I never liked biscuits growing up. They were this white, bland, dry, gummy and sad looking thing that came with breakfast meals. A few years ago, I drove across the country and tried some better biscuits at a cafe called Happy Gillis in Kansas City and Lucile’s Creole Café in Denver, and enjoyed them for the first time. But, I still saw them mostly as a delivery vessel for gravy and homemade jam.
It wasn’t until I visited Acme Bread in Berkley did I really enjoy a biscuit. I went there for bread and pizza actually, but after waiting in a line that wrapped around the block, I felt obligated to get my times worth and try everything (or close to it). I was also drawn in by the hand written advertisements for their fresh hot biscuits posted on their shop windows so it was a happy accident that I even end up getting it.
These biscuits are mildly inspired by the one I got at Acme. I was more enchanted by the tall layered biscuits I’ve been seeing on Instagram and Pinterest. My aim was to get that aesthetic and to make something yummy with sourdough discard. The first three or so times I made biscuits the flavors were good, but I didn’t get the height that I wanted (see my sourdough discard cheddar biscuits below). I nailed it on the fourth attempt after a gap of a few months from my last bake. My first few bakes were days, at most a week, in between. And I was getting a little frustrated. It just shows you its sometimes nice to step away from something and come back with a new perspective and calmness.
Tips for a successful bake
- Make sure your ingredients are COLD. Use frozen butter, cold discard, and cold milk. You can even chill your flour being using if you like. If the butter starts melting, stick it back in the fridge.
- Grate/Shave your butter into your flour. I use a cheese grater on the coarsest side but you can use a vegetable peeler– it will just take a little longer. In the past I have cubed my butter and cut them into my flour, and then used my hands to create little flour strands, but I found that shaved butter works better and doesn’t require you to create these flour strands. You just need to press the butter into the flour. It also reduce the time you are handling the butter, which keeps the butter from melting.
- Avoid over working the dough. Kneading a few times to get the dough to come together is fine. The dough is suppose to be a bit dry, with some dry floury pieces, but it should not be so dry that it is falling apart.
- Do “laminate” your dough. After the dough comes together, roughly flatten it, fold it in half or cut and stack the pieces. Flatten it again, and stack the dough again. This will create your layers.
Sourdough Discard Cheddar Biscuits
- 60 g all-purpose flour
- 50 g sourdough discard chilled
- 25 g butter frozen
- 25 g buttermilk or sour cream or greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese grated
- 1/2 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic salt
- Preheat oven to 425F
- Mix together flour, salt, baking powder and seasonings. Using a medium cheese grater, gate in cheddar cheese and toss in the flour and then using a coarse cheese grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour and toss in flour. Pop the bowl in the fridge for about 15 minutes to allow the butter to solidify again.
- Combine chilled sourdough discard and buttermilk. Removed flour mixture from Step 2 from the fridge and add the sourdough mixture to it. Mix and then use your hands to press everything into a shaggy dough. If the mixture is too dry, add a few drops of cold water. Avoid over working the dough.
- Flatten dough into a rectangle and cut it in half. Stack the dough on top of each other. Flatten again and repeat. This will create your layers. Flatten one last time, making the dough about 1 1/2 inch thick. Cut in half to make 2 even pieces and place them on a linned baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are pale brown or, if your prefer, when they are golden.