Spicy Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a.k.a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!

At first I was a little annoyed at this months Daring Bakers Challenge. Biscuits? Please. I’ve made those so many times I can do that in my sleep. (insert pretentious snort here)

But my biscuits have never been this light and airy, which certainly have their place. However, when making sweet scones (my favorite being cranberry orange), this recipe wouldn’t work for me. I need my scones to have a little more muscle so they survive the multiple dips in coffee. These are not meant for coffee. They are meant just as a delicious snack, or as a side to dinner. They shine all by themselves.

The moral of the story is…I learned something new. That’s what I get for being snooty.

The great thing about biscuits (or scones, whatever you want to call them) is they are easy and quick to make.

Some pointers:

  • Always, always use very cold butter. Cube your butter and then put it back in the refrigerator. The key to flaky biscuits is cold butter. As the butter melts in the oven it releases steam, which creates your height and layers.
  • Always, always use cold liquid ingredients.
  • You can use your mixer, a pastry blender, or your hands. Whatever works for you. I used my mixer.
  • Sift your dry ingredients. This recipe suggests triple sifting, which I have no patience for. I sifted once and still had delightfully airy biscuits.
  • You can season this however you like. I will provide the base recipe provided to us, and then I will give you the adaptions I used. If you make sweet biscuits, add some sugar to your dry mix.
  • I did two versions. First, I just rolled out to a rectangle then cut into squares (or maybe still rectangle?). The second version I just patted the dough into a cast iron skillet (that had been buttered. Right, we needed more butter) and I liked this version better. Something about cast iron skillets! I cut the dough before baking it to make for easy grabbing after it was done.
  • If you use a cookie cutter to create round biscuits, do not twist the cutter. You will destroy your layers and have flat or lopsided cookies. Just press straight down.

And one more reminder…use cold butter! This picture was taken three years ago and was my first attempt at making biscuits (using a different recipe, but equally delicious. I’ll try and post that one soon). I left my butter out too long. The biscuit on the right had room temperature butter. The one on the left is cold butter.

Seems like just yesterday I was scratching my head as to why my biscuits were flat!

Yield: About 8 biscuits

Time: 30 minutes from start to finish

Difficulty: Very easy

One Year Ago: Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies

Basic Biscuits


  • 1 cup  (140 gm/5 oz)  all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 TB frozen grated butter (I just used diced cold butter)
  •  ½ cup (120 ml) cold milk
  • Optional 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones

1. Preheat oven to 475F. Sift your dry ingredients into your mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix on low until butter mixture resembles very coarse corn meal (slightly smaller than pea size). Watch carefully. Any smaller than that and you will start to lose your layers.

2. Add your milk and mix until just combined.

3. Very lightly dust a clean surface and knead a few times to create layers. This particular recipe is very wet so it will be difficult to knead. Just try a couple kneads and don’t get frustrated if it is sticky.

4. Roll out or pat to 1/2″ thickness. If you are baking in a cast iron skillet (highly recommend!) do not roll, just pat the dough into the pan and pre-cut before baking. Brush lightly with milk.

5. Bake for about 8 minutes if cut into individual pieces; if in a skillet it will take longer. Bake until edges are golden. Let cool slightly and then melt butter on top. Eat.

Spicy Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits


  • 1 cup  (140 gm/5 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  •  1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • 4 TB frozen grated butter (I just used diced cold butter)
  •  ½ cup (120 ml) buttermilk

Follow the same instructions as above, sifting the baking soda, mustard, and cayenne in with the rest of the dry ingredients. Knead the cheese in last and sprinkle a little on top. Enjoy!


Filed under Scones

13 responses to “Spicy Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

  1. Those are fantastic. I have not actually made skillet biscuits but use my cast iron daily. Looks like a good on to try.

  2. I love the skillet biscuits too cute, it is great to hear you enjoyed the challenge so much at the end, Yes I thought “biscuits” for the challenge would be too easy but when I did a few batches I realised there is a lot of technique in the process which I thought could be emphasized in the notes of the challenge hoping that people would come up with their best batch to date which on reading a great number of blogs seems to be the case for a lot of the bakers. Great result I love the photos also. Wonderful that it worked out so well. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia .

  3. I would have thought that the biscuits in the skillet might not rise as much as the cut ones but clearly that is not the case. Looks delicious! What would you serve this with? Maybe some sort of delicious soup?

  4. Oh my gosh, I love your side-by-side showing the difference that cold butter makes. And I love the skillet biscuits, too! I really learned a lot this challenge, too. Great job!

  5. Heh, I had the same initial thought at the start of this challenge! Your scones are lovely, and what a great idea to bake them in a skillet! I also really enjoy the illustration of cold vs warm butter – very telling!

  6. Jo

    Ooo, I’d never thought about baking biscuits in my cast iron pan before, what a great idea! And the picture of the well risen versus flat biscuit is so telling, I’ve had the same experience before!

  7. Don’t have much recipes of biscuits. I guess it is high time I upgrade my skills. I wanna explore biscuits more. I might want to try with this recipe first. Looks really tasty!

  8. Those three magic words: cheddar buttermilk biscuits. I can almost taste them! Absolutely great idea.

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