I have to be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of biscuits until I started making them from scratch. Most the biscuits at restaurants are more mushy than flakey, more greasy than buttery. The ones you cut and bake at home use shortening, which I find not as flavorful as butter. I know it sounds like a lot of effort to make these at home, but trust me, the difference is really worth the effort.
These biscuits are tender and moist. They are really creamy because the recipe calls for heavy cream instead of the usual buttermilk. They are also so flakey you can see the air pockets in between every layer.
Just like making scones and pie crusts, the key to making good biscuits is to use really cold ingredients. If the weather is hot, you will want to put the dough in the fridge whenever you are not working on it. You want to keep the butter cold (i.e. in solid form), so it creates lots of air bubbles (i.e. flakiness) when it melts in the oven.
I chose cheddar for this recipe, but you can use a combination of soft cheeses and herbs. I think cheddar and chives will make a good combination. As will goat cheese and dill.
I used a small round biscuit cutter. You can use the lip of a small glass. You can also cut the dough into squares, diamonds or triangles.
I usually like to find multiple ways to serve the things I make. I’d say you can pour gravy over these, or make sausage and egg sandwiches out of them, but they are really best served warm and by themselves. I literally popped these in my mouth one after one like candy.
Adapted from “Artisan Breads Every Day” by Peter Reinhart
- Lemon juice, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar (I used lemon juice), 2 tablespoons
- Heavy cream, 1 cup, plus a few more tablespoons in case the dough is too dry
- Unsalted butter, 1/2 cup (1 stick)
- All-purpose flour, 1 3/4 cups
- Sugar, 1 tablespoon
- Baking powder, 2 1/4 teaspoons
- Baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
- Cheddar cheese, 8 oz, grated (about 2 cups)
Place the butter in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to harden it.
Stir the vinegar or lemon juice into the cream to acidify it, then refrigerate it to keep it cold.
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl.
Set a grater over the bowl with the flour mixture. Unwrap the butter and grate it through the large holes into the dry ingredients, toss the butter threads in the flour mixture as you grate to distribute them. Use your fingers to separate and distribute the butter evenly, breaking up any lumps. Try not to touch the butter to much, so it stays cold.
Add the cream mixture and stir with a spatula until all of the flour is hydrated and the dough forms a coarse ball. If the dough seems dry, add another tablespoon or two of cream.
Transfer the dough to a generously floured work surface, then dust the top of the dough with flour. Working with floured hands, use your palms to press the dough into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick. With a rolling pin, roll the dough to about 1/2 inch thick, dusting the top and bottom of the dough with flour so it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin and the work surface.
Spread a quarter of the grated cheese on the dough. Fold the dough over on itself in three sections as if folding a letter. Rotate the dough 90 degrees, then once again roll it out to 1/2 inch thick, spread the cheese and fold into thirds. Give the dough another quarter turn and repeat this procedure again. Then, repeat one final time (four roll-outs in all).
After the fourth folding, dust under and on top of the dough, then roll the dough out to just under 1/2 inch thick. Use a round biscuit cutter to cut out round biscuits or use a knife to cut them into square or diamond shapes.
Set the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. In the meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Turn the oven down t0 450 degrees when you are ready to bake. Bake the chilled biscuits for 8 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet and bake for another 6 to 8 minutes, until they are golden on top. They should rise to about 1 1/2 times in height.
Place the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool for 2 minutes and serve.
I used a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter, which yielded 14 biscuits.
If you want to freeze the biscuits, bake them as described in the recipe, but only until slightly golden on top, about 5 minutes less than the full baking time. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool the biscuits thoroughly before wrapping them individually for the freezer. When you want to finish baking them, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place the frozen biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tops and bottoms are golden brown. Cool for five minutes before serving, allowing the heat to reach the center of the biscuits, warming them but not drying them out.