This month’s GF Ratio Rally is brought to you by the humble biscuit. Our host is Gretchen from Kumquat. For other awesome renditions of all things biscuit find the links at the bottom of the post.
My experience making gluten-free biscuits had been less than stellar. My gluten-free biscuits typically resembled glorious hockey pucks, doorstops, or crumbling messes. I’ve never been able to make a decent one although I’ve come close here.
But after reading Ruhlman’s Ratio and thinking about the chemistry of fats, flours and liquids and with a little help from Cap’n
Geek Awesome, science won.
Elements like sweet dairy whey powder, milk powder, and buttermilk all matter in creating a great biscuit (think proteins). Make the fats tasty – like adding in butter – and don’t mess with the dough – don’t overwork it very much. Et voila. There should be biscuits. I must say the first half-dozen tries were truly masterpieces in the truism of how GF sometimes is not so easy. Badly done, all.
But then arrived my true hero, Alton Brown who has yet to fail me. Along with the chemistry lesson from Cap’n Awesome, the Ruhlman ratio (3 parts flour, 1 part fat, 2 parts liquid) and Alton Brown’s magic – this GF biscuit was born – with heartfelt thanks to his late grandmother Mae Skelton. It finally worked. Each time. Really. And nope. We aren’t sick of them yet.
When you use GF flours, the ratio can change slightly. For example – using a larger percentage of starch will mean that you want to cut back on the fats in a ratio. The ratio worked out to be almost on target but ended slightly low in the fats to make it work well.
You can alter the flours if you wish but that will alter the flavor slightly. Remember a few rules and you will be able to make these in a big fat hurry any morning.
- Handle it as little as possible.
- Make sure the dough is sticky wet and not dry.
- Butter and buttermilk are your biscuit friends.
- And don’t leave out the dry dairy whey stuff.
I keep sweet dairy whey powder in the refrigerator sealed in a ziplock bag and though I use it seldom, it is worth the space to keep it on hand. Most stores that carry Bob’s Red Mill will carry this. Or order it here.
The wonderful thing about biscuits is the versatility of what you can do with them. For breakfast, make simple biscuits and top them with butter and jam. For a more elegant presentation, add some thyme, garlic and onion powder to the dough and serve those savory biscuits with a really good ham, shaved into thin slices. Don’t forget the mustard. Try making a batch infused with nutmeg and apple pie spices and serving those biscuits topped with this apple filling and a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
But whatever you do, make these. Everyone will be glad you did.
|Fluffy Biscuits, Gluten Free||
- 280 grams GF flour (120 grams tapioca starch/flour, 60 grams superfine brown rice flour, 60 grams sweet white rice flour, 40 grams powdered sweet dairy whey)
- 4 heaping teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- optional version 1: (1 teaspoon thyme, pinch of onion and garlic powder, black pepper)
- optional version 2: (1 teaspoon cinnamon, pinch of apple pie spice, lemon zest)
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into tiny cubes
- 2 tablespoons Spectrum vegetable shortening
- 200 grams buttermilk, cold (plus about 15-20 grams more)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a small jelly roll pan (quarter sheet pan) with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, weigh flours and powdered dairy whey. Add baking powder, salt, (optional herbs and spices if using) and baking soda. Whisk to combine. Drop in cold butter cubes and shortening. Using your (clean) fingers, mush up the dry with the fats until it looks like coarse crumbs. Work quickly so you don’t melt the butter/shortening. You want big coarse crumbs so don’t work it too hard. Make a well in the center and weigh in 200 grams or so of buttermilk. Using a fork, blend everything together quickly. You want the mixture just this side of sticky wet, so add in a little more buttermilk a tiny bit at a time. Just when it looks sticky wet, stop. Scoop mixture onto a starch covered board and flatten slightly. Using the sides of your hand pat the mixture into a rectangle and square up the corners. You want it almost ½ inch thick. Cut into two-inch logs and then cut those in thirds. You should get between 9 and 12 biscuits. Don’t worry – they grow in the oven.
- Place on the parchment just barely touching one another. Brush a tiny bit of buttermilk on top (if using herbs, you can sprinkle more on top). Place in oven and bake 12 minutes. Rotate pan and bake about 3 minutes more until the tops are golden brown and if you have a thermometer – the temperature in the center biscuit is about 205 degrees. Remove when they look fluffy and golden. Serve warm with butter and jam or stuff with ham and coarse mustard.