Biscuits are one of my favorite foods. And by biscuits, I do not mean the British-type you dunk in your tea in the afternoon, but the scone-like versions, with fluffy, buttery interiors. After being diagnosed with coeliac disease, I figured that there was no way I could enjoy them again, yet I stumbled upon a biscuit recipe that produces stunning results once I adapted it to be gluten-free.
Even better, the biscuit recipe has three ingredients and takes under 20 minutes start to finish. Who said biscuits are hard to make?
As I child, I was raised on the Pillsbury “home-style” biscuits in a can, the one that popped when you unraveled the packaging. I remember the hard, plastic-like shards of “butter” that dotted the dough. High quality they were not, but they satisfied my biscuit cravings.
My mother, bless her, tried repeatedly to make her own biscuits. Her effort was not met with great success. They were often closer to a hockey puck in texture than a soft, delicious breakfast pastry. I figured that biscuits must be difficult to make and require professional precision to execute properly.
A few years ago, keen to improve my baking, I set out to make biscuits. The results were good, but the process was tedious. First, I had to cut the ice cold butter into the White Lily brand flour (the quintessential brand than all Southern US bakers use) before embarking on numerous intricate folds of the dough to create layers, resulting in a flaky, buttery interior. If I overworked the dough, or didn’t incorporate the butter evenly, and the biscuit I worked so hard on was disappointing.
At the time, I was busy managing restaurants, so I didn’t have a lot of spare time and biscuits were not a top priority over say, spending time with Julie or having a life.
A few weeks ago though, I came across this recipe from Serious Eats that seemed almost too simple. Could it work? More importantly, could I adapt the recipe to make it gluten-free and still make it work?
After a few trial runs, I can say with confidence that, yes, I can make gluten-free biscuits, with a crunchy exterior shell and a warm, soft, rich interior within 20 minutes, start to finish, with only 3 ingredients. The most time consuming aspect of the recipe is pre-heating the oven. It’s that easy.
1 2/3 cups Gluten-Free Flour Blend
1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
-Preheat the oven to 400˚F (200˚C)
-Combine the sugar and the gluten-free flour in a bowl and mix. Add the heavy cream, using a wooden spoon or spatula to mix.
-The ratio of dry and wet should result in a dough that can be formed into a ball and and remain tacky or wet to the touch. Using a spoon, scoop 3 oz (85 grams) of dough and form into a rough, biscuit shape, flattening the top. You should be able to make 7-8 biscuits. If you do not have a scale to weigh each biscuit, you can use a large ice cream scoop to get to the right size.
-If you have leftover heavy cream, brush the tops of the biscuits with a little cream prior to baking to get a more golden brown crust.
-Bake for 16 minutes, rotating the biscuits halfway through the cooking. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on a wire rack. Slather with jam or honey and enjoy!
Notes: For those who can consume gluten, the original recipe on the Serious Eats site will work well. I did adapt the ratios of the flour and heavy cream for the gluten-free version, since gluten-free flour reacts to moisture differently than traditional wheat flour. The mix is also light on sugar, resulting in a more neutral flavored biscuit. If you prefer sweeter biscuits, you can add two more tablespoons of sugar. If you want to experiment with more savory ingredients, you can add a little cheddar and chopped scallions to the dough before baking.
Personally, the first task of the day tomorrow morning will be whipping up a decadent breakfast sandwich, with a fried egg and a strip of bacon sandwiched between a sliced and toasted biscuit. What a great way to start a day!