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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
>>>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:
- mix flour and baking powder together thoroughly
- 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
- immediately move flour/baking powder/butter mixture to a cold place while preparing ingredients for step 4
- mix cheddar cheese, basil, and apple together
- make a hollow in the center of the flour/butter, then add cheese/apple/basil, and then mix evenly
- 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.
- sprinkle corn meal on an oven tray and arrange biscuits with an inch or so between them on the tray
- bake at 400 degrees for 16-20 minutes, rotating oven tray at the eight-minute mark.