Lately, I have started compiling a list of baked goods that I want to try converting to gluten-free. The list includes everything from cinnamon rolls to Lofthouse sugar cookies. Now there are numerous gluten-free recipes at our disposal, but unfortunately the majority of these recipes taste just that way: gluten-free. It is challenging to find a recipe that produces a product just like those of our wheat-eating days. But this is ultimately the goal. And so my mission was set. And to begin, I chose the biscuit.
The image of a biscuit varies depending on your location. In the South, a biscuit is soft and buttery, perfect for making egg sandwiches and sopping up gravy. In the North, on the other hand, biscuits are more similar to scones, slightly more dense and crispy. This is the type of biscuit I grew up with, perfect for shortcake with fresh berries and whip cream sandwiched in between. And this is the biscuit I wanted to make.
In order to accomplish this feat, I turned to one of my most trusted sources: Dorie Greenspan. She has not failed me yet! I adapted her recipe for basic biscuits, and the result was a biscuit with a crispy, crunchy exterior and soft, chewy interior. The flakes are tender and mouthwatering-ly buttery, but the rich flavor is not too intense, making it extremely adaptable for a variety of recipes. These biscuits could be used for anything from shortcake to cobbler, but they are equally wonderful eaten hot out the oven with some butter and jam. Anyway you choose, this recipe will satisfy your search for a gluten-free Northern biscuit. As for a Southern biscuit, that is another one to chalk up on the to-make list.
Notes: The flaky texture of biscuits is made from from solid flecks of butter in the dough melting during the baking process and leaving behind air pockets. As such, it is important that the butter is not melted too much before the biscuits are baked. To do this, make sure your butter and milk is cold and that the dough is worked as little as possible when cutting out the biscuits. Your reward will be a deliciously flaky biscuit!
Another area of note is that biscuits are meant to be eaten straight out the oven. But you can also store these for later use and just rewarm them before eating. Because gluten-free items tend to have a shorter shelf life these biscuits, if not eaten immediately, are best stored in the freezer. But only a quick zap in the microwave is needed to give you that delicious soft texture and buttery flavor of biscuits fresh from the oven. Enjoy!
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 10-12 biscuits
2 cups GF Flour Mix*
¼ cup millet flour
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
¾ cup cold whole milk
Melted butter or milk/cream, for brushing tops (optional)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Drop in cold butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut/rub butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly (the pieces should be the size of peas, oatmeal flakes, and everything in between).
Pour milk over the dry ingredients, grab a fork and toss and gently turn the ingredients until evenly moistened. Gently knead 3 to 4 times in order to incorporate all the ingredients into a dough.
Lightly dust a work surface with GF Flour Mix and turn out the dough. Pat the dough out with your hands or roll it until it is about ½-1 inch high.
Use a 2-inch-diameter biscuit cutter (round cookie cutter) to cut out as many biscuits as you can. Try to cut biscuits as close to one another as possible so you can get the most out of your first round. Transfer biscuits to prepared baking sheet. Gather the scraps, working them as little as possible, and pat and cut out dough as before.
Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter or milk/cream, and bake for 14-18 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden brown. Transfer biscuits from oven to serving plate, or cool on rack for later storage.
*GF Flour Mix
2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch