My sister, Eliot, arrived at my apartment Wednesday morning, fresh off a flight from India. She was super jet-lagged (hey there, 11.5 hour time difference!), but stayed mostly-awake while I baked these Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits. Once I was done photographing them, I gave her one to try, and all she could say was “mmmm.” It could have been because all she’d eaten for the previous two weeks was Indian food or that all biscuits are wonderful or that she was half-asleep at the time…
…but probably not, because I was doing the exact same thing. These cheese biscuits, y’all. They’re my favorite soup side.
They first came to be a couple of Oscar Nights ago when I made them to go with a batch of Sausage, Kale & White Bean Soup. Those biscuits (and Leo’s win!) were thebest things to happen that night, and I’ve been toying with their formula ever since. The resulting biscuits are flaky and buttery with a warm, salty, spicy, slightly-funky flavor that is everything you could want on a cold winter’s night.
Oh, and they’re super easy to make. I mean, if you turn on the oven now, you can have a batch of warm biscuits in about 40 minutes. Just combine some flour, cornstarch, a touch of sugar, baking powder, salt, and black pepper in a bowl…
…and add some freshly grated parmesan. If you don’t want to shell out for Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano is less expensive and works just as well.
Cut in some cold butter and fold in buttermilk until a dough forms. Pat it out and fold it a few times to build some layers.
Use a round biscuit cutter or a sharp chef’s knife to cut biscuits. Place them close together on a parchment-lined pan and brush a little more buttermilk on the tops.
Then bake ‘em until they’re golden on top, light and tender in the centers, and singing you their cheesy siren song.
Trust me, you won’t be able to resist.
Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits
makes 12-14 biscuits
1/2 cup unsalted butter, very cold
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly-cracked black pepper
1 cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese
3/4-1 cup buttermilk, very cold
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
Cut your stick of butter into two 4 tablespoon pieces. Cut one piece into four batons, and cut the other into very thin pats. Refrigerate until needed.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, salt, and black pepper. Whisk in grated parmesan. Add chilled butter. Using your fingertips (not your palms!) or a pastry blender, cut cold butter into flour mixture until it is roughly the size of peas.
Pour in 3/4 cup cold buttermilk. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. If it seems dry, add more buttermilk by the tablespoon.
Turn dough (and any unincorporated flour bits) out onto a floured surface. Flour your fingertips and pat the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Fold dough in half, and turn one quarter turn. Pat out until it is 1/2-inch thick again. Repeat folding/quarter-turning/patting out until you have done it four times total. Re-flour your surface as necessary. For more tips on folding, see here.
Cut dough with a biscuit cutter or sharp knife (not serrated). Cut directly down—do not twist. Place biscuits close together in your prepared pan. Pat biscuit dough scraps into a cohesive piece, and cut until you have used all your dough.
Brush biscuits with extra buttermilk.
Bake biscuits for 14-15 minutes, until they have risen and are starting to brown. Let cool 5-10 minutes. Serve.
Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits are best the day they are made, but can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days.