Biscuits, when done right, might be one of my favorite breakfast foods. I’m not talking about greasy, fast-food biscuits. I’m talking about biscuits that taste like the ones your grandma makes. For me, that always involved a lot of butter. Until just a few days ago, I never considered making biscuits without butter (and buttermilk, for that matter). That’s one of the reasons I love Baking Illustrated so much. I was reading through it on Friday and found the most wonderful recipe for cheddar biscuits. Much to my surprise, the biscuits were made only with heavy cream. Of course, there’s a recipe for buttermilk biscuits in there, too, but I was intrigued by this recipe. I’ve made cream scones before, so I’m not really sure why the idea of cream biscuits never crossed my mind, though I’m guessing part of the reason has to do with the aforementioned buttery buttermilk biscuits my grandma makes. Friday night, I went to bed thinking about these biscuits. I made them first thing Saturday morning and could have eaten them the rest of the day.
These biscuits were some of the best biscuits I’ve ever had and certainly the best ones I’ve ever made. There was something about the cheese that just transformed them. Instead of being shredded, the cheese is actually cubed. It melts beautifully, giving you plenty of cheesy goodness in every bite. The biscuits were so fluffy and rich that I couldn’t believe they didn’t have butter. In fact, they were so delicious that we didn’t even need to spread butter on the cooked biscuits. The best part about these is how quickly they can be put together. I don’t have any problems cutting butter into flour (which is the method for making buttermilk biscuits). However, adding cream to a few dry ingredients is about as easy as it gets, and that’s perfect when you’re in a hurry or just really hungry. So while I won’t be giving up buttermilk biscuits, it’s nice to have this recipe for when I need a quick biscuit fix without much work.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup cheddar cheese, cut into ¼-inch cubes
1½ cups heavy cream
Heat oven to 425º and place oven rack in the upper-middle position. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the cheese. Pour in 1¼ cups of the cream and stir with a wooden spoon for about 30 seconds, or until a dough forms.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, leaving behind any dry pieces of flour in the bowl. In tablespoon increments, add up to the remaining ¼ cup of cream to the dry bits left in the bowl, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition. Once the bits are moistened, add them to the rest of the dough. Knead by hand for about 30 seconds, just until the dough is smooth.
To make biscuit rounds, pat the dough into a 1-inch thick circle. Using a biscuit cutter, cut the biscuits and place on the baking sheet. Push together the remaining dough and cut more biscuits. You should have 8, but that will depend on the size of your biscuit cutter. Alternately, press the dough evenly into an 8-inch cake pan. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and cut into 8 wedges using a sharp knife or bench scraper.
Bake the biscuits for 18 minutes. Serve immediately.