The bread basket. It’s an almost sacred vessel — lined with soft napkins and piled high with fresh baked bread. When its brought to the table, you know dinner is an occasion. But what’s you’re favorite? Soft, yeasty rolls or flaky, buttery biscuits? To be clear, if there’s homemade bread, I’m not going to be overly picky! But if I had a choice… it’s biscuits! Hands down — and these Parmesan Black Pepper Buttermilk Biscuits are tops!
It probably stems from my childhood — growing up in Virginia, biscuits were the de-facto “toast”. Every breakfast joint served biscuits with their standard eggs and bacon. Smithfield Ham biscuits are “the standard” for entertaining in the Tidewater area – found at weddings, baby showers and Christmas parties. And biscuits, in my personal opinion, are arguably the best vehicle for transporting butter and jelly to your mouth!
While we all enjoy a good buttermilk biscuit, you can also dress them up with other mix-ins to make them more savory or sweet, depending on your mood and the occasion.
In this version, I’ve used fresh cracked black pepper and Parmigiano Reggiano – the real parmesan, for a spicy, nutty flavor. Finishing them with a brush of cream and a sprinkle of demerara sugar gives these mile-high beauties a hint of sweet that’s irresistible.
The key to good biscuits is to not overwork the dough. Mix it until it just barely comes together. I don’t use a rolling pin, instead just forming it into a small rectangle with my hands and making sure that the dough measures at least 1 1/2″ high. A sharp biscuit cutter that is pressed into the dough (without twisting) will give you those beautiful rough sides that everyone associates with a good biscuit.
When you put them on your baking sheet, make sure they’re almost touching, but not quite. This recipe makes eight large biscuits. If you’re serving to a holiday crowd, you may want to double the recipe.
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 1 stick plus two tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup cream
- 2 tablespoons demerara sugar
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon of black pepper and grated cheese. Whisk to combine and add the butter. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse meal -- it's ok to have some larger, pea-sized pieces of butter too. Add the buttermilk and stir until just combined.
- Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough 2-3 times -- just until it holds together in a solid shape - but don't overwork it. Pat out the dough until it's about 1 1/2" tall. Use a 2" biscuit cutter to cut out the biscuits -- do not twist the cutter in the dough -- just press straight down. Assemble the scraps and pat them into another 1 1/2" tall form and continue making biscuits. Transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet.
- In a small bowl combine the demerara sugar with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Stir to combine.
- Brush the tops of the biscuits with cream and sprinkle with the sugar mixture. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Serve hot from the oven.