Apple, Basil, Cheddar Biscuit (Paige’s Family Dinner Biscuit)

Apple, Basil, Cheddar Biscuit (Paige's Family Dinner Biscuit)

Luscious.

That’s what my friend said after I gave her half a dozen of these biscuits as part of her birthday present. There were other adjectives as well, but “luscious” was the subject line of the email she sent me, so that is the one I remember the best. She did not share them with her husband or son, but savored them privately over the course of the week.

Where did this biscuit recipe come from?

If you have not read my previous post, you might want to. The creator of this recipe, Matt Sandbank, was kind enough to give me permission to write about and share his award-winning (International Biscuit Festival) recipe in this blog. When I opened his email, I was really excited about the combination of ingredients, especially the fresh basil, since I have masses of it in my garden. Score!

Basil

These herb scissors are my favorite new kitchen tool.

After my excitement about the chance meeting with this biscuit aficionado and his recipe, I just hoped the biscuits would be good and that I would not botch the making of them!

What is persnickety about this biscuit recipe?

Strangely enough, it was the apple. I ended up making these twice. The first time, M. was assisting. I asked him to chop the apple into small pieces. That he did. Very small pieces. Seemed like a great idea, but the apple sort of got lost in the final product.

Apple, Basil, Cheddar

See how tiny those apple bits are?

The second time I made them, I was careful to create nice sized chunks of apple. That time, you absolutely knew when you were biting into an apple chunk.

The other thing I found really interesting is while the recipe uses self-rising flour, it also has added baking powder. This is the first time I’ve run across a recipe that adds more baking powder. I wonder if that made them more fluffy than they would be otherwise?

Apple, Basil, Cheddar

Larger pieces of apple this time.

What changes were made in the making of this biscuit recipe?

As few as possible. I wanted to represent this recipe well and get as close as I could to how Matt would have made them. I was out of corn meal so did not dust the baking sheet with it for either attempt. That is the only alteration I made to ingredients.

Apple, Basil, Cheddar

Look at all those goodies mixed with the flour.

I used good quality sharp cheddar that I grated myself. Matt specified a Granny Smith apple. I have always loved their tart crispness, so was happy to comply.

The first time I made these I even cut them into rounds and spread them out on the baking sheet, as directed. The second time, though, I reverted to rectangles baked very close together. It has become such a habit to make biscuits this way that I did not even think about it until they were done.

Apple, Basil, Cheddar Biscuit Dough (Paige's Family Dinner Biscuit)

So how were the biscuits?

I am so happy to report that I can understand how they won an award. This recipe is now high on my list of favorites. They were so moist and the basil lent a stunning burst of fresh flavor that worked perfectly with the cheese and the mild sweetness of the apple.

Apple, Basil, Cheddar Biscuit (Paige's Family Dinner Biscuit)

As I said, the apple got kind of lost in the first batch, but I do think it is what made the biscuit so moist, even the next day. I may use that to my advantage in future biscuit recipes.

I took the second batch to a Labor Day cookout and there was a lot of excitement around the biscuits. First, they are just so pretty with the ribbons of basil and melted cheese and slightly toasted tops. And then you taste them. Divine.

Apple, Basil, Cheddar Biscuit (Paige’s Family Dinner Biscuit)

I served them with honey butter and also a peppery, spicy honey butter that could have been a bit spicier. Both worked well with the savory-sweet biscuits.

As the evening wore on, there was this one biscuit that kept getting cut in half and one half eaten, then cut in half again and so on. You know, how no one wants to be responsible for taking the last bit? Finally, I grabbed the last bite and finished them off myself.

Apple, Basil, CheddarBiscuit (Paige's Family Dinner Biscuit)

How were the leftovers prepared?

I’m going to have to start making larger batches or not sharing them so liberally if I want leftover biscuits to play with. There was just one biscuit left the next day from the first batch. I nibbled on it over the course of a couple of days. It was really good – even at room temperature.

Nothing was left from the second batch. I had piled all the dough into one pan, cut it in place, then took the whole pan to the party, so that I could easily heat them up there.

The final word? Make these biscuits. Now. Tonight. This weekend. Then share them with someone you love.

Apple, Basil, Cheddar Biscuit (Paige's Family Dinner Biscuit)

>>>Click here for printable biscuit recipe.

Paige’s Family Dinner Biscuits (from Matt Sandbank)

Ingredients (in order of use):

2 cups White Lilly self-rising flour

1 and 1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder

6 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 cup cheddar cheese

1/2 cup fresh basil, cut finely

1 large Granny Smith Apple, peeled and cut into small cubes

1 cup buttermilk, divided into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup measurements

a pinch or two of corn meal

Method of preparation:

  1. mix flour and baking powder together thoroughly
  2. sprinkle cubes of butter across the top of the flour/baking powder mixture, then use a “pinching” gesture to break down all of the butter cubes into pea-sized or smaller chunks
  3. immediately move flour/baking powder/butter mixture to a cold place while preparing ingredients for step 4
  4. mix cheddar cheese, basil, and apple together
  5. make a hollow in the center of the flour/butter, then add cheese/apple/basil, and then mix evenly
  6. reform a hollow and add 3/4 cup buttermilk, using the 1/4 cup in reserve if needed flour hands and move dough onto a floured cutting board. Flour the top of the dough and fold twice in half before pressing out into a sheet. Dip biscuit cutter into flour and cut out biscuits, taking time to relish the sensation of the cutter slicing through chunks of apple as you do so.
  7. sprinkle corn meal on an oven tray and arrange biscuits with an inch or so between them on the tray
  8. bake at 400 degrees for 16-20 minutes, rotating oven tray at the eight-minute mark.
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Pleasing Pesto Parmesan Biscuits

Pesto Parmesan Biscuit

I used to be a much pickier eater than I am now, especially when it came to vegetables. I remember the first time someone offered me pesto pasta. I thought it would be like eating a vegetable. Spinach or something. Was I wrong about that! One bite and I was hooked. I love pesto on pasta and chicken and pizza. So why not biscuits?

Where did this biscuit recipe come from?

This one is mine! I took the base from the Rich Cheesy Cheddar Herb Biscuits and tweaked it to allow the basil pesto flavor come through.

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Why choose this biscuit recipe?

Besides the fact that pesto just rocks, I had some leftover in my refrigerator and thought it would be fun to add it to biscuits.

What is Persnickety about this biscuit recipe?

You may have noticed that I’ve made a few biscuits that are this small rectangular shape. I’m sure I will vary it soon enough, but I just love how easy it is to cut up all of the dough at once, while it is on the parchment, and slide the whole thing into the oven. The opposite of persnickety, really.

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I do like to freeze the shortening. One thing about shortening compared to butter is that it is still workable when frozen. Just colder. You can’t grate it like butter, but you can easily work it into the dough. I tried to work really quickly and not worry about making the little shortening/butter bits too small. They were more flat than round, which I think helped to make the biscuits a little more flaky.

Pesto Parmesan Biscuit Dough

So how was the biscuit?

Incredibly flavorful. The basil and parmesan were perfectly incorporated into the flaky biscuit that was soft and moist inside.

How were the leftover biscuits prepared?

Leftovers? What leftovers?

Pesto Parmesan Biscuits

>>>Click here for printable recipe.

Pleasing Pesto Parmesan Biscuits

Ingredients:
2 cups White Lily self-rise flour
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup butter flavored Crisco shortening, frozen
¼ cup basil pesto
¾ – 1 cup buttermilk
Shredded parmesan to sprinkle on top

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 475 degrees. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix dry ingredients.
  3. Cut shortening into small pieces and add to dry ingredients. Rub between your fingers or cut in using pastry cutter or two knives. Work quickly so that shortening does not get warm.
  4. Add pesto, again using your fingers to incorporate but don’t worry about blending perfectly.
  5. Make a well in the center and add 3/4 cup buttermilk. Mix quickly with large spoon or hands. Add more buttermilk, if needed, to make dough moist but not too wet. It will be somewhat sticky.
  6. Sprinkle flour onto countertop or pastry board. Dump dough out of bowl onto flour. Sprinkle flour onto dough and rub onto hands. Press dough together quickly and flatten to about 1/2 inch. Fold dough in half. A pastry scraper can be really helpful here to lift up the dough. Flatten dough again to about 1/2-3/4 inch.
  7. Transfer dough to parchment paper. Press out again if needed. Make into a rough rectangular shape. Using a pastry scraper, knife, spatula or other edge, cut dough into squares about 1 1/2 inches across. You do not need to move the dough after cutting. Sprinkle tops of biscuits with shredded parmesan and a little more pepper if you like.
  8. Put cookie sheet in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until tops of biscuits are slightly browned.
  9. Remove from oven, let rest a few minutes, then break apart and eat!
  10. Share with someone you love.