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Roxana Jullapart’s White Cheddar Cornmeal Biscuits

Makes 8 to 10 biscuits

It’s important to use a biscuit cutter, which is easy to find in cooking supply stores. Biscuits with clean-cut sides will rise better. As an alternative, you can cut the dough into 2½-inch squares with a sharp chef’s knife, making sure to wipe the blade clean after each cut.

I top these biscuits with shredded white Cheddar and fresh thyme, so I like using white cornmeal. You could try a variation with yellow cornmeal, yellow Cheddar, and minced chives or serve the bare biscuits alongside butter and jam or with gravy.

As a refined and manufactured product, self-rising flour has been stripped of all fiber and nutritional value. In the process, it has been rendered flavor neutral—a perfect canvas for butter, lard, or buttermilk that contributes no flavor from the grain itself. But it turns out, it’s totally possible to bake a buttery whole-grain biscuit filled with flaky layers. Whole-grain biscuits may feel a degree denser than white flour counterparts, but they’re packed with flavor, texture, and nutrition. I especially enjoy making biscuits with yellow or white cornmeal, which makes them wholesome without compromising the biscuits’ quintessential lightness. I’ve always found traditional biscuits a bit doughy in the middle, and cornmeal remedies this, while creating a crunchy exterior. If this sounds enticing, use equal parts cornmeal and all-purpose flour, as given in the ingredients list. For a lighter biscuit, use a higher percentage of all-purpose flour. Use 2½ cups (350 grams) all-purpose flour and 1½ cups (240 grams ) fine cornmeal instead.

Biscuit experts are wholly convinced that self-rising flour is a prerequisite for tender, fluffy biscuits. And they’re right. Self-rising flours blend softer wheats with leavening agents to achieve incredible heights and billowy softness. Serious southern biscuit bakers have used White Lily Flour, a well-loved self-rising flour brand, to make biscuits for generations. But self-rising flour is the antithesis of everything a whole-grain enthusiast like me favors.