We like biscuits around these parts and make them often. Our most frequent biscuit is a cheddar cheese studded biscuit (recipe here but now we use a new favorite that is similar and referenced below) that is inspired by the biscuits at our favorite bakery in Cannon Beach. Back when visiting CB was an annual occurrance, making our own was necessary. Now that we only have to drive for 90 minutes to taste the real deal, we still make them, but without the sense of longing and homesickness that accompanied them in the past. However, driving to the beach every time we have a biscuit hankering isn't realistic so we still make our own when the hankering strikes.
This weekend when I pulled out the ingredients for biscuits my eyes glanced past the slab of bacon in the refrigerator and then quickly went back to it. I like bacon with my biscuits. Why not bacon in my biscuits? Why not indeed. I pulled out that slab of bacon, whacked off a hunk of it and diced it up into 1/4" cubes (I had about 1/2 c of bacon cubes). While the bacon crisped on the stovetop, we diced the cheese into the same size cube and cut the butter into the dry ingredients for the biscuit dough. The cheese and crispy bacon were added to the dough before the buttermilk was incorporated. The dough was patted and folded and rolled and folded and rolled and cut and baked. Out came deliciousness. The buttery biscuits were studded with little gems of bacon and cheese and had that wonderful toasty cheese at the bottom that is my very favorite. Turns out that bacon cheddar biscuits are just as good in real life as they were in my mind.
A side note - ideally you would use unsliced slab bacon for this recipe because you'll have uniformly sized cubes, which is best for even cooking on the stove. We're lucky enough to live in a neighborhood that has a German meat market with delicious slab bacon. You may not be and that's okay. Do buy the best bacon you can find - it makes a difference. We use high quality bacon in small amounts in a variety of dishes. I find that the better the bacon, the less of it I need and the less expensive it ends up being in the long run. Invest in the good stuff and use it in small amounts rather than just eating big slices of bacon. A little goes a long way. Trust me.
And now, the recipe. The basic buttermilk biscuit recipe is based on the one in The Grand Central Baking Book: Breakfast Pastries, Cookies, Pies, and Satisfying Savories from the Pacific Northwest's Celebrated Bakery which is my very favorite baking book. I don't know that buttermilk biscuit recipes vary substantially, but this book has never done me wrong. Ever.
Bacon Cheddar Biscuits (makes 12)
3 cups AP flour
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2" cubes
4 oz medium or sharp cheddar cheese (I use Tillamook medium usually)
1/2" thick slab of bacon, or 4 thick slices of good quality bacon if you don't have slab available)
1-1/4 cups buttermilk, or a bit more if needed
Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment (or don't if your baking sheets are well seasoned like mine).
Cook the bacon on the stovetop until quite crispy. Drain on a paper towel and set aside.
While the bacon is cooking, cube up the cheese and start the dough.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a high sided bowl. Whisk to combine. Cut in the chilled 1/2" cubes of butter with a pastry cutter or with your hands until the texture turns mealy with small chunks of butter in it. Stir in the cheese and the bacon.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk. Mix until it just comes together. Dump out onto a lightly floured surface. If the dough is too dry and crumbly then add in buttermilk as you knead it, 1 tbsp at a time. If you like layered biscuits, then fold and roll out the dough with a rolling pin a few times to create layers. If you don't care about layers, then just pat it out into a 1 - 1.5" thick rectangle. It won't look super smooth and pretty and you don't want it to. Cut 2.5" biscuits with a cutter or with a glass if you don't have biscuit cutters.
Place on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes. They should be golden brown on top. Let cool and eat. Yum!