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Photo by Alison Shaw

Christmas, the winter solstice and Hanukkah all come at the darkest time of the year, when the harvest has dwindled and nights are long. This is when the aroma of baking biscuits brings comfort and cheer — even more so with the addition of sharp cheddar cheese and snipped chives. These go beautifully with Christmas eve suppers, the holiday main meal and leftovers alike.

Downeast Biscuits

6 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for rolling out
2 Tbsp. cream of tartar
1 Tbsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2″ to 1″ chunks
2 1/4 cups cold milk
Butter and honey or jam, for serving
Optional:
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated, divided
2 Tbsp. chives, finely chopped
Buttermilk for brushing

Preheat oven to 425°.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
Toss cold butter chunks in flour mixture, then cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, forks or fingers, looking for a shaggy consistency with flat lumps of butter.
Stir in cold milk until just combined — dough will look craggy and uneven.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, including any unincorporated dry ingredients in the bowl.
Pat dough into a flat rectangle, then divide in half and layer one half atop the other.
Repeat the patting, dividing and layering one more time.
Roll or pat to desired thickness, about 3/4″ to 1″.
Cut into desired shapes.
Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet 14-16 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through for even baking. Tops should be golden brown.
Remove from oven, brush with melted butter and serve with honey or your favorite jam.

For cheese biscuits, add the chives and 3 oz. grated cheddar to the dry mixture in the bowl before adding the butter. After baking, brush biscuits with buttermilk and sprinkle tops with the last ounce of grated cheese.

From Morning Glory’s Farm Food: Stories from the Fields, Recipes from the Kitchen.