Flaky Goat Cheese Chive Biscuits

Farley’s Coffee is not renowned for its customer service, which is perhaps why I so enjoyed working there as a barista when I first moved to San Francisco. My favorite part of my job (other than exchanging dirty jokes with my then co-worker and now close friend Vanessa) was informing customers who requested non-fat drinks, “We only have whole, extra-rich milk.” It gave me a sort of glee.

We had a code for difficult customers, coined by my co-worker Jamila who took less guff than anyone else, and that was PITA, which stood for Pain In The Ass. “Hey, did you hear there’s a sale on pita bread?” I’d ask Jamila when a pesky customer made me wash his to-go cup which stank of rancid milk. “I’m really hungry; I think I’ll go get some pita bread for lunch,” she’d tell me with a roll of the eyes while pouring a low-foam, half-caf, not-too-hot cappuccino for an impatient customer.

My other favorite part of working at Farley’s was that the owner would let me sell my homemade scones and cookies. I’d get up at an ungodly hour to bake them off, then spend too much time making artistic signs for their display instead of doing real work. One day I decided to try some flaky chive biscuits from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. The recipe involved rolling the dough out and folding it back up, a process similar to making puff pastry called “laminating.” But after all that work, my layers weren’t very layery, and I preferred the flavor of some simpler parmesan biscuits from Pastries from the La Brea Bakery.

I dubbed the flaky biscuits a real PITA.

But recently, the flaky yogurt biscuits in Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday caught my eye. I realized that since I now laminate my pie doughs regularly, I might find the process of laminating biscuits less annoying than I did 7 years ago.

I did. (Though I would probably still find customers as annoying.)

I recently received a lovely gift from the folks at Jovial – a box brimming with Einkorn berries, flour and pastas. Einkorn is an ancient form of wheat that hasn’t been hybridized, and is sometimes better tolerated by folks who can’t eat modern wheat or gluten.

I tried the flour out in these biscuits, and was extremely impressed. It has a creamy golden hue, like kamut flour, and the consistency is powder-fine, not unlike “00” pizzeria flour. It’s 80% whole grain, with some of the outer bits of bran and germ polished off to prevent rancidity. It has all the benefits of white whole wheat flour, but with a sweeter, more mild flavor. It’s lovely to work with, and I want to use it in everything. (The pasta was superb, too. We cooked it up into a bacony carbonara with lemon and brussels sprouts.)

Rather than being an unnecessary PITA, the layering process enabled me to cram more goat cheese into the biscuits, which I do in two steps: by crumbling it into the dough along with the buttermilk, and by crumbling more over the rolled-out dough. The extra layers, which you can peel apart like a croissant, are very much worth the bit of extra “work.” (Note: the process of making delicious, cheesy biscuits should not be compared to slinging espresso drinks for high-maintenance customers.) Indeed, these are hands down my favorite savory biscuits ever.

When warm from the oven, they are crisp on the top and bottom, with pillowy centers dotted with pockets of tangy, warm goat cheese. Chives, parmesan, black pepper and buttermilk pack them full of savory flavor, and they make any meal – eggs, soup, or salad – feel a bit special.

So I don’t mind high-maintenance biscuits anymore.

But I still plan to stay away from customer service jobs.

Biscuit Blitz:

Cheddar Beer Chive Gougères
Bacon, Beer and Cheddar Scones
Maple-Glazed Bacon Apple Scones

One year ago:

Tarragon Olive Oil Ice Cream

Two years ago:

Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies,
Caramelized Apple Bread Pudding,
Beer Rye Sourdough,

Three years ago:

Tangerine Poppyseed Brunch Cake,
Nibby Matcha Wafers

Flaky Goat Cheese and Chive Biscuits

With inspiration from Baking Illustrated, Super Natural Everyday, Pastries from the La Brea Bakery, and Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

These are superb when made with einkorn flour, which is available in some healthy foodie stores and can be ordered here. Alternately, use regular all-purpose flour, perhaps using half a cup of whole wheat or kamut flour. Einkorn flour tends to be clumpy, so you can skip the sifting step if you’re using a different flour. You can probably use plain yogurt of any fat content in place of the buttermilk, though the amount needed to bring the dough together may be different.

Makes sixteen 2″ square biscuits

2 cups (10 ounces) einkorn (or all-purpose) flour (see headnote)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 3/4 ounces grated parmesan (3/4 cup)
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, in 1/2″ chunks
1 bunch chives, finely sliced
3 ounces fresh goat cheese, plus 3 more ounces for sprinkling (about 1 cup total)
3/4 cup buttermilk

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper. Add the parmesan and butter, and work with your fingertips or a pastry blender until the butter is semi-incorporated with lots of almond-sized butter chunks remaining. Stir in the chives and crumble in 3 ounces of the goat cheese. Add the buttermilk little by little, stirring until the dough just begins to clump together and no dry, floury bits remain. Gently knead the dough in the bowl a few times to bring the dough together into a ball.

If the dough is sticky, or if it becomes soft or sticky at any time, chill it in the fridge for 15-30 minutes.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle that is a scant 1/2″ thick and roughly twice as wide as it is tall. Crumble 2/3 of the remaining goat cheese over the center square of the dough. Fold the outer short edges in to meet at the center. Sprinkle the remaining goat cheese over one long side of dough, then fold the dough in half, like closing a book. You should have a long rectangle of dough layered with cheese. Press down gently to flatten, then roll the rectangle into a loose spiral, starting with a skinny end.

Roll the layered dough into a 7×7″ square that is 3/4″ thick. Trim the edges away (you can bake them alongside the biscuits), then cut the dough into 16 squares. Place the biscuits on a small baking sheet in a single layer and place the pan in the freezer while you…

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and pre-heat to 450º.

When the biscuits are fairly firm (they don’t have to be frozen solid), Place them 2″ apart on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Alternately, store the frozen biscuits in double zip-lock bags to bake off when you like.)

Bake the biscuits until they’re golden on top, 15-18 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5-10 minutes before devouring.

The biscuits are best the day they’ve been baked, but extras will keep at room temperature for a few days. Be sure to re-heat them in an oven or toaster oven until crispy.

39 thoughts on “Flaky Goat Cheese Chive Biscuits”

  1. These biscuits look so killer! I go crazy for savory biscuits and scones, and I will always find reasons to "snack on" several in a day. And I'm super curious about that Einkorn wheat now, which I'd never heard of before! (Also, that bacony carbonara…omg.)

    And that coffee shop sounds like my kind of place. :) Both Johnny and my brother Evan used to work at a cafe called Uncommon Grounds in Burlington, and I've heard them complain about all the obnoxious people and the stupid drinks they order. There are so many online reviews of UG that are along the lines of "great coffee. rude baristas." Teehee.

    1. Ahahaha! That's awesome – sounds just like Farley's. I was told I was one of the nicer baristas, too (probably because they didn't understand our code – they just thought I was obsessed with carbohydrates).

      Thanks for the sweet comment! I let the Jovial rep know that you're einkorn curious, so hopefully you'll get to play with some flour soon. :)

  2. I make la brea mini scones a lot, by far my favorite recipe, but I must try this one! I like goat cheese so much it´s insane, and flaky biscuits are such an indulgence. Incredible recipe Alanna!

    1. Aw, thanks for stopping by, Emily! I've been a sugar plum fan forever. PS. I love that you list your occupation as "gourmande!" I may have to use that next time I'm asked.

  3. I made this tonight and found them kind of mediocre. 450 is too high a temp for these, so the bottoms burned. The cheese swirls look great, but the taste overall is sort of bland (yes, I know they're biscuits).

    1. Thanks for trying out the recipe!

      Hm, I'm sorry they weren't to your liking – we found them quite flavorful; in fact, I made them three times to get the flavor just so. But different ingredients can affect the outcome. I use European-style butter, Einkorn flour, excellent cheeses, a big bunch of fresh chives, and freshly ground pepper. If you used a coarser salt than the one called for (fine sea salt), that could also be the culprit.

      As for the burnt bottoms, 450º is a typical temperature for baking flaky biscuits. It could be that your oven runs hot, or that the baking pan you used had a thin bottom. I never bake without an oven thermometer in place, and I always use sturdy, restaurant-quality baking sheets.

      Hope this helps.

  4. Wow, I can't believe the commenter above thought these were mediocre!! I made these with friends last week alongside some quinoa chili and they got serious rave reviews. Like "you must make these again" reviews. I only used 3 oz. of goat cheese total and thought they were incredibly flavorful! We also used half whole wheat flour and dried rosemary in place of the chives. Also we used almond milk + vinegar in place of the buttermilk and they were still fabulous.

    I'm still so intrigued by this einkorn flour business. I know chickpea flour soaks up a lot more liquid, but do you think a mix of chickpea flour + AP flour + more liquid could work?

    Anyway thanks for the amazing recipe!! I want to make these for Thanksgiving!

    1. Hi Erika,

      Yes, I was surprised to read that comment, too! I'm really glad you tried them anyway, and that they were so well-liked! Quinoa chilli sounds like the awesome accompaniment! I'm glad all of your substitutions worked out so well, too. Thank you for sharing them!

      I have yet to try baking with chickpea flour, so I'm afraid I can't advise how to use it here, though it sounds yummy and definitely worth experimenting with! The nice thing about biscuits is that you can just keep adding liquid until the dough is the right consistency, so I say give it a try and let me know it goes! Happy baking, and thanks for the super sweet comment! :D

  5. These look great- I wanted to try to bring them to an office holiday party. If I make them the night before and freeze them, then stick them in the oven in the morning, is it okay to bake them straight from frozen solid, or should I let them thaw a bit in the morning before sticking them in the oven? Thank you!

    1. Hi there! Yes, they should be fine baked straight from the freezer, or you can pull them out while the oven preheats. They might take a bit longer for the centers to bake fully, so if the tops are browning too much, turn the oven down a bit. They are going to be a huge hit! Happy baking. :)

  6. Hi Alanna, love your pictures i wish i could wat it right out of it..:)
    is there a way to make this with whole wheat flour or light whole wheat pastry flour..will the results be the same also could you recommend something instead of Parmesan cheese..thanks!

    1. Hi! I think either of those flours should work here. Not sure what you want in place of parmesan but asiago, romano, and grana padano are all similer. Dry jack or gruyere or mimolette could be good, too – any hard grating cheese, really.

  7. Alanna,
    This is our go to biscuit recipe for our catering company. We always get raves that it is the flakiest biscuit ever. Thank you for sharing it. I love your blog.

  8. Made these when I noticed some goat cheese needed using in my friend’s fridge. My host mentioned the goat cheese was left out of a previous recipe because they don’t like goat cheese. Too late, already in the oven. For a brief moment I thought I’d made a mistake. Very brief. Stellar. All gone. Not a crumb left. Thank you!!!

  9. The only biscuits I’ve ever made and will continue to make. They are perfectly delicious in every way. You are a genius! Eating them tonight beside some homemade New England fish chowder!

  10. Stan the caterer who left the great comment is a good catering buddy and part of a large catering forum I run. He shared the recipe link a few times and many of us have had great success with this fabulous recipe (using regular or even self rising flour instead of the eikhorn flour). We get rave reviews from our clients too and they are so tender and flaky and lovely. We are based in NYC. This week we are visiting family in England and decided to cook a gala picnic like meal for them and are again using your recipe. At first I couldn’t get to the site so one of the forum members did a screen shot for me. But now I am on my BIL’s computer and wanted to leave a note. We went shopping for the ingredients at local supermarkets and found two logs of goat cheese which were about 30 grams over what we needed per recipe. Well when we opened up the paper to crumble the Chèvre we discovered that this particular brand was a high end rinsed chevre with a soft center and increasingly firmer (yet still creamy) outer bits and a rind like a Brie would have. It tastes delicious so we decided to go ahead and cube it up and test it out. Just waiting for the samples to come out of the oven – which I am positive will be extraordinary – so thanks again!

    1. Oooh, I love a good aged goat cheese! So glad it worked in these biscuits, and honored that they’re so well-loved. That completely makes my day! Thanks a million for the kind note Lisa. <3

    1. Hi Tara! I think swiss would probably work; brie has more moisture, so it might ooze and spread a bunch (but could be amazing!) Let me know what you experiment with. :)

  11. Hey Alanna! Beautiful recipe, as always! I’ve developed a sort of fear for laminating biscuits as well, but I think more experience should do the trick. I’ve been eyeing these biscuits for a while now and unfortunately am clean out of baking soda. What should I do? Do you think I can just omit it or use more baking powder? Thanks in advance. I’m looking forward to making them this week!

  12. Just checking back! The biscuits were AMAZING! They weren’t as flaky as I would’ve liked them to be, but probably be cause I omitted the baking soda! They were delicious, though. I used Monterey Jack in place of Parmesan. My layers weren’t as defined either Any tips? Oh, and what does the baking soda do in terms of flakiness for biscuits? I suspect mine weren’t as flaky do to lack of extra baking soda

    1. Hi Mika! My best guess regarding the flakiness is that maybe it’s the moisture in the jack cheese that’s causing the difference. I don’t think baking soda is needed for flake since pie dough and puff pastry don’t contain any – it’s the layers of butter that do the trick. Keep me posted if you try it again – I’m so curious now!

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