Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September is National Biscuit Month: Build A Better Biscuit!

       Yes, I know there are other, more pressing matters going on in this crazy, upside down world in which we live, BUT...I simply had to pause for the cause: September is National Biscuit Month, and have I got a biscuit for you!

Recently, advised by my doctor to lower my cholesterol, I began investigating biscuit making with Earth Balance, a vegan product with no cholesterol made with healthy ingredients. In fact, I made a Bagel, Lox, and Egg Strata last week-end with Earth Balance, Egg Beaters, and Almond Milk and it was just as fabulous as when using the artery clogging ingredients. We use it in our house now  (having made the switch from butter after receiving the cold hard facts from doc.) It's more expensive than butter, but I always say, "I'd rather pay the farmer than the doctor," if you know what I mean. Earth Balance is delicious and tastes like butter. We also switched from Half and Half to a coconut milk product. No more red meat, either. And I walk at least 1 mile a day. But, I digress.

For the sake of time, I admit, I adapted the below recipe from a baker who adapted it from Alton Brown. But as an accomplished biscuit maker...and eater, this recipe works. The lemon juice gives it that extra buttermilk 'tang' one expects from a biscuit. And feel free to slather this mini-work-of-art with Earth Balance. Scrumptious! And one more thing: set the dry ingredients mixed with "butter" to that coarse pea-like consistency back in the 'fridge' for about 15 minutes. This hardens the 'butter' which softened when manipulated into the flour mixture by hot hands.

So here it is. I will use Earth Balance forevermore, in all (most of :) my baked goods. I feel better physically and mentally knowing I'm helping myself stay healthy. Not "earth-shaking," but Earth Balance. Enjoy!

Beauties! So you know what to expect:
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 4 Tbsp non-dairy, unsalted butter (I use Earth Balance)
  • 1 cup unsweetened PLAIN almond milk + 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Add cold butter and use fingers or a pastry cutter to combine the two until only small pieces remain and it looks like sand. Work quickly so the butter doesn’t get too warm.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon, stir gently while pouring in the almond milk mixture 1/4 cup at a time. You may not need all of it. Stir until just slightly combined – it will be sticky.
  5. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, dust the top with a bit of flour and then very gently turn the dough over on itself 5-6 times – hardly kneading.
  6. Form into a 1-inch thick disc, handling as little as possible.
  7. Use a 1-inch thick dough cutter or a similar-shape object with sharp edges (such as a cocktail shaker) and push straight down through the dough, then slightly twist. Repeat and place biscuits on a baking sheet in two rows, making sure they just touch – this will help them rise uniformly. Gently reform the dough and cut out one or two more biscuits – you should have 7-8.
  8. Next brush the tops with a bit more of melted non-dairy butter and gently press a small divot in the center using two fingers. This will also help them rise evenly, so the middle won’t form a dome.
  9. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until fluffy and slightly golden brown. Serve immediately. Let remaining biscuits cool completely before storing them in an airtight container or bag.