Buttermilk Gruyère Biscuits with Ajwain
Let’s face it. Those biscuits in the refrigerated section of the grocery are easy (and tasty!), and we’ve all used them in a pinch to deliver some buttery goodness to the breakfast or dinner table. BUT. It’s just not the same as the homemade kind (see: nothing artificial), and this recipe, with or without the fancy cheese and spices, is so easy and quick, you may swear off the metal tube-sort for good…
I have always loved cheddar-thyme biscuits, and those were precisely the inspiration for this spice-flecked version. I wrote about ajwain some months ago and used it in a gorgeous pissaladière with mushrooms and onions, and what I think is fantastic about this spice is its resemblance to thyme, albeit with a slightly more pungent, menthol quality to it. It’s used a lot in South Asian cooking and is often added to flatbread or samosa dough.
The base of this recipe is self-rising flour. I used it because it has a slightly lower protein content than all-purpose, which translates into super tender, flaky biscuits. White Lily brand is supposedly the go-to flour for Southern biscuits because it has a significantly lower protein content than some of the other national brands out there, but if you can’t find it, any self-rising flour works well here. You whir the flour with cold butter, pour in some buttermilk and voilá! Biscuit dough in about 2 minutes flat. I add in some grated gruyere or cheddar, typically, along with a bit of ajwain for that signature flavor. Enjoy!
Yields 1 dozen biscuits
2 cups self-rising flour
¼ tsp black pepper
½ stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes + 1 tbsp for brushing
1 cup grated gruyère or cheddar cheese
½ tsp ajwain seeds
¾ cups cold buttermilk
kosher or maldon salt
The key to making tender, flaky biscuits is to not over-develop the glutens in the dough. One way to do this is to keep all of the ingredients cold, and another is to not work the dough too much.
Preheat the oven to 425° F.
In a food processor or stand mixer, sift the flour and the black pepper together. Add the cold, cubed butter and pulse or mix just until a sandy texture forms, and there are no visible clumps of butter. Add the cheese and ajwain seeds and pulse to combine. Pour the buttermilk in all at once and pulse until the dough sticks together.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Gently knead the dough a few times so that it comes together and form into a flat, 1-inch thick disc. Use a 2-inch cutter to cut out a dozen biscuits.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Place the biscuits so they are touching on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Paint the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter and sprinkle with a little salt.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm…