Evidently, or so I’m told, it’s less than a month until a third little bowl is headed our way. What! It doesn’t feel like it. From time to time I catch myself assuming that this is just how life is going to be from now on, having a watermelon for a belly, the mysterious inability to ever feel cold, and a maximum waddling velocity of a couple yards per hour. I assumed for so long that pregnancy would be difficult that it’s disorienting — and, I’m sure, obnoxious — to end up one of those women who actually loved most of it. (Predictably, I’m now just scared about whether the next one will be the one that’s bad.)
Our guy likes to scrunch himself up on my right side and pedal what we assume are his feet into my left; we take turns tickling a nubby limb when it juts out and laugh when he yanks it away or, as he likes to do more lately, pushes back. We like to think he’s saying hello, but I feel like it’s more likely something like could you stop, I need my space. Perhaps the only small hiccup so far is that we found out last week that he’s breech — flip, little dude, flip! B2 has been singing to him at night to try to persuade him to go downstairs. It doesn’t seem to be working for him. But it makes me pass right out, so I’m a fan.
The good thing about our B3’s wrong-side-up status is that we aren’t too worried about any surprises this week, which is a relief because B2 is out of town until Friday for depositions (wah, no lullabies for me, I mean, for baby) and I’m still (figuratively) running around wrapping up loose ends at work. If we don’t settle today, I might actually argue my first hearing tomorrow! (It’s an administrative hearing, so it doesn’t really count. But I will at least address someone as “Your Honor,” so there is that. I’m hoping the belly wins my client points. You think?)
While B2’s out of town, I’ve been eating all the things that he typically doesn’t care too much for, stinky cheeses* and bready things and pumpkin everything. (What am I doing to this child in my belly?) These biscuits are one of those magical things. There’s no pumpkin (though, rest assured, there is a lot of that to come later this month) but it has practically everything else that I love about fall in one buttery, fluffy package. Goat cheese and honey is a combination that’s made itself well at home on this blog, as is figs and goat cheese, so it was inevitable that all three would make their way together at some point. I couldn’t think of any better way than in these cloud-like buttermilk biscuits, tender pillows with jam-like bits of dried fig and melted pockets of goat cheese, brushed with golden honey-butter while hot and slathered with more cheese and jam.
I love aged goat cheese, especially from my favorite Vermont Creamery, for its ability to actually melt like mozzarella or cheddar into a smooth, just slightly chewy consistency, so that’s what I used here — it’s a bit of a splurge, but the balance between the melty bits inside the biscuits and the crisp frico patches on their bellies (!!) is worth every penny. Still, crumbles will work just as well for that same slight burst of salty pungency to balance out the sweet figs and silky honey butter. Much to my delight, I found some late-season figs last weekend, but I couldn’t bear to bake them into biscuits and not enjoy them fresh, so these use dried figs — but you should feel free to use either. Finally, a revisit of Sam‘s stunning book The New Sugar & Spice and her Sweet Fig & Black Pepper Scones gave me the idea to throw in just a tad of black pepper, too — something that adds, I think, just the thing to make it taste just right. All in all, it’s the easiest way to make a quick breakfast — or a slow-rolling pregnant lady making a slow breakfast — feel fancy.
*One of my favorite things about Vermont Creamery is that all of their cheeses are made from pasteurized milk — meaning that even preggies like me are free to devour it in excess. Thank you to Vermont Creamery for providing the cheese and butter used in this post!
- 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour (see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon black pepper (depending on how strong you’d like it; optional, but I loved it)
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons, or 113 grams) butter, frozen or nearly frozen, divided
- 3-4 ounces goat cheese, aged if you can get it (my favorite is this ash-ripened Bonne Bouche from Vermont Creamery) and cut into small pieces (about ⅓ to ½ cup pieces), plus more for serving
- ⅓ to ½ cup diced figs, fresh or dried
- ¾ cup buttermilk (or ½ cup Greek yogurt and ¼ cup milk, whisked until smooth), plus more for brushing, if desired
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Let the butter thaw briefly if it’s fully frozen. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl. Using the largest holes on a box grater, grate 6 tablespoons of the butter into the flour mixture. Use your fingers to toss the butter into the flour just until all the butter shreds are coated. Add the diced goat cheese and diced figs and toss again until all the pieces are coated.
- Add the buttermilk (or the Greek yogurt and milk mixture, which is what I typically use) to the flour-butter mixture, and use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to stir just until a dough comes together.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Use your fingers and palms to gently pat the dough into a rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Fold into the bottom third up and the top third down, letter-style.
- Use the pads of your fingers and palms to gently pat the dough again to about 1/2-inch flat. Fold letter-style again and pat gently again to a 1/2-inch thickness. Finally, fold one more time (for a total of three folds) and pat it gently to about a 1-inch thickness.
- Using a floured biscuit cutter, cut rounds from the dough, taking care not to twist the cutter when you remove the rounds, which may inhibit rising. Gather the scraps and gently pile them into a 1-inch mass again, and cut again until you’ve used up all the dough.
- Place the rounds, sides gently touching, in a cast-iron skillet or on a baking sheet. Brush with milk or buttermilk, if desired, then bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown on top. (Keep an eye on the biscuits starting at about 15 minutes; it may take more or less time, depending on your oven.) Meanwhile, melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter and mix with the two tablespoons of honey. Brush with the honey-butter and enjoy warm, with more goat cheese, fresh figs if you have them, or fig jam.
I have found, happily, that biscuits are surprisingly forgiving. A few variations that I like: (1) If you’d like a lighter biscuit, good for serving with fried chicken or a rich gravy, increase the buttermilk to 1 cup and decrease the butter to ¼ cup (½ stick, 4 tablespoons, or 66 g). (2) If, on the other hand, you want a richer, moister one, you can dial up the butter to a ½ cup (1 stick, 8 tablespoons, or 113 g), keeping everything else the same. The latter is my favorite for plain biscuits on indulgent Sundays.
On the flour, White Lily flour will produce more tender biscuits if you can find it, and you can also try 1 cup cake flour and 1 cup all-purpose. Fortunately, however, I haven’t found a huge difference when using regular all-purpose.