Cheddar Biscuits

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Crusty and cheesy with both cheddar and Parmesan, these biscuits are great in a bread basket with dinner—or just eaten one by one hot from the oven. Buttermilk and crème fraîche give the biscuits a tangy flavor, while a pinch of cayenne and a generous dose of black pepper give them spice. Grating cold butter into the flour is the secret to these biscuits’ light and tender crumb. If you’ve never tried it, it’s a quick technique, and a lot easier than breaking up butter with a pastry fork.

Butter for the baking sheets

Ingredients

Dry Mix

  • 1 cup Kamut flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne

Wet Mix

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 2 cups grated sharp white cheddar, about pound
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup crème fraîche

Finish

  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Rub two baking sheets with butter. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter.
  2. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the frozen butter over the dry ingredients. Add the cheddar and the Parmesan and stir until evenly combined.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and crème fraîche. Add the mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients, butter and cheeses. Use a spoon or your hands to stir the dough together. As it combines, the dough will have clumps of wet dough next to many smaller, crumblier pieces.
  4. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface and knead it until it roughly comes together, making sure not to overwork the dough, about three kneads. Flour the surface again and use your hands to pat the dough until it’s 1 inch thick.
  5. Using a 2½-inch round cutter, press straight down through the dough. Twist the cutter and lift it up, moving the biscuit to the buttered baking sheet, leaving a 2-inch space between the biscuits. Continue to cut out circles, gathering the scraps and pressing them together to make more biscuits.
  6. Brush the top of each biscuit with buttermilk and sprinkle with a few grinds of black pepper. Bake the biscuits for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the biscuits are golden brown. The biscuits are best eaten warm from the oven but will keep in an airtight container for 2 days.