When I say “biscuit”, what comes in most of our minds is a fully crisp delight. But in the “Southern” American food it is actually crisp and flaky on the outside but has a soft, fluffy, moist inside. Totally ironic from what most of us eat out of the regular packets of biscuits.
In the South, they mainly make savoury biscuits and it is usually served with meat gravy. But since I’m a vegetarian, I like to serve it with a good tomato basil sauce or if you are lazy, you could just serve it with tomato ketchup.
The buttermilk makes it fluffy, moist and gives a slight tang. I used a half and half blend of wholewheat flour and plain flour. The cheddar cheese gives it a sharp edge from the boring biscuits. Make sure you use a good quality cheddar as it is the hero of the dish.
NOTE– Make sure all your ingredients except salt, sugar and baking powder are cold. This will make a good biscuit.
Ingredients: (Makes 5-6 biscuits)
- Plain/ All purpose flour- ½ cup + extra for dusting
- Wholewheat flour- ½ cup
- Salt- ½ teaspoon
- Sugar- ¼ teaspoon
- Baking powder- ½ teaspoon
- Cold unsalted butter- 75 g; cubed
- Buttermilk- 100 ml (Nearly half cup)
- Grated cheddar cheese- ¾ cup
- Milk- for brushing
NOTE– To make your homemade buttermilk, mix ½ cup of thick milk and ½ tablespoon of lemon juice. Let this sit for 10 minutes and then place in the fridge till further use.
Preheat oven to 200°C. To ½ cup of grated cheese, add a tablespoon of flour and gently toss the cheese. Add the plain flour, wholewheat flour, salt and sugar to a bowl. To it add the baking powder and give it a good whisk. Finally add the cubes of butter to it.
With the help of the tips of your hands, gently rub the butter against the flour. Do this until you get a slightly crumbled mixture. It is good if you have small chunks of butter because it melts while baking giving a lovely crust. Add half of the buttermilk and try to bring the mixture together gently without kneading. If it looks a bit too crumbly, add little bit more buttermilk. Add just enough to get the dough together. Make sure you do not over mix the dough.
Add the flour dusted cheese and gently fold the dough 2-3 times to make sure it is mixed in well. Flour your work surface with plain flour and tip the dough onto the work surface. Fold the dough 3-4 times making sure you don’t overwork the dough as it may lead to a tough cookie. With a rolling pin dusted with flour, roll the dough to 3/4th of an inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter or any small round object, cut the dough into rounds/ discs.
Dust the baking tray with flour. Place the cut out rounds of dough a little far apart. Brush the discs with milk. Sprinkle a bit of salt over each of the discs. Top the discs with the left over 1/4 cup of cheese. Brush a bit of milk over the cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 180°C and bake for a further 10-12 minutes or until crisp and light golden in colour. I brush the biscuits with milk once at the half way point as well. Insert a sharp, small knife into the centre to check if they are cooked and not doughy. Cool for 7-8 minutes. Then using a spatula, remove them and place over wire racks. The bottom should be a nice golden brown.
Serve while still warm with marinara sauce or ketchup.