Dean Pollak woke this morning already dreaming of Christmas breakfast. As ever, she believes there is no time like the present, so she whipped out her handy silpat, bag of flour and ice cold butter and biscuit making commenced. As she got further into her task it occurred to her that not everyone might have Christmas breakfast already chilling in the freezer, and almost as magical as baby Jesus himself, a new Christmas miracle was born. Of course none of the Deans friends will forgive them if they don’t receive a trove of their spicy crispy cheese coins, but now, in addition, they can expect a dozen frozen biscuits ready to be popped into the oven on Christmas morn. Has anyone ever had more thoughtful friends than the Deans?
MAKES 12 to 18, depending on size of biscuit cutter
3 cups self-rising flour, preferably White Lily
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 4 equal pieces
1 1/2 cups whole buttermilk
1. Add the buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough almost forms a ball. Place the dough on a silicone baking mat and begin folding up the sides, right and left, until a ball forms. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Fold one side of the dough into the center and then fold in the other side. Roll out again and refold in the same manner three to six times. (Each roll and fold creates flaky layers within your biscuits.) Roll out one final time until the dough is 3/4 inch thick.
2. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch biscuit cutter or an inverted glass. Place the biscuits on a nonstick baking sheet. Gather the scraps, re-roll, and cut out more biscuits until all of the dough has been used. (At this point, you can cover the unbaked biscuits with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, or freeze for up to 3 weeks).
3. Bake until lightly browned on the top and bottom, 10 to 12 minutes. (Bake frozen biscuits at 425 degrees F for 25 minutes.)
At Christmas time, the Deans receive a cruel lashing from friends if they attend any event without bearing canvas bags overflowing with cheese coins. They are the Academy's signature treats and Dean Manigault's muscled arm is a testament that the cheddar is lovingly grated by hand. Sometimes this can mean up to 25 pounds of cheddar because we have so many friends and students to bestow our coins upon.
16 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups flour
1 heaping teaspoon cayenne
22 twists freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Using a standing mixer or food processor, whirl all the ingredients until combined. Form the cheese dough into 2 logs, about 1 inch in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days (or freeze for up to 6 weeks).
3. Cut the logs into 1/4 inch slices and place on baking sheets. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
4. Serve warm or at room temperature (or let cool and store in airtight containers for up to 7 days).
Having solved the Christmas morning debacle for every and all, we now set our sights to plugging up other holes in the Christmas dike. We are always telling people to cook together and we’ve said it so often that we almost forgot to practice what we preach. This week is going to be dedicated to not only biscuit making, but we are ratcheting up the fun another notch by making batches of gumbo for our freezer too.
Now we are not only ready for Christmas breakfast but pop up dinners too.