A couple of years ago, I remember Jane posed a question that we’ve since revisited from time to time for fun, “If you could eat one thing as much as you want without any consequence, what would it be?” I can’t remember my original response but I’m betting it was either donuts or French fries. Regardless, I can remember hers as clear as the day. Biscuits. What followed that conversation was several months of Jane testing biscuit recipes from every cookbook and food blog she could find. What I learned immediately as the person eating the majority of those biscuits is there are always consequences to eating a lot of biscuits and they’re found directly around the waistline.
Of all the different biscuits we tried, the one we kept coming back to was a hearty cheddar thyme biscuit. It’s the one Jane makes for Thanksgiving and Christmas and the recipe our friends ask us for when they come over for dinner. This recipe is based off of Grace Parisi’s Herb Gruyere Biscuits found on Food & Wine’s website. Over time, Jane started tweaking the recipe. A bit more thyme, a whole lot of pepper, and a kicky aged white cheddar instead of gruyere is how we make them now. The other change we made was to use whole milk instead of buttermilk. The main reason is convenience really. We don’t keep buttermilk in the house all that often but we always have whole milk. We also found that it didn’t really change the core textures or flavors all that much. Nevertheless, you can use either based on your preference.
There are a million different ways to do an egg wash for these biscuits but my most favorite of all is the one we’ve provided. It’s a tip we learned from the Huckleberry cookbook and it has never failed us to produce the brownest, shiniest biscuit tops. More browning is more flavor, so I urge you to try this trick!
Try this biscuit recipe and your answer to our hypothetical prompt might be the same too. These biscuits take less than 10 minutes to whip up and are a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Pro tip – you can bake off just two or three of these biscuits and freeze the rest if you want to really exercise restraint. We’ve learned the hard way that a batch of these won’t last long in our household of two.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 cup shredded aged cheddar
10 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into
1/2-in cubes and chilled
1 cup whole milk, chilled
1 egg (egg wash)
1 tbsp heavy cream (egg wash)
Pinch of salt (egg wash)
Flaky salt (sprinkling on top)
Preheat the oven to 425 F and position rack to either the middle or lower third.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add thyme, cheese, and black pepper and mix together until thoroughly combined.
Using a pastry blender, two knives, or two very cold hands, add the chilled butter, and cut into the flour/butter mixture until the butter comes together in pea size clumps. You don’t want to mix the butter too thoroughly as this is what creates flakiness. Once you have the crumb, add the milk and mix together using a wooden spoon until completely combined.
On a floured work surface, turn the dough and knead 2-3 times to bring the dough together. Pat the dough into a 1/2 rectangle.
Cut out 3-4 biscuits using a floured 3 inch round biscuit cutter. Using the leftover dough, reform to a 1/2 thick round and cut out the remaining biscuits. Transfer the biscuits to a large baking sheet lined with parchment.
Quickly whisk together egg, heavy cream, and salt in a small bowl and brush the tops with egg wash. Sprinkle each top with a pinch of flaky salt.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove and allow to cool on a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Freeze for later – Unbaked dough can be stored in a large zippered plastic bag or an airtight container for up to one month. No need to thaw. You can bake these straight from the freezer by adding a few minutes of baking time.