Homemade Biscuits

So I make biscuits fairly often. When the girls were wee little tykes I found this amazing buttermilk biscuit recipe that became my absolute favorite; ya know, the kind of recipe that gets the special laminated sheet and first slot in the Bread Recipes Binder.

It's a special recipe and I make these special biscuits on Sunday mornings or whenever we have house guests. It's always fun to 'wow' house guests with home-made biscuits: "You made these biscuits, from scratch?" They think you slaved. They're impressed.

But the reality is biscuits couldn't be easier to make. They're actually easier to make than muffins, yet when you make muffins from scratch you rarely hear "you made these muffins, from scratch?" (as if there's any other way?) And while we're on the subject, if you're still making muffins from boxes STOP IT! For the love of all things food it's just pre-mixed dry ingredients! Pre-mix it yourself and keep it in a jar if you need to but stop paying someone else to pre-mix flour for you! It has weird ingredients in it. It probably has chemicals leaking from the plastic it's packed in. It's a waste of packaging. It's just wrong. It supports a level of laziness in the kitchen that symbolizes a lot of what's wrong with our western diets. I can understand the cake mix to a certain degree as that is perhaps a different beast, but boxed muffin mixes and cookie mixes and cornbread mixes and biscuit mixes and ugh, Bisquick? No no no and no!

The main ingredients in biscuits are flour, baking powder, salt, butter or shortening and milk (usually buttermilk). Nothing exciting. I suppose it's the 'rolling out of the dough' that scares people off. And for years when I was making biscuits I used a pastry cutter to add the butter. But you can make the same delicious biscuits without having to do either of these things. Just turn the dough out on a floured surface, flip it a couple of times, shape it into some sort of rectangle and pop it in the oven. Done! You don't need to use round cutters to cut biscuits into shapes (you can, but you don't need to). You don't need to even separate out the dough into pieces (drop biscuits). Just shape it and bake it. Once it's cooked then you can cut it into squares or just let your guests cut their own chunks out. You do want to lightly make some cut lines in the top of the dough before baking just to allow for air flow, but geez, that's nothing compared to the mess of spooning muffin batter into the pans.

See the one thing I've learned about making muffins, biscuits, pancakes, cornbread, etc is the more you mix and roll the denser the bread. The secret to light fluffy non-yeasty breads is to not over mix. It should still be chunky, it should not be batter-smooth like cake batter or brownies. Resist messing too much with the dough. You'll not only save time in the kitchen but you'll have a yummier biscuit. So, step away from the dough!

OK, so having said that, now let's step away from the butter, shortening and fermented milk while we're at it. Time to say buh bye to Betty. Here's a healthy, EASY, vegan biscuit recipe - it's way less fat, way less calories, way cheaper and way more cruelty-free. Now, to be fair, I did veganize my old buttermilk biscuit recipe by using soy butter and lemon-juice-fermented almond milk, and the results were still good. The same, really. But if you can get away with making the same biscuit without butter or shortening? This recipe uses whole-wheat flour and if you're looking to reduce the wheat in your life, substitute for brown rice flour. The soy-yogurt replaces the buttermilk. And the butter is just gone gone gone (and the pastry cutter!)

My kids gobble these up. We put soy butter, almond butter, soy yogurt, applesauce, honey, peanut butter, strawberry preserves, peaches, maple syrup...just about anything we can find...on top of these yummies. Give this recipe a try and see if your family doesn't say "Wow! You made these biscuits, from scratch?"






Yogurt Biscuits
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (or any mixture of flours you bake with)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup soy yogurt (plain)
1/4 cup non-dairy milk (hemp, almond, etc)
1/4 cup oil

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly flour a baking sheet. Combine the dry ingredients. In small separate bowl whisk together the wet ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture. Stir to form a sticky dough. Flour your hands and set the dough on a floured surface. Turn the dough over a few times in the flour until the dough is no longer sticky. But be very gentle with the dough! If you want to cut it circles, spread dough out to about 1/2 inch thick and cut into circles. Otherwise, just spread dough out to 1/2 inch and put on baking sheet. Lightly make cut marks along the top to separate the dough a bit. Bake for 12 minutes. Don't over bake! Better to let them come out early and finish baking on the pan than to overcook in the oven. The oven will dry biscuits out in a hurry.

*Optional: I've made biscuits with orange juice instead of milk so if you don't have any non-dairy milk on hand, use OJ instead. It'll give the biscuits a citrus taste! Yum! Also, I've experimented some with adding other flavors, such as 1 tsp molasses, or 2 tsp sugar of your choice, or 2 tsp maple syrup, or 1 tsp honey. Any of these will add a bit more flavor but aren't needed if you'll be topping them with something flavorful.

*This Yogurt Biscuit recipe comes from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook, by Nava Atlas. One of my favorite new vegan family cookbooks.

*And here's the link to the Kentucky Buttermilk Biscuit recipe I've been using for over a decade now. The only change I make is I don't use buttermilk (I use almond or hemp), I use whole wheat flour, and Earth Balance butter.

Enjoy!

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