Sunday, June 10, 2012

Baking Powder Biscuits, gluten-free and vegan

I have been a bit remiss in blogging. It may have something to do with the fact that we have been going places like this:

Crater Lake, which is still very snowy in June. And cold.

Or doing things like this:

Cannon Beach! You can rent a bike and drive on the beach and it is fun! Also, this was the first time I'd been on a bike in years.

...every weekend. The Man and I have been taking a somewhat whirl-wind tour of Things We Love or Have Always Wanted to Do in Oregon Before the Epic Wyoming Move. So of course that means visiting the coast and as many of the national parks as we can get to before moving day arrives.

While eating breakfast on one of these weekend trips, The Man and I both found ourselves lamenting that there isn't much in the way of gluten-free breakfasts to be had at restaurants (he can eat gluten, but often feels sad for me that I can't just order pancakes when we go out). Usually you can have some kind of omelet or potatoes at a restaurant, but we both were thinking how nice it would be to have a good GF biscuit recipe that either of us could just whip up at home.

That got me thinking about weekend breakfasts at my house growing up. My Dad would always (and still does!) make breakfast on Sunday morning. He'd get up at what seemed an early time to me (but I often get up at 5 for my job now, so seven is sleeping in. I must finally be a “real” adult.) and start making eggs and coffee. And there were almost always biscuits. It was a pretty simple recipe, half bisquick, half whole-wheat flour, and all of the add-ins that the bisquick box said to do. I have fond memories of being eight or so, and learning how to shape the biscuits. We don't cut and roll biscuits in my family of origin, you take a wad of dough, roll it into a ball, and stick it on the cookie sheet. They were very, very tasty. In eighth grade, I started making baking powder biscuits from scratch so often that I had the recipe memorized for a while.

Biscuit dough is so simple, surely it must be easy to make gluten-free, I thought. So I took a look in an Amish cookbook I have, and made a couple ingredient swaps to take out dairy and gluten. The result? Tasty, fluffy biscuits that the Man and I happily ate for lunch. They don't quite taste as whole-grain as the biscuits my Dad makes, nor as light as the white-flour ones I used to make, but they are a happy compromise, without the gluten and dairy.

Baking Powder Biscuits
Adapted from “From Amish and Mennonite Kitchens,” by Phyllis Pellman Good and Rachel Thomas Pellman

1 cup coconut or alternate milk of choice
2 tsp lemon juice
2 cups gluten-free flour mix*
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp xanthan gum
¼ tsp sea salt
3 Tbs Shortening (I used Spectrum)

Preheat oven to 450. Combine the milk with the lemon juice, and set aside for at least five minutes**. Meanwhile, whisk together the dry ingredients. This helps make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed. Add the shortening, and blend with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture becomes fine (1/3 inch or less) crumbs. Add the milk-lemon juice mixture about a quarter cup at a time, stirring the dough after each addition. The dough should be slightly wet, so that it clumps together, but not as wet as muffin batter.

Take about 2 tablespoon of dough at a time, roll into a ball with your hands, and press onto a cookie sheet. Flatten the ball slightly. Do this until you have used up all of the dough. Alternatively, roll out the dough to ½ inch and cut biscuits out.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Makes about 10 biscuits.


They were a little more crumbly then normal wheat biscuits, but still held up well to normal toppings like jam.

Incidentally, it has been just over one year since I got my gluten-intolerant diagnosis. I thought about doing some kind of big dramatic blog about it, but I haven't the extra time between my job and getting ready to move. I just wanted to make a note of it, and encourage any people who are newly gluten-free. The adjustment does suck a lot at the beginning, but after a year of this diet, I feel so much better, and it is pretty easy and natural to cook for myself. Hurrah for better health!

* My current favorite flour mix is 2 parts sorghum flour : 1 part millet flour : 1 part brown rice. I keep it in a big container. I think this would work well with part oat, or quinoa, or oat flour, but to make biscuits exactly like these, use 1 cup sorghum, ½ cup millet, and ½ cup brown rice flours.

** Adding lemon juice to milk (either an alternate milk or a dairy milk) makes a sort of cheaters buttermilk. Do this anytime you need a non-dairy buttermilk in a recipe, or if you can have dairy, but don't feel like running to the store just for buttermilk.