Saturday, June 4, 2011

Thyme, Cheddar, and Ham Biscuits

So I have this friend named Johnnie and it was his birthday on Thursday. Johnnie’s one of the kindest people I know. He’s the one who’s willing to help anyone out of a jam. He acts tough, but I know that he’s just a big softie on the inside. Johnnie is an awesome guy, but occasionally, he irritates me as well. But I can’t be mad at the guy on his birthday. 

In my opinion, birthdays are supposed to be days of indulgence. It’s the one day of the year when people should go out of their way to make it special for you. I love making birthdays special for the people I love; seeing their faces light up in joy is worth whatever it takes.

I don’t have such high expectations of my own birthday. It’s not fair to expect that other people share my enthusiasm for birthdays. For example, my parents view birthdays as just another day of the year. When I ask my mom what kind of gift she would like, she either denies wanting a present or tells me she wants a coffee mug—coffee mug, which we already have at least a dozen of, a coffee mug which will eventually end up in shards on the kitchen floor when someone accidentally drops it. Needless to say, I didn’t really understand. In the end, I decided to bake something for my mom. I bake so often that it’s not really a novelty so I usually try to make something special that I usually don’t make.

For Johnnie, I decided to make breakfast biscuits because he doesn’t particularly like sweet treats. I find that plain biscuits are generally too plain, so I add cheddar cheese and ham in mine.

Biscuits aren’t terribly difficult to make, but they do take time, effort, and patience. It takes time and effort for me to drive to the supermarket to buy the ham and cheese. Even though I’m using my food processor to grate the butter and cheese, it takes time to cut the cheese and butter into sticks and to chop the ham into cubes. It takes patience to wait for the sticks of butter to freeze before I can grate them. It takes patience to wait for the grated butter to refreeze (it’s really not a necessary step, but it make the biscuit dough much easier to work with).

It takes a lot of patience and effort to bring the dough together when I’m making a double batch: imagine try to combine eight cups of flour, two cups of grated cheese, three cups of diced ham, one pound of grated butter, and three and a half cups of milk. My mixing bowl was barely large enough to hold all the dry ingredients, so I had to work in batches when I added the milk.

But the biscuits are worth the effort because they taste so good. Johnnie has tried my biscuits before so I know he likes them.

I hope you had an awesome birthday Johnnie. Planning a surprise lunch is harder than you think and it doesn’t help when you sneak in through the back door and scare the stuff out of us. You’re lucky my mom knows you already. ;)

Click below for the recipe.

Breakfast Biscuits

I love these biscuits because they can be made in huge batches (you’re going to need a really large bowl though) and frozen, before and after baking. Generally, the unbaked frozen biscuits are saved for lazy Sunday mornings while the ones that I have already baked and then frozen are for quick afterschool snacks.

Yield: 2 dozen 3-in biscuits

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 ½ cups smoked turkey or ham, diced
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks) butter, frozen
  • 1 ¾ cups milk
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Using a food processor or a box grater, grate the butter into a bowl and put the butter back into the freezer while preparing the dry ingredients. 

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and chopped thyme together until evenly mixed. Stir in the cheddar cheese and turkey or ham. Add the grated butter and toss gently with fingers until the butter is spread evenly throughout the flour. 

Pour about 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons milk into the flour mixture and stir with an upside down wooden spoon to form a ball of dough. Fold the dough over a few times with your hands until all the ingredients come together. If necessary add a few spoonfuls more milk to help gather up any stray flour. 

Pat the dough out on a lightly floured cutting board forming a loose round shape. Roll the dough out to a thickness of ½-inch. Using a 3-inch circular cookie cutter, cut out biscuits and position them on a baking sheet. Chill scraps before rerolling if the dough begins to feel soft.  

At this point, you can freeze the biscuits in a single layer on a cookie sheet until hard and then transfer them to a plastic bag and freeze. When you bake the biscuits from frozen, follow the instructions below, but be sure to add a couple minutes to the baking time. 

In a small bowl, beat the egg and the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk together. Lightly brush the tops of the biscuits with the egg wash and sprinkle some black pepper over top. Bake for 18-23 minutes or until golden.

The baked biscuits can also be frozen and microwaved for a minute on high, or until warm before eating.


  1. Interesting, I've never heard of grating frozen butter - I've never heard of freezing butter for that matter. Where did you learn this trick?

  2. I think I watched someone on Food Network grate frozen butter into their biscuits. It actually makes bringing the dough together so much easier since all the butter is already cut-in.

    The first time, I used a hand grater and did it by hand, but by the time I was finished, the butter was already half-melted because my hands were warm, so I stuck it back in the freezer. I find that that works better because you can break up the whole biscuit making process into shorter steps!

  3. That's so good to know! Thanks for the tip!


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