Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Search for the Perfect Biscuit: Cheddar Green Onion Buttermilk

Living in the South means constantly being in search of the holy grail of biscuits. While I was hoping to run an experiment similar to the Oreo frosting permutations, I was seemingly at a loss for what aspect to vary in a biscuit. Everyone knows buttermilk biscuits are the best, so it would be fruitless to test with and without it. In the end, I decided on a much more subtle yet important factor in the make-up of a biscuit- the flour.

Would normal, run-of-the-mill all-purpose flour prove to be the most versatile and best or would the lighter White Lilly flour prove advantageous? Or would any of it matter so long as I ended up with a belly full of biscuits?

Cheddar Green Onion Buttermilk Biscuits
Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook
Servings: 10-12 biscuits
Time: 45 minutes
The only prep pic I took. Note the light White Lily!

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp granulated sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold buttermilk, plus more for topping
1 egg
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, chopped into small cubes
3 tbsp green onion, diced
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
Coarse sea salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. 
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together.
  4. In yet another bowl, toss the cheese and green onions together. 
  5. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
  6. Stir in the cheese mixture.
  7. Create a well in the center of the flour and pour in the buttermilk mix.
  8. Toss the flour mixture together until the dough comes together. 
  9. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 8-10 minutes then form a 1 1/2 inch thick circle. 
  10. Cut the dough into circles then put place them onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. 
  11. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  12. Forget to take any pictures of the actual dough. 
The White Lily Biscuits. Note: all the extra burnt cheddar around the edges was already in my belly.
The difference between the two was readily apparent from the dough itself. The White Lilly produced a far more moist dough that had to have extra flour added just to be manageable, while the all-purpose flour was almost too dry. Since this wasn't a strictly controlled experiment and I was looking for a workable dough, the end results were pretty similar.
The all-purpose flour biscuits that were more porous thanks to having to add more buttermilk.
Both biscuits had great cheddar flavor (especially the burnt bits that I removed to at least make my pictures semi pretty) balanced nicely by the green onion (fyi: the original recipe calls for chives). The biscuits were light and bouncy and held surprisingly well as the week went along, but they did not approach the greatest biscuit ever. These were ideally suited for dipping into soup or gravy, but, on their own, they were a little lacking likely from their height deficiency (a problem I am all too familiar with). While this mini-experiment may not have produced any real results, it did at least set me on the path for my next biscuit challenge- varying baking soda/baking powder to achieve the best results for either standard biscuits or breakfast sandwiches. 


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