Breads and baked goods don’t have to be bland; try some of these black pepper-spiked biscuits as part of a soup supper, or fill a basket with them for a “big day” buffet. Although they’re at their best just minutes out of the oven, they can be made the night before or in the morning, and reheated just before serving.
1. Heat oven to 425° F. Sift flour and baking soda into a medium sized bowl. Use a fork to thoroughly mix in 1 1/2 tablespoons of the pepper, plus the sugar and fine sea salt. Stir in the cream until mixture forms a soft dough.
2. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and use floured hands to knead it gently 8 times.
3. Melt butter and let it cool while you pat out the dough into a 9-inch square that’s about 1/2 inch thick. Dip a rectangular cutter (about 2 3/4 by 1 3/4 inches in size) into flour and use it or a sharp knife to cut out as many rectangles as possible. Gather scraps into a ball, pat out dough and make more biscuits in the same manner.
4. Dip the tops of the biscuits into the melted butter (or use a brush). Arrange the biscuits buttered sides up and 1/2 inch apart on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt and remaining 1/2 tablespoon pepper. Bake in the middle of the oven until golden and cooked through, about 15 minutes.
5. Biscuits may be made 6 to 8 hours ahead and cooled completely then wrapped well and stored at room temperature. Just before serving, reheat biscuits in a 350° F. oven until warm, about 5 minutes.