We’ve already established here that I think most GF packaged baked goods are pretty terrible and not worth the money. Since I love baking in general, and my sweetheart is gluten free, this means I spend a fair amount of time adapting recipes so that they work for her AND are delicious enough to eat even if one isn’t avoiding the gluten.
Hence my search for the perfect GF biscuit. I’ve lived in the South for my whole adult life (Kentucky, Louisiana, and now North Carolina) and I have DEFINITE ideas about biscuits. And here’s my confession: on the road to this recipe, I have made some TERRIBLE biscuits. Really bad. Flat, salty, soapy (too much baking powder), they fell apart or were basically crackers.
My poor biscuit victims (often E) were very kind, and ate them all, but I knew they were bad. And here’s the thing: if you haven’t eaten regular wheat baked goods for a long time, even the lousy things might taste pretty good. After all, you’re having a hot biscuit, how bad could they be?
So I kept fiddling with the recipe, tweaking the leavening, the proportions of the different gf flours, and made sure to KEEP the things that really give biscuits their flavor: fresh buttermilk and really good fat. Yes, I’m making biscuits with lard. And I tell you what, these are more than ‘biscuits that don’t suck’. These are actively good, light, flavorful…crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside.
You could make these for a group of folks, only some of whom are gluten free, and everyone will enjoy them, I promise.
Real Biscuits (gluten free)
All you really need here is a bowl, some measuring cups and spoons, a knife, and a baking pan.
1 cup white rice flour (or 100 g)
.5 cup tapioca starch (or 50 g)
.5 cup cornstarch (or 50 g)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
.5 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 t salt
5 Tablespoons cold lard (or 6 Tablespoons cold butter)
3/4 c plus 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
Like my previous GF recipes, I want to encourage you to seek out and use asian gf flours: they’re much finer milled than the stuff at the health food store, and they are also substantially cheaper. Measure the dry ingredients into a bowl. I’m still on my Great British Bake Off kick, and so have been weighing everything, but you can just measure it with standard American measuring cups as well. Once everything but the fat and buttermilk are in the bowl, gently mix all the ingredients together.
Add your chosen fat to the flour mixture, and break it up into the flour using your fingers. Your goal here is to break it up until roughly half the fat is pea sized, and the rest is like cornmeal. Then flatten out the larger bits, making flour-coated fat flakes. Doesn’t that sound like the world’s weirdest breakfast cereal?
Make a well in the center, and pour in the buttermilk all at once. Using a rubber spatula or your fingers, gently mix the liquid in until everything is equally moistened. You don’t really need to worry, like you do with regular biscuits, that you will overmix and develop the gluten, making them tough. But you DO want some of your fat to remain in larger bits, so mix gently.
Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop (I use a bit more of the white rice flour), and flatten it out slightly. Then pick up one side of the dough, and fold it over the mass, like you’re folding a letter. I fold the right third in, then the left third in, then reflatten. Repeat from the top and the bottom, and flatten again. I don’t really use a rolling pin with this, although you could, because the dough is soft and tender. Hands work pretty well.
Please note: I’ve patted the dough out pretty thin here, because I’m going to make breakfast sandwiches with this, and I don’t like them to be too thick. But if you’re making biscuits to have with fried chicken, or you just like thick biscuits, pat them out about a half inch thick, and cut them into 6 instead of 9.
I cut the biscuits with a knife, rather than a biscuit cutter, because then you get them all cut in the first round, and don’t need to reroll the scraps. Brush the tops with a little melted fat of your choice, and pop them into a hot 450 degree oven.
Bake for 14 minutes.
I’m actually writing this with one by my elbow, dripping with melted butter and homemade rhubarb jam. Don’t you want to eat that?
Until next time,
This post submitted to the Homestead Blog Hop #28. Thanks for visiting!