Bread Breakfast

Apple Jack biscuits

Apple Jack biscuits | Homesick Texan

There’s a new member of my family. His name is Jack Jernigan. He’s not the first Jack Jernigan, however, as that was my grandfather’s name. To keep things clear, my cousins have started calling their baby boy Apple Jack. This is a perfect name.

Apple Jack Jernigan, while half Texan, was born in Manhattan. He arrived at the height of the pandemic, at a time when most of New York City was still under lockdown. In fact, it was unclear until the last minute if his father, my first cousin, would even be allowed in the birthing room. Fortunately, he was, and so Apple Jack came into the world welcomed by two people who love him very much.

While Apple Jack has devoted parents, because of the pandemic that’s the only family he’s seen, save for his Uncle Andrew who also lives in New York City. Apple Jack is loved by many, but he hasn’t yet met his grandparents, great-grandparents, great-aunts, great-uncles, or cousins.

Thankfully, there’s technology that allows us to witness him in action. His McKinney, Texas family, including his grandfather, his great-grandmother, and his great-uncle, even had a Zoom dinner where they prepared Texan foods and shared their images and voices on a large-screen television. Currently, that’s about as good as it gets.

Apple Jack biscuits | Homesick Texan


We’re all sad we haven’t yet spent time with him in person, but we’re hopeful that will change soon. He’s a beautiful addition and we all look forward to getting to know him one day. For now, however, we will continue to enjoy his company via the only means we have. That will have to do.

Apple Jack’s namesake, his great-grandpa Jack, has been gone for over 10 years, so sadly, neither will meet. But with family, there are many ways to feel close to others even when their physical presence is no more. In our family, cooking beloved family recipes is one way we stay connected.

For instance, his great-grandpa was famous for his pancakes. Every Saturday morning he’d get up, and even though he’d spent a long week at his job helping others, he gave service to his family by making them breakfast.

He passed to his family that love of cooking something special for others. So, my brother also makes pancakes, my uncle makes granola, my grandma makes pies, my mom makes beans, and my Uncle Richard, who is Apple Jack’s grandfather, makes salsa.

While we’re not able to gather at our family table right now, when I pondered the dishes my family shares with each other, I knew that when we did get together again we’d have a mighty fine feast. As for my contribution, I enjoy cooking many things but perhaps the one thing my family requests most often is biscuits. I have my recipe and method down pat and preparing a batch always calms my spirits and brings me joy.

Now, I find that biscuits are wonderful unadorned but they also form a welcome template to a host of other ingredients, such as sweet potatoes, jalapeños, and pecans. You can add almost anything to a basic biscuit dough and it will turn out delicious. So, in honor of my newest cousin’s darling name, I decided to make apple Jack biscuits.

Tart, sweet apples pair well with creamy, sharp cheese, and while traditionally Cheddar is used, I thought a lively pepper Jack would go well with the juicy fresh apples I had on hand. I also threw in some chopped chives for a savory hint and while not necessary, some crumbles of smoky, meaty bacon is a hearty addition.

These apple Jack biscuits are soft, sweet, and savory, with a flaky, tender crumb. They’re best warm, fresh out of the oven and I like to spread them with a pat of creamy butter though they are just as good on their own.

I share these apple Jack biscuits in honor of our newest family member. And while we haven’t met him yet, we can make these and think about the gift of cooking for others and how wonderful it will be when we can share them in person soon.
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Apple Jack biscuits | Homesick Texan
5 from 5 votes
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Apple Jack biscuits

Course Breakfast
Cuisine Southern, Texan
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 biscuits
Author Lisa Fain

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into slices
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) pepper Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 baking apple (such as Gala or Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 2 slices cooked bacon, diced (optional)
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F and lightly grease a baking sheet or a 10-inch cast-iron skillet.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Cut the butter into pieces, and work into the flour mixture with your hands or a pastry blender until it resembles pea-sized crumbs.
  3. Add the pepper Jack, apples, chives, and if using, the bacon, and stir until well blended with the flour. Pour in the half-and-half and stir until a shaggy dough forms.
  4. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for a minute. Now the dough should be smooth and no longer wet. (You can sprinkle more flour on the surface if you find that it’s sticking.) Roll out the dough until it’s 1/4 of an inch thick and then fold over in half.

  5. Using a round cutter, cut the biscuits from the folded dough. (You may have to gather the scraps and roll again if you run out of room while cutting.) Place the cut biscuits on the greased baking sheet close together (so they rise and not spread) and bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
  6. They are best straight from the oven, especially with a pat of butter, but they can be baked ahead and then reheated for 10 minutes or so at 400°F in an oven or toaster oven. They will last in an airtight container for 3 days. You can also freeze them after cooking and then let them thaw before reheating.
  1. 5 stars
    What a terrific recipe. Made these for lunch–nothing wrong with yummy biscuits any time of day! Even though I included the bacon, we stuck maple sausages in the middle, and froze half the batch for a treat in a week or two. We ate a big salad, too.

    And thank you for sharing this wonderful story. I’m stuck here in NC simply frantic to see my 2 week old granddaughter in Austin–the first girl after 5 perfect boys, 3 of whom are also in Texas–so I’m totally sympathetic to every family stranded from loved ones. I’m also thinking about all of our ancestors who populated this country and who set off into the “wilderness” to make new lives and never again saw their loved ones. I fully expect to get to Texas as soon as a vaccine is available, but in the meantime, when compared to previous generations, a self-imposed quarantine is a minor thing to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors safe. And thank God for the internet!

    • Lisa Fain

      Janet–That was quick! I’m so glad you enjoyed the biscuits and I love your idea to include maple sausages in the middle. Congratulations on your new granddaughter, and may all this end soon so you can finally meet her. I can’t imagine how we’d gotten through all this with the Internet so thank God for it indeed!

  2. Those sausages were patties to make sandwiches after the fact–I didn’t bake them that way

    • Lisa Fain

      Janet–Nothing better than a sausage patty and biscuit sandwich!

  3. You mention cutting biscuits from folded dough. There are no directions to fold the dough. Also, 1/4 inch seems thin for rolling out biscuits. Is this correct?
    Thank you for all of the wonderful recipes over the years!

    • Lisa Fain

      Nancy–Thank you! After rolling it you then fold it in half, then proceed with the recipe. Enjoy!

  4. Margaret

    Do you have a calorie count for these biscuits as written not that this would stop me from making & eating them I just track my numbers to stay ahead of the game.
    I love your site
    I’m a homesick Texan as well, grew up in Galveston and get home 4-5 times a year although I’ve been living is NYC / Borough of Staten Island for over 30 years Texas is and will always be home.

    • Lisa Fain

      Margaret–Using an online recipe calorie calculator, I learned that if you make 8, it would be 298 calories (or 278 if you substituted buttermilk for half and half). If you make 10, it’s 238 or 222 depending on the cream. I hope that helps and you’re doing well on Staten Island!

  5. For your regular biscuit recipe you list buttermilk as an option. Does that work with these? I’ll probably make them to go with brisket tonight.

  6. Beth Fain

    What a wonderful tribute for my Greatnephew Apple Jack! I can’t wait to meet him but will make some biscuits in his honor in the meantime.

  7. Mary R Cone

    5 stars
    I couldn’t wait to make these biscuits after I saw the recipe. My husband said he thought they were the best biscuits he had ever had! I had to cook them much longer than the recipe called for, though. But they were fine after that. Thanks so much for the delicious recipe.

    • Lisa Fain

      Mary–Yay! I’m thrilled you and your husband enjoyed them so much!

  8. I just made these and they are indeed, wonderful! I plan on using one or two of them in my mom’s cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving.. I’m thinking the apple will give the dressing a little “hmmm” effect. Thanks for sharing!
    Brenda in the piney woods of East Texas;

    • Lisa Fain

      Brenda–That is a brilliant idea! I love it and may have to try that myself. Thanks for sharing your plans and I’m so glad you’re enjoying the biscuits.

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