baking, cheddar-sage biscuits, comfort food, Cooking with Herbs, herbed cheese biscuits, savoury baking, Shop Local, Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving baking, Thanksgiving biscuits, Thanksgiving dinners, Thanksgiving tradition, Thanksgiving traditions, The Biscuit Barrel, traditional Thanksgiving recipes, Williams-Sonoma
My Canadian friends have just celebrated their Thanksgiving. The Americans get theirs next month. Here in Britain, of course, there is no such official holiday; but for the past several weeks in church we’ve been celebrating the season of harvest and giving of thanks, so it seemed like a good time to indulge in my favourite Thanksgiving tradition: cheddar-sage biscuits.
I’ve been making these biscuits every Thanksgiving—and usually on Christmas, too, and even occasionally on Easter (yes, they are that good)—for about ten years now. This makes me sound like such an old hand at Thanksgiving dinners, but the fact is I started the tradition when I was eleven or twelve years old, I can’t remember which, and my mum still does all the really hard work on Thanksgiving. So far, I have worked my way up to making the pie, cranberry relish, and cornbread for the stuffing in addition to the biscuits, but have yet to tackle the turkey.
I was living in Colorado, and my family had driven down to Colorado Springs to see some relatives. It was sometime in November. While walking through the strip mall across from our hotel, with Christmas music playing and strands of lights festooning the storefronts, we wandered into a Williams-Sonoma store, where we were greeted with samples of mashed potatoes, and the aromas of herbs, cranberries, and pan gravy.
So when I unscrewed the lid of the dried sage to add it to my biscuit dough, its scent was an echo of that aroma, and all that it means: first, autumn colours, then the breeze turned cold, scarves and boots to wear, the season of Advent, frost and perhaps even snow, and finally all the glorious reds and golds of the Christmas season. In the kitchen, there are warm spices and dried fruits, roasts and mounds of golden stuffing. And, of course, these biscuits.
I am also submitting them to Lavender and Lovage’s Cooking with Herbs challenge. The theme was “Scarborough Fair,” so anything with sage, of course, is quite appropriate. I have done another recipe as well, using more of the herbs in the song; that will be up in a day or two.
In the biscuits, I used a cheddar that I picked up from my local market (the farm where the cheese is produced is just down the road in the next town), so I am also submitting it to the Shop Local challenge at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.
Barely adapted from a Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving recipe booklet
Ingredients:1 cup (145 g.) all-purpose flour 1 cup (150 g.) whole-wheat flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon kosher salt ½ cup (120 g.) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes 2 teaspoons dried sage 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated (choose a good, aged variety with a strong flavour) ⅔ cup (160 ml) milk
- Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F. Butter a baking sheet.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, and salt.
- Using your fingertips, rub in the butter briefly, leaving large flakes visible.
- Stir in the sage and grated cheddar. Add the milk and stir until the dough comes together.
- Turn out onto a floured counter and knead just until smooth, about a dozen times is all you need.
- Pat out into a ½-inch thick round. Cut into biscuits with a 2-inch round cutter and place on the prepared baking sheet. Gather the scraps together. Re-roll and cut into rounds as well, handling the dough as gently as possible.
- Bake until the biscuits are a rich golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Transfer to a wire rack and let cool briefly before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. They are particularly nice when served hot, with a dollop of bracingly cold cranberry relish.
Yield: about 1 dozen biscuits