Cheesy Baking Powder Biscuits

Nothing says Wednesday morning like a fresh batch of … anything baked actually! Muffins, bread, scones … or the scone’s not so distant cousin: the baking powder biscuit. This recipe is particularly close to my heart because:
a) it is the first thing I ever baked on my own — back when I was a terribly mature 8 year old, making some terribly sophisticated goodies for the school Teddy Bear Picnic.
b) it is an incredibly simple, fast recipe that holds up to a lot of flavour tinkering.

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Pre-heat the oven to 210 C fan (230 C non-fan)
(this is according to my converting from 450 F, but to be honest, I might be tempted to turn it down another 10 degrees, as my biscuits came out more cooked than I am used to after the minimum cook time)

Ingredients:
250 g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
60 g butter
180 ml milk
80 g cheddar cheese

Start by grating your cheese (80 g) in nice coarse strips. I discovered this morning that I have a zester in my kitchen, but no coarse grater, so I experienced the joys of cutting cheese into something reminiscing the grated version.

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Set the cheese aside and sift your flour (250 g) into a large bowl then add your baking powder (1 tbsp) and salt (1/2 tsp).

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Mix your dry ingredients together then stir in your grated cheese. Add in your butter (60 g) — the colder the better — and cut in with a pastry cutter until evenly crumbly.

Note: if you use a softer butter or *shudder* soft fat like margarine, you may find you do not need as much milk, as it will hold together with more ease. While easier, it does not make as nice and flaky a biscuit as colder butter.

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Add your milk (180 ml) and stir. Once the milk is worked in a bit, I finish the mixing by hand, as it is quite a crumbly business and you don’t want to overmix! Over stirring leads to tough biscuits. *gasp of horror*

To finish off the mixing, gather your dough into a ball.

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Lightly flour a surface and flatten the dough out so it is around 2-3 cm thick. You can use a rolling pin and cookie cutters, but I am generally quite lazy so I often just use my hands to flatten it and a knife to cut it.

(Apologies, I forgot to take a picture of the rolled out dough, but here is the cut product before it hit the oven)

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Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes (I rarely leave them in longer than 12 minutes). These are best enjoyed right away, with butter, as they dry out quite quickly. If you keep them in a sealed plastic bag, they might be alright the next day as well.

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Variations:

  • Sometimes I roll the batter out to closer to 1 cm in thickness in a rectangular shape. I then cover the dough in a good layer of cheese (probably more than the 80 g called for), roll the whole thing into a log, then cut the log into 2-3 cm chunks. The end result looks like the cheese version of a cinnamon bun.
  • Omit the cheese: serve plain with strawberries and whipped cream for an easy but de-freaking-licious strawberry shortcake
  • Blend up sugar and cinnamon, then cream it with the butter to make a cinnamon-y biscuit.
  • Any nuts, sugars, dried fruits, chocolate chips, etc that catch your fancy. Remember to reduce the milk if you’re adding something liquid (ie: maple syrup)
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