Last week I mentioned a new nutrition project at BMC, for which I developed a recipe for buttermilk-marinated oven-fried chicken. Not only did a end up with a surfeit of chicken drumsticks (which I turned into harissa Buffalo chicken), I also had a half quart of buttermilk leftover. When I have buttermilk around the house, I never think pancakes, which I realize might be the go-to use for leftover buttermilk. Luckily (in this case), I decided to make biscuits, and these came out amazing.
This is kind of a workhorse recipe. We used the biscuits throughout the whole weekend; fresh biscuits hot out of the oven with butter for breakfast, toasted and sliced sandwiching some chicken with mayo and mustard for a quick and easy dinner, and then again the next morning, we made a scrambled egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. And not once did we feel like we’d overdosed on these flavorful, savory biscuits. Although they are best warm right out of the oven, I found that heating the oven to 200-degrees and re-warming the biscuits right before using them also seemed to do the trick. I’d just pop them in the oven for about 10 or 15 minutes, let them get a little toasty and crispy, then smear them with butter, mayo, mustard, or top with eggs.
I kept things simple by making drop biscuits, rather than rolling the dough out and cutting individual biscuits. I transformed a recipe from food52.com into a healthier by adding white whole wheat flour, cutting the fat by using less butter, cheese, and low-fat buttermilk, and reducing the amount of salt used. I also added thinly sliced green onions to complement the sharp cheddar cheese. While baking is certainly a science, these modifications still yielded a delicate, tender biscuit that still achieved a good height. I love the fact that the original recipe calls for a lot of baking powder. I feel it really helped my biscuits become lofty and fluffy, despite cutting a few corners.
This is where the science of baking really comes alive. The amount you handle the biscuits before baking and the addition of baking powder are crucial. Over-handling the biscuits will make them dense (not what you want), so try to spend as little time as possible shaping the chunks of dough into the shape you want before dropping them on the baking sheet. Baking powder, which contains some baking soda, acid, and cornstarch, will start leavening your dough as soon as you add liquid, so be mindful of that and work quickly once you combine the wet and dry ingredients.
Cheddar & Green Onion Drop Biscuits
Loosely based on Food52’s cheese biscuits
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 tsp. salt
7 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
4 green onions, white and pale green parts only, sliced
1 1/2 cup low-fat or fat-free butter milk
1. Combine the flours, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Chill for about 30 minutes. At the same time, allow the butter to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, prepare 2 baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
2. Combine the dry ingredients, butter, cheese, and green onions together in the large bowl. Mix until the butter forms pea-sized crumbs. Add the buttermilk and stir until the dough just comes together.
3. Gently pull chunks from the dough, gently shape them into a round, high disc, and place on the baking sheet. Do not handle the dough too much or the biscuits will be dense. Bake for 2o minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Cool briefly, then consume while warm.
To reheat biscuits, warm for 10 minutes in a 200-degree oven.