Tuesday, May 11, 2010

biscuit love, baby

Any person from the South will tell you that any kitchen that does not produce biscuits is not a kitchen. Biscuits are the staple- you have them for breakfast, you have them with roast, and you even use them for dessert. Now, traditional Southern biscuits are usually made with low protein white flour; I have a bag of White Lily flour for just such a purpose, or you could also use cake flour because that low protein is what gives them that ethereal fluffiness, that lightness of crumb that tastes divine right out of the oven and even better with butter. But how do you make fluffy biscuits gluten, dairy & soy free? Fortunately, I did not have to much figuring out myself! Once again Cybele Pascal's Baker's Handbook had a fabulous recipe for baking powder biscuits! I changed it up a little, as tinkering is just a part of my nature, and I liked the texture of a little more cornstarch, the coconut flour & believe it or not just a bit of brown rice flour. The solid dairy free, soy free vegetable shortening stood in for butter. Anyone who has ever put Crisco in the freezer to bake knows that it never quite gets solid in the freezer, so it works perfectly; however, Spectrum makes their shortening with palm oil. Which gets SOLID. I had to grate it on a box grater into the flour mix! However, that is actually a technique(I found out later)that the Cook's Illustrated people use to get precisely even amounts of fat into their biscuit recipe. I also did not use a biscuit cutter; in my family we made biscuits round by pulling off part of the dough, gently patting it into a vaguely round shape, and then dropping them onto the hot cookie sheet. The other traditional thing I did was oven temperature; I cranked the oven to 500 degrees to preheat. Then when I put in the biscuits in, I immediately turn the oven down to 400 degrees; the initial boost of heat helps boost the volume of the biscuit, helping to achieve that coveted fluffiness. I will say these are not the same as grand mama's biscuits-but they are flat out amazing for being gluten free vegan biscuits. You can see in the picture we used some of the leftover biscuits for strawberry shortcake (notice the whipped rice cream from a can!) Love the biscuit, baby!
I also linked this post to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

G-free, Vegan Biscuits

3 1/2 cups gluten free flour mix (I like Bob's Red Mills)
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons corn starch (if you can't do corn, sub as needed)
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
2 tablespoons brown rice flour (I like Authentic foods)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 tablespoons double acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon evaporated cane juice
1 cup dairy free, soy free vegetable shortening, chilled (I like Spectrum-if you want to grate it into your flour, measure this cup at room temp, then put in the freezer. otherwise, measure the cup and put in fridge)
2 cups plain yogurt (I used coconut)

Preheat oven to 500 degreesF. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together your flours, starches, xanthan gum, salt, cane juice, & baking powder.
Now, grate your frozen shortening into your four mix. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers until you have a pea sized crumb, and when compressed the flour mix holds together. Add the yogurt and stir until just combined, making sure you incorporate the crumbs at the bottom of the bowl. Okay, if you just can't make biscuits without a biscuit cutter, dust a work area with gfree flour mix. GENTLY pat dough into a 1 inch thick disc, pressing in any loose bits. Use a 2 1/2 inch floured round biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits. Cut them as close together as possible and DO NOT rotate the biscuit cutter- straight up and down, in and out of the dough. Transfer biscuits to baking sheet. (you can also brush the tops with milk of your choice, for shiny topped biscuits) Now, I just pull off a racquetball sized piece of dough, GENTLY pat it into a 1 inch disc (maybe 2-3 pats, max- the less you handle to dough, the better your biscuits will be) and transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat until all biscuit dough is gone. The biscuit cutter will garner you 12 biscuits. You get 14 with my grand mama's method. Now as soon as you put the biscuits in the oven, TURN DOWN the temperature to 400 degreesF. Bake in center of oven for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden. Transfer to rack to cool or eat warm.

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