Biscuits. Cheddar biscuits.
I’ve been on a warpath lately – luckily for you (and my roommates) this warpath is filled with fierce love, cold butter, and lots of shredding on a quest for my perfect cheddar biscuit. Through all my baking adventures, my mom always says, “If you only master good bread and biscuits, you’re set. Everyone will love you.” When it comes to these biscuits, I think I’m well on my way. Man, I hope my future husband isn’t gluten intolerant. That would be a deal breaker huge hurdle. “No bourbon” would also be a problem, but I suppose I can always make an Old Fashioned for one.
Biscuits used to scare me. I don’t know why, but I think it had something to do with all the fuss over the size of the butter and the speed at which you incorporate it into the dry ingredients so your hot little hands don’t melt the dang butter. I’m here to tell you, don’t be a scaredy cat like me – jump in the biscuit dough, the butter’s fine! …or something like that.
Fast to come together and no rest or rise time, biscuits are a dream bread. They successfully masquerade as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack. Sweet or savory? It’s a choose your own adventure sort of bread once you’ve mastered the basics. My great aunt made a mean biscuit, but this recipe works as a great base biscuit (just leave out the cheddar…although that seems foolish).
If you have the same fear of
the butter-mixing process that I used to have, don’t. You have the tools you need, and hey, if you have to make biscuits more than once, I promise your roommates will love your trial-and-error warpath. I’ve tried the trick of shredding frozen butter, but I prefer the larger pieces of butter in there – more room for goodness. I’ve also tried cutting the butter with two knives against each other, and that just didn’t feel like it was getting the job done. A pastry cutter sounds right up my alley, but surprisingly, it’s one of the kitchen gadgets I do not possess. Enter: your hands. (Well, my hands, but you’ll probably use yours.)
To help yourself out, make sure you cut the cold butter into small pieces (roughly half-inch cubes). Then toss them into your dry ingredients and break apart the butter quickly with your fingers. I like to think of it as a treasure hunt for nuggets of butter – when you have trouble finding the big pieces, stop. I always wanted to continue to find the slightly larger bits of butter, but trust me. Walk away. It’s not going to be uniform, and that’s ok. Some will be the size of peas and others, small pebbles. Then you’ll quickly mix in the liquid starting with a wooden spoon for a minute and then kneeding briefly with your hands just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Pat the dough into a disk about an inch and a half high, and start cutting.
No biscuit cutters?! A pint glass and a pairing knife will get the job done, but promise me you’ll get a biscuit cutter soon. Don’t listen to your friends – it’s not an extraneous kitchen gadget. You deserve it…just like you deserve a third biscuit. No one’s judging.
And when you’re done, you get to say, “BANG BISCUIT!”
*Important p.s.- Head on over to Fiesta Friday for more amazing cooking inspiration!
Here’s what I did (the 127th time):
Katie’s Cheddar Biscuits
*makes 10 large biscuits.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Whisk together in a medium bowl:
-3c. AP flour
-1T. 2t. baking powder
-1t. cream of tartar
Cut up into small cubes (roughly 1/2 inch):
-1 stick very cold unsalted butter
Working quickly, rub the bits of butter into the flour mixture using your fingers. When you have some the size of peas and others, small pebbles, stop! Don’t over work the pieces – if they get too small and melty, we won’t get that gorgeous puff and flakey layers.
-1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Using a wooden spoon, mix in and stir until shaggy:
-1/2 c. buttermilk
-3/4c. whole milk (you might need to add an additional +2T. depending on how dry your dough is)
Empty the dough out onto a floured work surface and kneed the dough until the flour is just incorporated (this shouldn’t go more than a minute – longer and you’ll melt the butter and the dough will get tough).
Press the dough into a flat disk, about 1 inch thick. Cut the dough into large biscuits. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet, brush the tops with whole milk or beaten egg (for a nice shine), and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm and enjoy them the same day!
French phrase for fun:
Le Petit Artichaut m’as manqué! Je suis occupé à profiter de DC avant de déménager!
I missed Le Petit Artichaut! I’m busy soaking up DC before moving!