- 2 cups (about 6 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
- 2 tablespoons parsely, freshly minced*
- 2 tablespoons basil, freshly minced*
- 1 teaspoon thyme, freshly minced*
- 1 teaspoon sage, freshly minced*
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour plus 1/4 cup (or more) for dusting and rolling
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen at least 20 minutes
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, cold**
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Position rack in center of the oven. Line two (2) large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium-size bowl, combine cheddar cheese, fresh herbs, and pepper; set aside.
In large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Using a coarse grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture. Using your fingers, toss and rub the butter into the flour mixture until evenly distributed (be careful not to overwork the dough). Stir in the buttermilk just until incorporated (dough will be very sticky).
Sprinkle a clean work surface with 1/4 cup flour. Scrape the dough onto the work surface; sprinkle the top of the dough liberally with flour. Using your hands, press dough into an 8-inch square, about 1/2-inch thick (do not knead). When needed, sprinkle more flour on work surface, as needed, to prevent the dough from sticking.
Spread 1/2 cup of the cheese mixture over 2/3 of the surface of the dough, leaving 1/3 of dough surface uncovered. Lift and fold the uncovered 1/3 over half of the cheese-covered portion. Then lift and fold the folded portion over the remaining cheese-covered portion, still using the bench scraper to help as necessary. You should end up with a long rectangle shape.
Sprinkle the dough with flour to prevent sticking. Press dough out again into an 8-inch square. Spread 1/2 cup of the prepared cheese mixture over 2/3 of the dough and repeat folding as before, and then pressing dough into an 8-inch square again. Repeat this process two (2) more times with the dough and cheese mixture.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 10-inch square. Using a sharp knife, cut into 36 small biscuits. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheets, 1-inch apart. NOTE: If your kitchen is hot, place the pans (with the biscuits) in the refrigerator to chill while preheating the oven.
If you need to hold the uncooked biscuits, the cut dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 hour.
Bake biscuits, one baking sheet at a time, approximately 10 minutes or until golden on top and tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let biscuits cool on the baking sheet at least 5 minutes. Serve warm.
If desired, cool the biscuits completely, and then rewarm biscuit in a 400 degree F. oven for 3 minutes before serving.
To freeze: After cutting them into biscuits, place the biscuits in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Freeze until firm, then wrap in a single layer in aluminum foil, and then enclose in a resealable plastic freezer bags. Biscuits may be frozen up to 2 weeks. To bake, place frozen biscuits 1-inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets and let thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Let biscuits stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before baking as directed above.
Makes 36 small biscuits.
* You can substitute 2 tablespoons dried herbes de Provence in place of the fresh basil, thyme, and sage. Also feel free to substitute any dried or minced fresh herb that you desire.
** Learn how to make a Buttermilk Substitution.
Source: I slightly adapted this recipe by Peter Reinhart. The recipe appeared in the November 2009 issue of Bon Appetit magazine.
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