I’ve made Bacon Cheddar Biscuits before. But biscuits, especially Bacon Cheddar Biscuits, deserve to be revisited occasionally. That’s because I tend to make biscuits the same way I was taught and I was taught to use lard.
I like lard biscuits. I like lard because it has an almost imperceptible meatiness. I don’t usually tell people I use lard though. Folks can be downright finicky about lard.
Of course these days a lot of people get finicky about gluten too. It’s hard to fib your way through flour when you serve your guests biscuits. Let’s face it biscuits are fairly elemental. The basic ingredients are, flour, fat and liquid. Most folks know this.
My experience with biscuit making tells me that the fat and the liquid are debatable, but the flour is not. In the South it’s common to find soft wheat flour brands like White Lily (often called cake flour). These low-protein flours will generate less gluten. Making a soft crumbly biscuit. Where I come from there’s no controversy or baggage concerning the flour. It must be White Lily.
But what if I’m wrong? What if a good biscuit can be made with butter and all-purpose flour? The whole idea seems a bit scandalous to me. I’ve made all-butter biscuits before and they had a far less satisfying crumb in my opinion. I strongly believe that lard produces a delicate, silken texture that butter just can’t match. So when I saw a recipe for Bacon Cheddar Biscuits with Maple Chile Butter in the Los Angeles Times recently. I noted that the recipe was made with butter (that’s fine I guess) and all-purpose flour (that’s not). So I rolled my eyes in superiority and nearly turned the page.
That’s when I noticed that the recipe used the folding method of working the dough. Which means you use your hands, a lot. I was taught to touch the dough as little as possible. It’s how you get a biscuit to crumble just right (Isn’t it? Isn’t it?). But what if your goal isn’t a crumbly biscuit with a silken texture, but a flaky biscuit with multiple layers? Would the flour matter in that case (Would it? Would it?)?
Well let me just say, despite the butter, despite the all-purpose flour, and despite me pawing and patting the dough like a 5‑year old with a mud pie– these biscuits were perfect. They didn’t have the same sort of crumble I’m used to, but they were layered in a way I really liked. I guess these Bacon Cheddar Biscuits taught me that you just never know, until you know. GREG