Inviting some pals over to hang out can quickly turn stressful when you realize they’re going to expect some food. Before you reach for your phone to order delivery, take a few deep breaths. Homemade eats don’t have to be difficult. With original recipes from our Everyday Appetizers series, you can pull off showstopping starters without losing your cool.
Other than a brief disruption or two from carbophobes, a bread revival started taking shape a number of decades ago in California, and it quickly spread across the country. First it was just the bakeries, then the fine-dining restaurants, then even casual bars jumped on board. Now that southern food is booming, it’s starting to happen with biscuits. These quick breads face an unfortunate disadvantage, though. Whereas a crusty loaf will taste pretty great for a few days, biscuits are only spectacular when they’re fresh. Instead of settling for a disappointing version from your local watering hole, try your hand at the classic quick bread. They’re simple to make and even easier to dress up with a little bit of cheddar cheese and bacon. They don’t need the added swipe of honey butter, but it’s a pretty tasty move.
About this recipe
Southern cooks can be sort of particular when it comes to biscuits, and some insist it’s not possible to make a decent one if you’re north of the Mason-Dixon line. Truthfully, the quick breads vary quite a bit depending on the region. Some are pillowy while others are a bit more crumbly. They can be rolled and shaped or simply scooped. Ingredients vary too. Recipes call for all sorts of different liquids, including buttermilk, cream, and even flat beer. For the sake of simplicity, we opted for a drop biscuit. This version won’t have the same layered effect you get with a more time-intensive folding technique, but they’re every bit as light and tender.
The recipe starts off with a standard method, involving cutting the butter into the dry ingredients. The key is making sure the butter is really cold before you start. It’s best to cube the butter first, then measure out all the dry ingredients while you let it hang out in the freezer. You can use a pastry blender to work the butter into the flour, but a couple of forks work just as well. As soon as you don’t have any pieces larger than a penny, it’s time to stop. It will look uneven and kind of ugly, and that’s exactly what you want.
While a basic biscuit is always a treat, we wanted to add a little more flavor to help these baked goods stand up to a variety of drinks. Bacon and cheddar make great partners in all sorts of culinary applications, so folding them into some biscuits was an easy choice. If you’d like to experiment a bit, you can substitute different types of cured meats and cheese. Salami and Spanish chorizo are good choices, and any semi-firm cheese will work. Just avoid anything too wet. Sprinkle your choice meat and grated cheese into the flour mixture, then toss just to combine. From here, add your buttermilk and mix it in with a fork. Once again, you want to stop before you have anything too cohesive. The dough should just hold together. Do the final bit of mixing gently with your hands to avoid working the dough too much.
Next, just scoop, and bake. While the biscuits are in the oven, you can whip up a three-ingredient honey butter. It’s a completely optional condiment but adds a little bit of sweetness that goes great with the salty bacon and melty cheese. You can also make the same recipe with maple syrup for more of a breakfast feel. As soon as the biscuits are cool enough to handle, smear on the butter, and dig in.
Bacon-Cheddar Biscuits with Honey Butter
Your two tricks to remember are cold butter and working the dough as little as possible. As long as you follow those rules, you’ll end up with about 12 fantastic biscuits.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 6 slices cooked, crumbled bacon
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut butter into small cubes, and transfer to freezer while you measure the dry ingredients.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Remove cold butter from freezer, and add to bowl. Using two forks and working quickly, cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces of butter just smaller than the size of a penny. Add bacon and cheese, and toss just to combine. Pour in buttermilk, and stir with a fork just to incorporate. Gently do the last bit of mixing using your hands.
Scoop dough into slightly less than ¼-cup portions, and place on a cookie sheet. Bake until golden, about 12 to 15 minutes.
While biscuits bake, use a mixer, food processor, or a bowl and spoon to combine softened butter, honey, and salt. Serve butter with warm biscuits.