I think you will really enjoy this recipe for flaky cheddar biscuits. With Old Bay seasoning in the dough and loads of shredded cheese rolled and folded in for layered biscuits, these guys are great on their own or for making little sandwiches.
I added these biscuits to my list of Thanksgiving breads too, because they’d be great for Thanksgiving.
What I Want In a Cheddar Biscuit
Yes, there are a billion copy cat recipes out there for cheddar bay biscuits. Yes, I’ve looked at a lot of them. Yes, they all sound pretty-good-to-very-good. But almost none of them actually contain Old Bay seasoning. And to me, the name “cheddar bay” tells me two things:
- There should be cheddar cheese in them (most folks get that part right)
- They should contain Old Bay seasoning (almost nobody does this)
And yes, I’ve heard that Red Lobster doesn’t actually use Old Bay in their recipe. But they should. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
There are two different types of biscuits: drop biscuits and flaky, layered biscuits.
Drop biscuits are tender and fall apart in a good way when you eat them. They rise reasonably high, but their main job is to be tender and to maybe sop up some gravy.
Flaky biscuits have lots of layers and they rise high. They’re tender enough for sopping, but they also have enough structure to let you build a wee sandwich on them and to bite them without getting tender crumbs all over the front of your shirt.
I am more of a flaky biscuit girl, and even though I’m not a seafood person and haven’t been to a Red Lobster in years, I definitely love a good cheddar biscuit, bay or not.
So I decided to make my version of a perfect and flaky cheddar biscuit: high-rising and flaky with plenty of Old Bay seasoning in them. And a ton of cheese.
Testing The Recipe
This recipe is the third permutation of these biscuits, and I finally deem it perfect.
I made the first batch as “regular” biscuits, just mixing the cheese right into the dough and calling it a day. I also used more than my usual 1 teaspoon to 1 cup of flour ratio for leavening because many southern biscuit recipes call for as much as 1 1/2 teaspoons per cup.
Not to put too fine a point on it, these excess-leavening biscuits tasted of despair. I could taste the extra leavening as a soapy-chemical aftertaste that was no good for anyone.
For the second batch, I layered in the cheese rather than adding it with the dry ingredients.
They rose impressively, but they still had too much leavening (though the aftertaste wasn’t as pronounced. They were also decidedly too Old-Bayish without any other balancing flavors.
For Round Three, I:
- cut back the leavening to my usual ratio
- cut back on the Old Bay
- introduced some granulated garlic and onion.
So, without further ado, I present unto you high-rise flaky cheddar bay biscuits. You are more than welcome.
- 9 oz low protein all purpose flour such as White Lily or Southern Biscuit*, (2 cups measured by whisking flour, spooning lightly into a cup and leveling off with a straight edge)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, (plus a bit more for sprinkling on the tops)
- scant 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- scant 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 3 oz cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2" cubes, (3/4 stick or 6 Tablespoons)
- 7 oz cold buttermilk**, (scant 1 cup) plus a bit more for brushing the tops
- 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, , grated and divided in half (I used an aged cheddar from Wisconsin)
- Preheat your oven to 450F for about 30 minutes before baking. Place your oven rack on the second-to-the-bottom level and if you have a pizza stone, put it on that rack.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, Old Bay, garlic powder and onion powder.
- Toss in the cold butter and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the largest pieces are the size of peas.
- Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk.
- Using a knife or a couple of fingers, stir the mixture until most of the flour is wet and you have a very shaggy dough. There will still be some loose flour in the bowl. Worry not.
- Liberally flour your work surface and dump out all the dough, piling the dry ingredients still left in the bowl on top of your shaggy dough.
- Lightly pat out the dough into a square or rectangle until it's about 1/2" thick. It should be about 11"x8" or so. No need to be too precise. It still won't look like much. Worry not.
- Take half the shredded cheese and spread it evenly on half of your rectangle of dough. It will seem like a very lot.
- Using your bench knife or a large spatula, fold the "naked" half of your dough over the cheese. You may have to piece it together, but carry on.
- Press and pat out the dough to the original size, turning it 1/4 turn.
- Add the second half of the grated cheese to half of your rectangle and fold over the dough again.
- Press the dough out to the original dimensions, trying to keep it as square as possible. Turn it 1/4 turn.
- Now that all the cheese is in there, you need to keep adding layers, so fold the dough again, pat it out to the original dimensions, turn 1/4 turn. Keep repeating this for a total of 6 turns, including the 2 where you added the cheese.
- Trim the edges of the dough with your bench knife or with a pizza cutter so you have an even rectangle.
- Square biscuits mean less waste, so cut the rectangle into however many biscuits you want. I made smallish ones and ended up with 16 biscuits, each about 2" x 1 1/2". Cut yours as large or as small as you want. You can cut circles, but biscuits cut out of the re-rolls will be much tougher.
- Place your biscuits on a parchment-or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with buttermilk and sprinkle lightly with a bit of Old Bay.
- Put your tray of biscuits onto the baking stone and bake for about 12 minutes (start checking at 10) until well risen and golden brown. If your oven bakes unevenly, rotate your pan after the first 7 minutes or so to promote even browning.
- Let cool just enough that you won't burn your mouth and enjoy.
*If you're a biscuit fan, it's worth grabbing some White Lily or Southern Biscuit. If you only make biscuits occasionally, you can use cake flour or a national brand all purpose. I don't recommend King Arthur all purpose for these because KA's AP flour has a bit higher protein content than other all purpose flours.
**If you don't have buttermilk, add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to your measure (or bowl if you're using a scale) and then add whole milk until you reach 7 oz or not-quite-to-the-top-of-the-1-cup-line in a liquid measure. Stir and let sit for five minutes before using.
Thank you for spending some time with me today. Enjoy the biscuits, and have a lovely day.