Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Biscuit Quest: Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

Cheddar Biscuits hot out of the oven.

As fall aproaches, we are able to enjoy warm comfort food like soups, stews and chowders.  We want something warm in our hands and in our bellies.  Most of these are a complete dinner in a bowl, but I am always trying to think up sides to go with them.  I still like to serves salads and fresh vegetables in the winter months and the kids love it if I make homemade biscuits or rolls. 

Last year I went on a biscuit "quest" hunting far and wide for the best biscuits I could find.  I tried every recipe I could get my hands on (hence the reason Ma and Pa Walls had to go on a diet the following spring).  But it was all for a good cause, to find the perfect biscuit and share them with you!  OK, maybe I was a little selfish and wanted to have the perfect biscuit too. 

As you probably know, there are different types of biscuits.  One type uses baking powder to make them rise, another uses yeast as the leavening and there are even drop biscuits that require a sticky dough that can be baked or fried.  Yeast biscuits take a little longer to make than other types of biscuits.  I know, some people hear the word "yeast" and freak out!  "I can't make homemade bread!"  But it's really not as hard as you would think.  In fact, yeast biscuits are a good place to start if you are new to baking breads. 

Before my biscuit expedition began, my "go-to" recipe was actually derived from a scone recipe I recieved years and years ago.  I still love this recipe and use it all the time. In fact, my first discovery was I realized I had a great recipe for the "baking soda" biscuits.  I can make them sweet like scones or savory like the recipe I am about to post.  This recipe uses baking powder as it's leavening. 

Second, I found a couple of GREAT yeast biscuit recipes that are so good it will make you want to cry.  Not cry, boo-hoo, cry with joy!  So, I have to admit, side by side, I migth choose a yeast biscuit over the others.  Yeast biscuits are the ones that melt in your mouth when you eat them.  But, it's really not fair to compare the two.  Each biscuit is a unique creation and can be enjoyed for it's own yummy properties.  So, though I will post a recipe for yeast biscuits later, today I am starting with my old stand-by. 

These cheddar biscuits are crumbly and deliciously crunchy on the outside but moist and steaming on the inside when they come out of the oven.  They would go great with corn chowder or stew.  Today I will pass along my Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits recipe in hopes that you will begin your own biscuit journey!

I cut these into rectangles, but usually I make a large circle and cut them into wedges.

Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated sharp Wisconsin cheddar cheese
6 Tablespoons butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk
Lightly beaten egg with 1 Tablesoon water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Farenheit.  In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and cheese.  Cut in the butter with a mixer or a fork, until the dough is crumbly and the butter is the size of small peas.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk.  Mix only until roughly combined.

Dump the dough onto a floured surface and shape into a round disc. Roll into a small circle about the size of a pie plate.  Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into wedges like you would a pie.  Transfer the wedges to a lightly greased baking sheet.  Brush the tops of the biscuits with egg wash.  Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the tops are golden.

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