Easy Peasy

The other day I saw Giada de Laurentiis make sugar cookies and frosting on her show. She made such a point of how easy it is to make frosting from scratch rather than buying a can, then she proceeded to use store-bought sugar cookie dough, which is no harder to make than the frosting. So often people assume that all baked goods are complicated, time-consuming or difficult to make, and opt to purchase box mixes or ready-made dough which are full of preservatives. I try to make most of my baked goods from scratch, so I know exactly what is going into our food. This time around, I wanted to make cheddar-garlic biscuits (you know, like the ones from Red Lobster), but three-quarters of the recipes I sifted through called for Bisquick, which I don’t use. Why should I when I can make the same biscuits with a handful of basic pantry staples? My food processor and cookie scoop help speed matters along, but you can make them almost as easily using just your fingers and a spoon. As a bonus, I use about half white whole wheat flour in place of the all purpose, boosting the nutritional value of my biscuits.

Cheddar-Garlic Biscuits

1 3/4 C all-purpose flour (or up to half white whole wheat flour)
1 T plus 2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 T vegetable shortening, at room temperature
4 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces
6 oz grated cheddar cheese (about 1 1/4 C)
3/4 C whole milk

For the garlic butter:
3 T unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/4 tsp Old Bay

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Lightly mist a large baking sheet with cooking spray, parchment, or a silicone mat.

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. (If you don’t have a food processor, just stir the dry ingredients together with a spoon. Use your fingers, two knives, or a pastry cutter to cut the shortening and butter into the dry ingredients, until pea-sized. Then use a spoon to stir in the milk and cheese until a sticky dough forms.) 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. (I use my large cookie scoop, which is just this size, to portion the biscuits.)

Meanwhile, make the garlic butter: Melt the butter with the garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook for 1 minute. You could also just stir some garlic powder into melted butter. Remove from the heat and stir in the Old Bay. Brush the hot biscuits with the garlic butter and serve warm.

Source: Slightly adapted from Food Network.

More biscuity options: Buttermilk biscuits, sweet potato biscuits.

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