Wednesday, January 25, 2012

biscuits



When Thomas and Hannah lived with us for a few months last fall one of the things that was most fun was sharing the kitchen with Hannah. I count myself very fortunate in my sweet daughter-in-law. I love that we have fun together and one of the things we enjoy together is cooking. One day we made biscuits to go with the soup we were having for dinner. I had forgotten how totally addictive good biscuits are! Now that I have been reminded I keep looking for reasons to whip up another batch. These are seriously so quick and easy - and of course, delicious - I think a biscuit resurgence must be on the horizon. 


Since gluten-free has become important for Eden (and I have read some info about how really it is not that great even for those of us who are seemingly symptom free) I decided to try my hand at a gluten-free version. The happy news? Gluten-free biscuits are even better than the regular old white wheat flour variety. And just as easy. 


Add a little honey butter - or a lot, which is the way I roll I must admit - and we will all be rolling happily along. I simply can't get enough. Dessert is not any better.


biscuits
(from Hannah's mom Melanie)


2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup milk


Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender cut the slightly soft butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour the cold milk over the flour/butter mixture and using a fork quickly blend until most of the flour is incorporated. Don't over-mix!


Lightly dust a board or counter with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Using your hands press the dough out until it is about 3/4" thick. I use a glass to cut the rounds for the biscuits but you can use anything that strikes your fancy. Place the cut out biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet. Gather the remaining dough together (without over working), press out again and cut out more rounds. Continue until you have used all the dough - when I cut mine out using a glass that is about 2" in diameter I usually get about a dozen biscuits. If you want to skip the re-rolling process you can just cut the dough into rough squares using a knife and transfer those to the baking sheet. Just another look and a tiny bit faster.


Bake at 425 F for 9 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Cool on a wire rack or better yet - eat while hot, slathered with honey-butter or butter and home-made jam. 


Tips for a gluten-free version:


This feels like a bit of a cheat (to call it a version) because really all it entails is replacing the white flour with a gluten-free flour mix. Again, I used the C4C from Williams-Sonoma which I like better than two other commercial mixes I have tried as it is not as grainy. I also used my favorite "So Delicious" Coconut Milk that available in the dairy case to replace the milk. Coconut oil would be a good replacement for butter if you don't eat butter but we do so I didn't sub there. The nice thing about using the gluten-free flour is that the caution to avoid over-mixing really doesn't apply. Since there is no gluten the biscuits stay nice and light instead of becoming tough, which is the problem with over-mixing as it develops the gluten. 
Watch the baking time - I found that 9 minutes was too long for the gluten-free version. 7 or 8 minutes was closer to right.


honey-butter
(in case you need to know...)


This is easy- peasy. Just blend equal parts butter and creamed honey* until smooth. For a batch of biscuits I usually use 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup honey. Truly divine.


*If you use liquid honey it works best to beat the two ingredients together with a hand mixer - just makes a lighter spread.


Note: the recipe halves easily and well if you (for some crazy reason) only want to make a few.

8 comments:

Eden Lang said...

oh- I am so excited to try these! thanks mom:)

xoxo

Jessica Duchin said...

I'm not sure how I stumbled upon your blog (many months ago) but I must say, it is one that I truly look forward to reading! Your recipes are incredible (everything I have ever tried has quickly become a regularly made favorite around our house) and your writing is exquisite! The kind words you share about your family and those close to you are so sweetly inspiring. Thank you for sharing little bits of yourself with all of us. I can not wait to try these biscuits later today!

XO
Jessica

Jonathon said...

I went to a great event last night and the Fairmont botched dinner so badly that I couldn't eat it. When I came home at 10:30 and saw this post I didn't even need to finish reading it to know that within 20 minutes I would be eating warm biscuits and honey butter.

Something went wrong and although they were good, they weren't fluffy like the photo. Good thing honey butter makes up for most biscuit failures!

Jonathon said...

any thoughts?

Cheri said...

Jonathon - Two thoughts. Biscuits are really quite forgiving but still a "light hand" is the best approach. In other words don't over-work the dough. But most likely you need a little more milk or a little less flour for a better outcome. The dough is really quite soft and almost sticky. The trick is that you don't know you have too little liquid until it is all mixed and then if you add more... you run the risk of over-working. A conundrum for sure. I guess that's why a kitchen scale is a good investment. But try a scant 2 cups of flour next time you make these and things should work out better. Good luck :)

muggins said...

Is the photo of biscuits made from the gluten free recipe or the 'regular' biscuits?

Anonymous said...

Sea level and Alberta are different for flour measurements!

Cheri said...

muggins - the biscuits in the photo are made from regular white flour. The gluten-free biscuits look exactly the same. In fact, I have made them three times and each time they were very light - more dependably so than with wheat flour.

anonymous - I make no claim to expertise as a baker (I just like to eat good food) but I have never found a need to adjust the amount of flour regardless of whether I was baking in Vancouver, Tokyo, or Calgary. Same recipes, same results. Guess I am just lucky :) I do realize that in theory one would need to make adjustments but in practise I have never needed to. The biggest difference I have found is in the moisture content of the flour, which is reasonable given the huge difference in humidity between the sea level locations and the cold desert I currently live in!