Cheddar Black Pepper Drop Biscuits ARE a delicious indulgence and make a perfect side to a soup, stew, or chili or just as an afternoon bite.
The making of Cheddar Black Pepper Drop Biscuits
First of all, full disclosure - these are NOT low-fat. Nor are they low-calorie. Nor are they low in flavor! They are a beautiful tender, flakey, biscuit with hints of black pepper that go beautifully well with soups, stews, chili, breakfast, anytime you would love a good, rich, biscuit served.
And hopefully, that is not every day.
Although these biscuits are really easy enough to make every day.
Brian and I were in Chicago and having dinner at Devon Seafood Grill when they brought us this little plate, with two little, two to three bite, biscuits on it. My first thought was, "my, what a tiny little bread plate offering", and then I ate mine. Oh, my, what a rich little bite of yumminess!
Really, no need for more than one.
Although really hard to not eat more than one.
So I asked for the recipe. And they gladly gave it to me. Of course, it was in industrial kitchen talk.
I really didn't need to make 176 biscuits.
I took the large format and scaled it to a normal house. And a normal kitchen. And normal amounts.
In this case that is about 18 biscuits, if you make a small version of them, a dozen if you make a larger version. As you can see from the above photo, the ones in the background are larger. The original recipe said to use a #20 scoop for each biscuit, and not knowing exactly what that was, I used my ice cream scoop. I thought the biscuits were a bit on the large size, so I changed to a heaping tablespoon, or about 1 ounce (30g) each. I liked this size much better. You could do either, large or small. The cooking time is the only thing that would really be affected, my small-sized biscuit was cooked in about 12 minutes, the larger ones took about 16 minutes overall.
So, in a 375º oven, small cooks for 12 - 15 minutes, and large from 15 to 18 minutes, depending on your oven.
These, of course, are best served HOT..
The tale of two flours
Two types of flour are used in this recipe - all-purpose for texture and structure, cake flour for lightness, and tender bite.
All-purpose flour is, as the name implies all-purpose. Most commercial brands use a combination of both hard and soft wheat to make all-purpose flour. Hard wheat, gives structure and chew, and is always used when making bread flour. Soft flour gives foods a more tender texture, along with crumble. Best used in cookies, cakes, and biscuits. Soft wheat is generally spring wheat, hard wheat is generally grown in the fall. You can get a softer all-purpose flour such as King Arthur, my preferred brand.
But overall the general idea is, all-purpose can be used for almost all types of baking. So if you only have one type of flour in your pantry, make it this, all-purpose.
Cake Flour is intended for baking tender, light, dishes, such as cakes and cookies. It has less protein, which is what makes a bread flour chewy - something you want in your bread, but not in your cake, cookies or biscuits.
If you don't have cake flour in the pantry, it's easy enough to emulate. For every cup of cake flour required in a recipe, put 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in the bottom of the measuring cup, then top with all-purpose flour. Sift a few times to make sure they are well mixed together and then, cake away.
What the Cheddar?
In this recipe, you could use whatever kind of cheddar you desire, mild or sharp. White or yellow. I used medium-sharp yellow cheddar.
What is the difference between white or yellow cheddar?
Annatto. That's it. Food color made from a natural seed used to make natural white milk yellow. Some places in the country actually prefer one over the other, but essentially, there is no real difference.
Now that said, if you buy a natural colored white cheddar, the color of the cheese will actually tell you a little about the cow's diet. A very light cheese is the sign of a cow who has not had a lot of opportunities to graze. The cheese lacks the grasses chlorophyll color because most cows don't get to eat natural grasses. Pastured cows will have richer milk, with yellow tinges to it.
Adding annatto covers bad cow diets with yellow dye. So if you really really want natural cheese, buy only white. I just find it hard in our local grocery store to find white cheddar.
Butter and Buttermilk
I always use unsalted butter. It's the only kind I have in my house. My philosophy is, I can always add salt, but I can't take it out. Might also be because my mother, when making croissants during the holiday season would always be elbow deep in a bowl of ice water as she squeezed the salted butter in the bowl to leach the butter out. In Europe, sweet cream butter was the norm. In America, in the day, it was not. Of course, now you can always find unsalted butter.
So I take it back, you can remove the salt. But I find it much easier, and less chilling, to just buy unsalted butter.
Buttermilk gives the muffin a little "tang". And I love that cultured buttermilk is so rich and creamy, while only having 1 or 2% milkfat. I generally use 2% cultured buttermilk.
I prefer drop biscuits to cut just for the ease of making them. No flour on the counter, no rolling out, no cutter needed. Just dig a spoon into the dough and drop it onto the sheet. Bake and eat.
With these biscuits, no additional butter is needed.
Cheddar Black Pepper Drop Biscuits
Cheddar Black Pepper Drop Biscuits are perfect bites. Perfect on a buffet table, with brunch, soup, chili, and stew.
Or as Brian's office noted - not too bad with a morning cuppa.
Hope you serve some up soon.
Cheddar Black Pepper Drop Biscuits are a great choice for Biscuits and Gravy!
Cheddar Black Pepper Drop Biscuits
- Dry Ingredients
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour* see blog notes
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons cracked black pepper
- ¼ pound shredded cheddar cheese
- and then
- ¼ pound (1 stick) frozen unsalted butter
- 1 1/16 cup chilled buttermilk
- Silpat or pan release such as Pam®
- Heat oven to 375¯F. Measure and sift together the dry ingredients, flours, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt in the container of a mixer bowl or other large bowl. Add the cracked pepper and shredded cheese. Mix to combine. Shred the frozen butter using the coarse side of your grater directly into the dry ingredients.
- Place the bowl onto the stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, start the mixer on medium-low speed.* Add the buttermilk all at once and mix until all the ingredients are combined and a dough is formed. The dough is combined once there is no more dry flour at the bottom of the mixer bowl. Do not over-mix.
- Spray cooking sheets (you will need two) with non-stick spray, or use a Silpat or parchment paper, drop the dough by well-rounded tablespoon (about 1 ounce or 30g per) onto the prepared sheet keeping them about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until nicely browned and golden. Depending on your oven, you may want to rotate the pan. Remove from oven and serve hot.
- The dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one day prior to baking.