CHEDDAR THYME BISCUITS
Updated: Mar 29, 2021
My first culinary job was as an assistant baker in a San Francisco restaurant. I remember waking up in the wee hours of the morning (5 am and sometimes earlier) to prep the lunch and dinner bread baskets. It was and still is rare for a restaurant to have a department dedicated to bread baking. I consider myself very lucky that it was my first restaurant opportunity, but make no mistake the work was intense and fast paced. It was overwhelming to say the least, but now I look fondly on those early days because it was the start of my bread baking journey.
The first recipe I learned to make was a biscuit recipe. They were so buttery and flaky and all the cooks and chefs would grab one off the edge of the tray when they came out of the oven. Since then, I have tried many different recipes, but it remains my favorite biscuit recipe. I remember making 16 full sheet pans everyday, so converting the recipe took a bit of tweaking. Scaling it down to an at home recipe took some work but I finally got the right proportions. I also decided to make an addition of Cheddar and thyme to the dough. I love that flavor pairing, and I’m so excited to share this recipe with you. It’s savory, cheesy, flaky with just a touch of sweetness.
My family didn’t use thyme at all growing up, so to me it was so exotic. It is so versatile and I end up using it in sweet and savory preparations. It’s also one of the few things that I can grow in my garden. I not only added fresh thyme leaves to the biscuit dough, but I also infused a spicy honey with a few sprigs. The honey makes it even more special. Imagine splitting open a warm biscuit, spreading some butter on it and drizzling some of that spiced honey over. You will be so happy you did. This is a great breakfast idea and if you want to make a sandwich out of them, cut them out a little bigger and fill it with ham, fried chicken, eggs or roasted veggies. Doesn’t that sound like a lovely brunch addition?
The recipe itself is pretty simple and so is the method. To achieve a light, flaky biscuit the most important thing is to choose the best ingredients you can find. This is usually the case, but with just a few ingredients in the recipe, picking the best quality ingredients is key. I reached for Cabot Creamery Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese because I didn’t want to mess around. It has a full bodied flavor with a touch of citrus. Exactly what I needed to add to these biscuits. You can definitely taste the quality and it’s no surprise their cheeses are award winning. Cabot Creamery is a co-operative of farm families in NY and New England. They are a certified B Corp and dedicated to their community and the environment.. That type of commitment really shine through in their products.
Don't be worried if you haven’t had success with biscuit making in the past. Here are some tips before we get started
Use very cold butter. Sometimes I pop the butter into the freezer for a few minutes. It needs to be super cold because when the butter hits the hot oven, it creates pockets of steam that will create lovely, flaky layers. Which brings us to the next tip.
Hot Oven. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. A hot oven will ensure a nice rise in your dough.
Buttermilk. It will give you a tender and flavorful biscuit with just a hint of tartness.
Light Hand. Don’t over-mix the dough. Mix just until it comes together and then gently press the dough together on your work surface. I know it's tempting to add more buttermilk but less is more here. The dough will be shaggy but that’s what you want. Otherwise you will have a tough biscuit.
CHEDDAR THYME BISCUITS
(makes 12 biscuits)
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and cold
1 cup Cabot Creamery Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 cup buttermilk
egg wash, for brushing on top
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Spiced Honey, recipe below
butter, for serving
Preheat your oven to 400° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Using 2 forks, pastry cutter or your finger tips cut the cold butter into the flour mixture. Using my hands is my preferred method. It really lets you get a feel for the dough. Gently press the butter into the flour mixture with the tips of your fingers until you have pea-sized lumps.
Stir in the cheddar cheese and thyme leaves. Slowly add the buttermilk and gently stir the mixture together. The dough will be very shaggy at this point. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and push and press the dough together. Continue doing this until no dry pieces remain. As you press the dough together form it into a rectangular shape with a 1 1/2 inch thickness. It's important not to overwork the dough.
Using a sharp knife or biscuit cutter, cut out approximately 12 biscuits. Place the biscuits on the baking sheets and brush the tops with the egg wash.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with butter and Spiced Honey
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until it comes to a low boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes stirring the mixture as it cooks. Remove the thyme and take it off of the heat. Allow the honey to cool before serving.
Freeze both unbaked and baked biscuits for up to 3 months
Instead of buttermilk, use whole milk
Store Spiced Honey in a jar for up to 3 weeks