dear friend M visited two weeks ago and brought me a fantastic cookbook - The Grand Central Baking Book. I was flipping through it to find a recipe for cinnamon rolls but instead couldn't resist one for "Jammers" - biscuits with a jam-filled center.  So, even though there were only 4 people at Christmas, we had both cinnamon rolls and Jammers.

The Jammers were a HUGE hit.  Please make them!  They come together in a matter of minutes and I suspect you have everything you need to make them in your house already (I keep buttermilk around at all times -- if you don't, this will be the only ingredient you'll need to purchase).  These biscuits are melt-in-your-mouth delicious (particularly served straight from the oven) and the added touch of a bit of jam in each bite is divine.  

A few thoughts about the Jammers... first, I made the batter through step 3 below on Christmas Eve and mixed in the buttermilk and formed the Jammers on Christmas morning.  The first step doesn't take long, but if you want these to be at their best, you should serve them fresh from the oven so remember that you can prep part of the recipe ahead of time.  Second, the Jammers grow quite a bit in the oven -- I'd say they almost double in size.  I used a 2" in diameter biscuit cutter and thought the jammers were the perfect size but feel free to use a larger cutter if you want bigger jammers.  Third, you can make the jammers up until the baking step, freeze them on a baking sheet and store them in a Ziploc or tupperware in the freezer until you want to actually eat them!  I found that the baking instructions were actually the same for fresh vs. frozen and I baked them straight from the oven without any defrosting.  


Grand Central Bakery Jammers

From The Grand Central Baking Book


4 cups (1 pound, 4 ounces) all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups (10 to 12 fluid ounces) buttermilk

About 3/4 cup good quality preserves or jam


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).  Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.

2. 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.

3. Dice the butter 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.

4. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in 1 cup of the buttermilk 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.

5. 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 to cut the jammers into circles at least 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.

6. 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.  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.  At this stage, you can freeze the jammers for future baking.  Place them in the freezer until frozen and then transfer them to an airtight container or Ziploc.

7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.  The jammers should be golden brown.

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