Handle Your Own Biscuit(s)

You can do it.

The drama this week, on top of everything else, was about a backing-up sink in the apartment below me that forestalled much cooking over the weekend. Fortunately I had pre-frozen saag and dal in the freezer. The plumbing professionals did make an appearance (in their gloves and masks), but it was an involved and messy business.

I’ve never been much of a bread baker, but seeing the latest decimation of the bread aisles I thought I’d put my gluten-free flour to use and make some simple, butter-free “buttermilk” biscuits. They go well with a number of the recipes I’ve posted here, especially the soups, but you can also do the breakfast thing. I like to dip them warm in a little garlic oil and balsamic in lieu of garlic bread (yum). They don’t require any yeast, which I hear is also scarce. Best of all, they make you a little more independent of others’ skills in this time of solitude. Take care of your own biscuits, darlins!

The cold-to-hot element is where the magic happens. You get a bigger rise from the contrast of sticking chilly dough in a hot and ready oven. (Some of you peeps familiar with glass implements know what I’m talking about, amirite?) Despite the cheeky title, this is one time when less foreplay is more; the less you handle your biscuits beforehand, the better the end result. The dough is a little dry, but I like the crumbly falling-apart quality of a good pie crust.

The quality of the coconut oil you use really does make all the difference, too. The flavor will suffer if you use the heat-processed, “refined” bargain brands. Save those for your spicy salty stir-fries, and use the fancy stuff for pastries and baking. I was lucky to have gotten in on a BOGO deal for some organic unrefined virgin cold-pressed stuff before all the madness hit, and its flavor is as delicate and buttery as the Dr. Bronner’s I used for the scones.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed all-purpose or 1-to-1 flour, chilled in a medium bowl at least 30 min
  • 1/2 T baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 T solid unrefined virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 c + 2 T cold almond or other plant milk
  • 1/2 T apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 425F. In the chilled bowl, blend the dry ingredients together. Add the coconut oil by tablespoons and cut them into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or fork to make a damp-sandlike mixture with small “beads” of fat no bigger than a small pea.

Combine the plant milk and vinegar or lemon juice in a small bowl. Hollow out a well in the middle of the mix, pour in the “milk,” and blend into a dry-ish dough, making sure not to overmix. If you’re using your hands, run them under cold water first. You can add a few drops of almond milk if it’s a little too dry to stick. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, roll or press down into a 1/2″ thick layer, and cut biscuit rounds with a cutter or a narrow glass. Alternatively, you can do what I do and just make 2″ x 1/2″-3/4″ disc-puffs with your hands so you don’t have to re-roll the leftover bits (which may overwork the dough), and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until just lightly starting to brown. Makes about 8 biscuits at the size indicated. Eat at least some of them fresh out of the oven, because nothing can beat a warm biscuit.

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