This recipe is borrowed wholesale from Erin McDowell, and it is a good one, oh so worthy of the New York Times. You’ll be glad I reproduced it here, but know that all kudos go to her. I’m just a devoted fan and I thank her mightily. I want these on repeat; they are great as a breakfast side for eggs or tea, or with a bowl of soup or chowder.
She says not to skip the sugar, because it is the secret to the biscuit’s “tender interior.” I don’t know about that, I’d say don’t mess with perfection here, and leave it in. We use salted butter, so maybe that’s the ticket to magic along with that tidbit of sugar.
This recipe makes twelve biscuits, but we bake off only what we want to eat fresh out of the oven, and freeze the rest uncooked, for that fresh-out-of-the-oven taste next time.
Cheddar Biscuit Recipe
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1½ teaspoons garlic powder
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon paprika
½ cup cold butter (1 stick), cut into ½-inch cubes, plus 6 tablespoons melted butter
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, shredded (about 2 packed cups)
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
Arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, garlic powder, salt and paprika to combine. Add the ½ cup cubed butter and toss until each piece is coated completely in flour mixture. Use a pastry cutter or your hands to rub the butter into the flour, continuing to work the mixture until the butter is almost fully blended into the dough. There can still be a few larger pieces of butter, but none should be larger than a pea. If the butter feels soft or melty at any point, refrigerate the mixture in the bowl for 15 minutes before continuing.
Stir in 1½ cups of the cheese into the flour mixture. Make a well in the center of the bowl. In a liquid measuring cup or in a small bowl with a spout, whisk the buttermilk and egg until well combined. Pour the mixture into the medium bowl and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the mixture is combined. Near the end, you may have to fold it over itself a few times in the bowl to make sure it’s uniformly combined. (Resist the urge to use your hands so that the mixture doesn’t get too soft or compressed.)
Scoop the dough into 12 even portions (about ½ cup/80 grams each) onto the prepared sheet pan. Stagger the biscuits on the baking sheets. (You should have 6 biscuits per sheet pan.)
Brush each biscuit with the melted butter (you won’t use it all) and divide the remaining shredded cheese among the tops of the biscuits (about 2 teaspoons per biscuit).
Transfer to the oven and bake the biscuits for 15 minutes, then brush each biscuit with butter again, and rotate the pans between the oven racks. Continue to bake until the biscuits are light golden and the cheese on top is deeply golden, 5 to 10 minutes more. The biscuits should spring back gently when touched in the center.
Brush the finished biscuits generously with the remaining butter. Let them cool slightly and we love them best served warm.