I’ve talked to you about comfort foods before. You know what I’m talking about—it’s the food you reach for when a situation seems totally overwhelming and you need something to eat…now. I’ve found that when you bake a comfort food it comes to have a totally different meaning. It slows down the process a little bit and allows you to appreciate what you’re making and eating.
My list of comfort foods could go on forever, literally. My list would start out with butter pecan ice cream, and carrot cake. Other items would include homemade apple pie, chocolate chip cookies, and peach cobbler. However, my true weakness is bread—of any kind.
Along with pastries, bread is one of those things I don’t have a great deal of experience with when it comes to baking. Working with yeast, proofing dough, and kneading without a stand mixer are all things that intimidate me. For Christmas, one of my friends got me a cookbook called The Art of Bread. After perusing the book, I settled on a recipe for biscuits that looked relatively good for a beginner. I made a few tweaks to turn them into a cheesy treat perfect for brunch or dinner.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, at room temperature
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 ounces grated yellow cheddar cheese (about 1 1/4 cups)
3/4 cup whole milk
Garlic Butter Ingredients
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Lightly mist a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
Make the biscuits: Pulse the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add the shortening and pulse until combined. Add the butter; pulse 4 or 5 times, or until the butter is in pea-size pieces. Add the cheese and pulse 2 or 3 times. Pour in the milk and pulse just until the mixture is moistened and forms a shaggy dough. Turn out onto a clean surface and gently knead until the dough comes together. Do not overwork the dough or the biscuits will be tough.
Drop the dough onto the baking sheet in scant 1/4-cup portions, 2 inches apart, and bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the garlic butter: Melt the butter with the garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Brush the biscuits with the garlic butter and serve warm.
Heather’s Helpful Hints
You may have been surprised to see that the ingredients called for vegetable shortening and butter (gasp)! Fat is essential for the lightest and fluffiest biscuits and both butter and shortening play different roles. While butter adds more flavor, shortening makes the biscuits more tender because it doesn’t contain water or milk solids.