Cheddar and Black Pepper Biscuits

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Many times within the past few years, I’ve trudged through an 80-hour workweek or two.  The suits (combined with 2nd or even 3rd day hair and bloodshot eyes, natch), the endless caffeine needs, never seeing sunlight or anyone you love (no disrespect to my awesome colleagues)…  It happens.

Needless to say, one’s kitchen becomes a perfectly untouched museum of A More Normal Time. 

“Oh…  I used to do stuff in here.  Hm.  Anyway, COFFEE.”

And it goes without saying that when some kind soul puts something in the breakroom made by human hands, your head just about explodes with gratitude.  At least mine does, but it might be delirium.

See, lately I’ve been lucky in the work-schedule department.  Boyfriend and Co., not so much.  I made them biscuits!

So I have a suggestion for this week (or any other week): remember the kind things others have done for you.  Try to do them for someone else–it feels great.  And then, like me, you can go back to being a jerk again (kidding, kind of).  Also, save a couple of these babies for yourself.  We’re not martyrs here.

These biscuits hopped into my brain when I first saw them on the always-amazing Joy the Baker.  Since my brain was super welcoming and hospitable (duh), they never left.  I just love it when black pepper is given the respect it deserves–not just as an everyday seasoning, but as an ingredient.

In fact, they have enjoyed sharing brainspace with Tom Colicchio’s black pepper ice cream, which I will definitely make someday.

It’s been a loooong time since I’ve made biscuits, and I’d forgotten how easy it is.  And yet, biscuits have all the starchy, warm, bready comfort of yeasted goodies.  Lovely, no?

I actually saw this after the fact, but next time, I’m definitely following these awesome tips for mile-high biscuits from the Pastry Affair.  Have a look!  Science makes baking better–it’s the truth.

My pretty, pretty babies.  I’m gonna brush you with cream and put more pepper on you.

And then eat you.

Cheddar and Black Pepper Biscuits
(recipe from Joy the Baker)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
2 tablespoons sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening, cold and cubed
1/4 cup butter, cold and cubed
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk, cold
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heavy cream (for brushing on top) and more freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt in a large bowl.  Using a bench knife or your hands (OR you could just dump it all into a food processor and pulse), work shortening and butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal and the fats are more or less thoroughly incorporated.  Mix in the cheddar and black pepper, followed by the beaten egg and buttermilk.  Stir until wet ingredients are incorporated.

On a floured surface, knead the dough until it all sticks together (try to keep kneading to a minimum).  Flatten it to an approximately 3/4-inch thickness and, using a round cookie cutter, cut into rounds.  Form scraps into another equally thick slab, and cut more biscuits (I did this twice and ended up with 10 biscuits).  Place biscuits onto ungreased baking sheets at least an inch or so apart.  Use a pastry brush to brush tops with a bit of heavy cream and sprinkle fresh ground black pepper on top.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.

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    • says

      Ooh, that’s a great idea. Something tomato-based would be fantastic–kind of like a take on the ol’ grilled cheese and tomato soup classic. Or apple and fennel soup, since apple and cheddar is one of my favorite flavor combinations!