The Road to Scrumptious Cheddar Dill Beer Biscuits

Cheddar Dill Beer Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

These scrumptious, buttery, cheesy biscuits were the goal, but it took a couple of tries and a bit of heartache to get there. It was humbling, making a bad biscuit. So far, I had managed to elude the problems that so many novice biscuit-makers complain about. I suppose I got a little cocky.

I blame it on “New Kitchen Syndrome.” You know that stage where everything has been unpacked and stowed away, the counters have been cleared, and you should easily, at least in theory, be able to get back to baking again. Except you can’t remember where you put the measuring spoons and the ingredients you need are all in the very back of the cabinet. It is harder to do just about anything you want to do and can make you quite grumpy.

Eventually, I got to this. We are still talking about these Cheddar Dill Beer Biscuits. Buttery, cheesy, and slightly tangy biscuits made with beer instead of buttermilk. They were incredibly delicious and I will tell you how to make them in a moment.

Cheddar Dill Beer Biscuit | Persnickety Biscuit

First, though, we had this. They look pretty good, don’t they? Tall, flaky with a crisp slightly browned exterior. These should be wonderful. I am going to be honest and tell you they were not! They were incredibly dense and heavy and dry. They were edible but only with vast quantities of butter or completely smothered in soup.

Bad Beer Biscuits

So what went wrong? Two things. I forgot the cheese, for one. I was so mad when I realized, then kind of relieved that good cheese had not been wasted on this sub par biscuit. Second, not enough beer. Seriously, I believe the liquid to dry ratio was off, not allowing the beer to connect with the leaveners and help them work their magic. I was so concerned about making the dough too sticky that I made it too dry.

Well, with this little lesson under my belt I set out to make it right. I started again using the same ingredients, just with a little more beer. Despite the fact that I had trouble with the recipe the first time around, it is only a slight variation on my favorite buttermilk yogurt biscuit recipe. Self-rising flour, a little sugar, part shortening and part butter (frozen and then grated). I added grated sharp cheddar cheese and dill, along with a bit of black pepper. Because I did not want to waste a bunch of fresh dill, I got a paste from the produce department. Have you seen this before? It worked really well.

Dill

I mixed it in with the beer before adding it to the dry ingredients. Don’t be afraid to be a little heavy-handed with dill. I have found that it is one herb that can get lost if you don’t use enough. It is also a terrific compliment to the cheddar cheese.

Dill and Beer

The dough was a little sticky but still held together pretty well. I put the cut out biscuits pretty close together.

Cheddar Dill Beer Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

They rose nicely and joined together just enough to keep the sides moist. With a few minutes of baking time to go, I took them out of the oven, brushed them with butter, and sprinkled them with sea salt and a touch of fresh ground pepper. Then I put them back into the oven for a few more minutes.

Cheddar Dill Beer Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

Yes, that is a Yazoo beer – brewed in Nashville! Click on the photo for their site.

They broke apart perfectly and were thoroughly delicious with the slight amount of pepper and perfect melding of cheddar and dill. No additional butter was required and these definitely did not need to be smothered in soup! I felt completely vindicated. Here is the recipe. Don’t let my initial failure scare you off. These really are easy and so worth it when you get it right!

>>> Click here for printable biscuit recipe.

Cheddar Dill Beer Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter, frozen and grated
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 T dill (fresh or paste)
  • 3/4 cup beer
  • Melted butter for brushing tops of biscuits

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the first three dry ingredients.
  3. Add Crisco to dry ingredients and rub with your fingers to break the Crisco up into small, pea sized pieces.
  4. Add grated, frozen butter to dry ingredients and stir to coat butter pieces with flour mixture.
  5. Add grated cheddar cheese to dry ingredients and stir to coat cheese pieces with flour mixture.
  6. If using fresh dill, then add it to the dry ingredients and stir. If using dill paste, mix with the beer in small bowl or measuring cup.
  7. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the beer. Mix quickly with large spoon or hands, turning bowl and gently scooping the dry ingredients into the wet. Add more beer, if needed, to make dough moist but not too wet. It will be somewhat sticky.
  8. Sprinkle flour onto countertop or pastry board. Dump dough out of bowl onto flour. Sprinkle flour onto dough and rub onto hands. Knead a few times. Press dough together and flatten to about 1/2 inch. Fold dough in half. A pastry scraper can be really helpful here to lift up the dough.
  9. Transfer dough to parchment paper. Press out to about 1/2 inch. 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. Alternately, use a biscuit cutter to cut out rounds. Place them close together on the parchment. Press remaining dough together and repeat.
  10. Put cookie sheet in oven and bake for about 12 minutes, until tops of biscuits are slightly browned. Take the biscuits out of the oven and brush the tops of the biscuits with butter, sprinkle with sea salt and fresh pepper, then return them to the oven.
  11. Bake about 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and let rest a few minutes.
  12. Share with someone you love!
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Moving Day Biscuits (er… scones?) – Sweet Sixteenth

Sweet Sixteenth Breakfast Sandwich | Persnickety Biscuit

It is important to plan a little treat for yourself occasionally. Especially in times of great stress. Moving Day qualifies. This would be my last stop on the farewell tour of East Nashville.

Sweet Sixteenth | Persnickety Biscuit

I planned it out far in advance. Sweet Sixteenth has these amazingly delicious breakfast sandwiches. They used to make them only on the weekends, but must have received many requests to offer them the rest of the week, because they are now available on weekdays, too.

They call them scones, but I think they are basically biscuits. I’m really not sure what differentiates the two and will have to explore that in more detail some day. For now, though, I’m just going to call this a biscuit sandwich. It is made with a cheddar cheese scone/biscuit that is heavenly on its own. I should know. I’ve eaten many of them over the years. Slightly sweet, fluffy, with a nice crisp outer layer and rich cheese. For the sandwich, they add a layer of egg casserole with bits of peppers in it – just enough to add flavor but not be hot.

Sweet Sixteenth Breakfast Sandwich | Persnickety Biscuit

When you order one, they literally call out “one to go” or “one for here” to the kitchen. Because that is the only item that comes from the kitchen. Everything else is in the cases out front. This is a tiny place where the counter is always manned by the couple that own it. When they want to go on vacation, they close up shop. Just like that. It is really quite charming. Thank goodness they were not on vacation on my Moving Day!

Sweet Sixteenth | Persnickety Biscuit

The breakfast sandwich was all I hoped it would be, everything I knew it could be. It came out of the kitchen quickly, wrapped carefully in paper and in a brown bag. I took it home for the last meal in my kitchen. I savored the flavors, the warmth, the large cup of coffee I got to go with it. Then I was ready to move to my new home.

Sweet Sixteenth Breakfast Sandwich | Persnickety Biscuit

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.

Rich Cheesy Cheddar Herb Biscuits

Cheesy Cheddar Biscuits
This is when things start getting fun! I had learned some biscuit lessons along the way and was ready to really put them into practice with this new recipe.

Where did this biscuit recipe come from?

This one is mine! I was inspired by a few different recipes – the most influential was this one from Bon Appetit.

Why choose this biscuit recipe?

I had family in town and a friend was having a bad week and, well, I thought I should make them all some biscuits. Nothing says “I love you” like a rich, buttery, cheesy biscuit, right?

Cheesy Cheddar Herb Biscuits

What is Persnickety about this biscuit recipe?

In some ways, I think this recipe is easier than many. You have to remember to freeze the butter – that must be done ahead of time. And grating the butter is a little persnickety. It is hard to hold onto a stick of butter to grate it! But once that is done, putting everything together is really easy. You don’t have to cut the butter in or wonder if you are working fast enough or if your butter is starting to melt too much. It is already the perfect size, so you just toss it with the dry ingredients.

Cheesy Cheddar Dough

I have to admit, I got the butter freezing idea from that first biscuit recipe. The Tupeolo Honey one. Remember that? I decided that was an idea I could definitely salvage from that recipe.

The other thing to note is the way the whole piece of dough was put onto the parchment before it was cut out. How much easier is it to cut the biscuits out in place and then just slide the whole thing into the oven? I also really love making these little biscuits. They are almost bite-sized and I can have a couple of them without feeling like I’m going to gain a million pounds in a weekend.

Cheddar Dough Cut out

So how was the biscuit?

Is it too immodest if I say “wow”? Honestly, they were really good. Moist, cheesy, with just enough herb and garlic flavor to make them perfect all by themselves. No butter was required for these little gems.

Rich Cheesy Cheddar Biscuit

How were the leftover biscuits prepared?

I reheated them in the microwave and also toasted them. Very good, of course. I mean, how could buttery rich cheesy cheddar herb biscuits not be good when toasted?

Toasted Cheesy Cheddar Herb

I also was going to try a new freeze, thaw, rest, bake thing. I put a small piece of cut out dough into the freezer. The idea (from that Bon Appetit recipe) was to thaw them overnight in the fridge, let them rest for 20 minutes at room temp, then bake. But I got impatient and just pulled them out of the freezer and put them into the oven. They still baked up pretty well, just did not rise as much. Oh well. Another time I’ll follow those directions and let you know how they turn out.

Trio of Cheesy Cheddar Biscuits

>>>Click here for printable recipe.

Cheddar Cheesy Herb Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups White Lily self-rise flour
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. dried mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. Mrs Dash original (or any combo of herbs you like)
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, frozen
  • 3/4 – 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 475 degrees. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients.
  3. Grate cheddar if not using pre-shredded.
  4. Grate frozen butter.
  5. Add butter to dry ingredients and toss to coat butter pieces with flour. You do not need to “cut in” the butter at this point.
  6. Add cheese and toss to coat.
  7. 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.
  8. 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. Sprinkle board, hands and top of dough with flour again. Flatten and fold again. Flatten to about 1/2-3/4 inch.
  9. 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.
  10. Put cookie sheet in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until tops of biscuits are slightly browned. If you wish, take the biscuits out of the oven a couple of minutes before they are done and brush the tops of the biscuits with butter.
  11. Remove from oven, let rest a few minutes, then break apart and eat!
  12. Share with someone you love.