Weekday Vegetarian: Cheese Biscuits
Photo Credit: Emma Alter
I've made a lot of biscuits in my time, and I think this is the nicest recipe I've used. The biscuits rose beautifully, were light and fluffy and had a terrific flavour. They were very easy to make. It all went into the mixer, a little bit of kneading, cutting them out and into the oven they went. So easy dads can help their kids make them for mom's breakfast on Sunday, which is of course, Mother's Day. My daughter put some homemade jam on them, my husband put some smoked salmon on them, but I thought they were delicious just the way they were.I learned something reading this recipe. I've always cut my biscuits out using a glass, because that's what my mother did. Turns out you need something sharp that cuts straight down, without twisting, so that the biscuits rise evenly. I don't have a biscuit cutter, so I pressed the dough into a rectangle and just used a sharp knife and cut them into triangles rather than getting round biscuits. It worked like a charm and the biscuits rose to lofty heights. Not only that, cutting them into that shape meant that I didn't have to re-roll the dough at all.
This recipe is from Food52.
3 1/2 cups minus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
9 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cold unsalted butter (use a good brand, like Plugra, with a high butterfat content)
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and put it in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes. In the meantime, cut the butter into chunks and leave out at room temperature (you want it malleable, but not soft).
2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat it to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the chilled dry ingredients, the cheese and the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for a few minutes, until the chunks of butter are no bigger than a large pea - or a small bean. (In the oven, the water in the chunks of butter creates steam, which in turn will creates lovely pockets of air within the biscuits.)
3. Add the buttermilk to the bowl and mix on low just until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a floured board, dust your fingers with flour and gently knead it a few times. Quickly and carefully pat the dough into a large rectangle about 1/2 an inch thick.
4. Dip a 3-inch round cutter with sharp edges in flour and then cut the biscuits using an even downward motion, without twisting the cutter. Transfer the rounds of dough to the baking sheets, leaving an inch or two of space between them. When you've cut the first batch of biscuits, gently pat the dough into another rectangle and cut a few more -- discard the dough or add the funky leftover shapes to the baking sheets after the second batch is cut (if you shape the dough a third time, the biscuits will be tough).
5. Beat the egg with a splash of water (if you're feeling fancy, you can then pass it through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of any clumps of egg white that might burn). Brush the tops of the biscuits lightly with egg wash and bake for about 20 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the biscuits are a deep golden brown. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets but serve them while still warm!