baking, disaster, williamsburg cookbook

Cheese biscuits

Yesterday Josh and I had a simple night in. Cooking dinner, watching the latest New Girl episode, talking about our days. As part of our goal to become more mindful, healthful eaters, Josh made a delicious vegetarian chili, chock-full of sauteed veggies, onions, and spicy peppers, ladled over brown rice.

Before he started cooking, I thought about what else we could add to the meal to round it out (my brain is full of terms like this ever since I started obsessively reading Bon Appetit and Cooking Light). I’d been eyeing a cheese biscuit recipe in the Williamsburg cookbook, and that seemed like the perfect accompaniment.


All went well as I mixed the dough. It’s a simple recipe, flour and salt and butter and cheese. I love cheese, friends. It makes everything better. Someday I’ll have to give you my rapturous ode to cheese (when I’m feeling more positive about it). But then it came time to cut the biscuits for baking.

Why yes, that is one half of a tea ball infuser sitting right next to the cut biscuits. What’s that, you say? They’re the same size? I must have cut the biscuits with a tea infuser?

Sigh. It’s true.

See, back in ye olde colonial Williamsburg, “biscuits” meant “crackers.” Or “biscuits,” too; it was one of those catch-all terms. This lovely recipe, which put me in mind of fluffy, substantial cheese biscuits in the style of Joy the Baker, actually tells you to make them cracker-sized. So I did. With my tea infuser.

These “biscuits” cook up nice and crispy, with a subtle cheesy bite. But they’re just the same size as quarters or buttons, and when you prick them with a fork before baking, they kind of start to resemble banana chips. Or buttons.

(I called them “cheese buttons” in the privacy of my kitchen.)

So, Josh and I turned to another recipe I messed up in the past: vegan quinoa cornbread. Last time we tried it we were also making soup with barley, and I may or may not have mistaken the barley for quinoa. And made barley cornbread. This time I was determined to get it right! If we couldn’t have fluffy cheese biscuits (though they did make a wonderful pre-dinner snack), we would have fluffy vegan cornbread.

And let me tell you, friends, we did.

Cheese Buttons
(adapted from The Williamsburg Art of Cookery)

1 cup flour
1/3 cup butter, cubed
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar and leftover asiago)
1-2 tbsp cold water, as needed

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Whisk the flour and salt together until combined. With your fingers, rub the cubed butter into the flour mixture until it resembles cornmeal. Add the cheese, and mix it into a stiff dough. If needed, add one tbsp of water at a time until the dough comes together.

On a flat, floured surface, roll out the dough to a 1/2-inch thickness, and cut with very small pastry/cookie cutter (your tea infuser, if you have one, makes a very nice-sized cracker). Arrange the crackers on an ungreased cookie sheet and prick with the end of a fork. If you like, prick crosswise so the crackers resemble buttons. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the bottoms of the crackers are just beginning to turn golden brown.


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