Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Among my sorrows is the fact that husband is not fond of biscuits. He is not enticed by fresh-baked biscuits with strawberry jam. He does not like them them slathered in gravy. He does not much care for their British cousin, scones with currants and clotted cream. He is more or less impervious to the appeal of the biscuit family of baked goods.
This is crazy. As a southern girl, I honestly don’t think I ever met anyone before him who doesn’t like a good biscuit. He did not confess his lukewarm feelings toward biscuits until after we were married, so I had been ignorantly and happily baking them for years. Sure, I noticed that I tended to eat the bulk of them, and that we had to throw away stale leftover biscuits with surprising regularity, but I thought he was just being health-conscious.
I wish it were health consciousness, because then, I could throw in some wheat flour and pretend to reduce the fat and call it a day. Biscuits are dead easy and among the most rewarding of quick baked goods because people believe there’s some trick to them, or that they’re hard to make. I think this is because you have to cut fat into flour, as with pie crust, but honestly: biscuits are not a challenge, or they won’t be after you’ve made them a couple of times.
To make an increasingly long story short, I was puttering around the house yesterday when a full-force biscuit craving hit. Since I already had a house full of baked goods, the idea of making a full batch seemed ridiculous – yet the craving would not subside.
I decided to make a batch of mini-biscuits just for me. But biscuit recipes don’t come in mini-proportions. Also, I was feeling too lazy to consult a cookbook.
Yesterday was a holiday, so please refrain from judging.
The following is less of a recipe than a small-quantity biscuit preparation strategy. But it worked! It worked really well.
This one goes out to all you biscuit-loving souls who live alone, or, more vexingly, live with those who are unreceptive to the biscuit’s appeal.
Sour Cream Cheddar Cheese Biscuits
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, cold
2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese (or more if you prefer)
2-3 tablespoons sour cream
¼ cup milk, plus more to thin dough as needed
Preheat oven to 375 (my oven 350, but it runs hot). In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt, and baking powder until blended. Cut butter into flour mix using a fork, pastry cutter, or your hands (which is my preferred method) until butter is in pea-sized pieces. Add cheese and stir lightly to blend.
Stir together the sour cream and milk in a small cup. If you don’t have sour cream, you could also use plain milk, but all-milk biscuits will be less tender and flaky. I’ve never tried yoghurt, but I think it would work pretty well in a pinch. I’m going to be iconoclastic and argue that sour cream makes a nicer biscuit than buttermilk, with the added bonus that if your kitchen is like mine, you’re much more likely to have it on hand.
Add milk/sour cream mix to flour mixture and stir lightly until blended. If it is too dry – and I think it will be – add more milk until the dough is a manageable consistency. I think I ended up using close to half a cup milk total, but I wasn’t measuring.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead a half-dozen or so times. Because this makes such a small amount, you’d end up wasting half of the dough if you tried to roll and cut these with a biscuit cutter. Pat into a rectangle about an inch and a half thick. Slice into four pieces about 2” wide. Like so:
Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly brown. Makes 4 biscuits.
These were just the thing to address my cravings without causing my fridge to overflow even further with too-tempting baked goods. They achieved the richness and airy flakiness that make biscuits a king among pastries.
I made these with a mild, white cheddar, which is why you can’t see any cheese in the pictures. The cheddar flavor is quite subtle. If you wanted a cheesier biscuit, you could double the cheese or instead use sharp cheddar. You could also use another kind of cheese. I bet Gouda would be really nice.
They were easy to throw together, so if you’re aim is to have a nice bread to go with dinner, these would be perfect. They would complement a nice bowl chili in place of the usual cornbread. Two people could easily polish them off in one meal. Of course, you could also double or triple the recipe if you’re cooking for a crowd.
Printable recipe here.