Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Quick is Good

Hello Gentle Reader.

After weeks without blogging, I realize I've come to an impasse - and a solution. The former is a direct result of the rapid and thrilling growth of my business, Luce's Gluten-Free Artisan Bread. Working 6 - 7 days a week, I rarely have time to sit at the computer and write. However, as part of my communication with customers, I do send out weekly e-newsletters. Thus my solution: A slightly altered version of the e-newsletter, delayed a week or two and then posted here.

(Interested in first-read-rights? Sign up for my newsletter by clicking HERE and scrolling to the bottom of the home page. BTW the newsletter will have special offers that won't be repeated here.)
 Enjoy the post!

 Biscuit Love - Love Biscuits

I’ve always loved biscuits. One of the challenges of Celiac Disease is having to walk away from big trays of them whenever Leslie and I visit the Ohio restaurant chain, Bob Evans. Luckily, I’ve learned to make them from one of my flour blends - Classic Sourdough.

Biscuits can be made in an almost endless variety of ways: coarse-crumb or flaky, sweet, savory, laced with corn meal, shortened with butter or coconut or bacon fat or lard. I like them sweet for strawberry shortcake; full of mushrooms and corn flour for hors d'ouvres;  sour and puffy for sandwiches.

In addition to being very tasty, biscuits have the advantage of being quick and easy to make. If we have drop-in guests or I forget to bake bread for a day, no problem. Dessert can be ready in under an hour as long as the guests like shortcake. And biscuits are as good as bread for many a meal.

There's one more thing: They can be made in small quantities. That's great if your household, like mine, consists of just two people with small appetites.

The recipe below will yield about nine, 1-1/4" diameter sweet biscuits, perfect for dessert for four (with one left over for the cook to eat while waiting for the strawberries to thaw) and easily doubled. Of course you can make them larger. King Arthur Flour makes a honeycomb biscuit cutter that will help, if larger and easier is your goal. I've provided notes for making them savory, in case dessert is not on your agenda. Before you start, I'd suggest purchasing my Classic Sourdough bread mix in the Just Flour configuration and an order of Just Support Sheets. Also note that you will need some extra ingredients.


Sweet Biscuits
Yield: 9 small biscuits

1/2 cup (75 grams/ 2.6 Oz.) Luce's Gluten-Free Artisan Bread Classic Sourdough flour mix
1 TBLS (12 grams/0.4 Oz.) Cornstarch
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
2 TBLS (25 grams/0.9 Oz.) unsalted butter, very cold
1/3 cup + 1 tsp (75 grams/2.6 Oz.) buttermilk
White rice flour, sorghum flour or corn meal for dusting

Other equipment:
Medium bowl. Stirring spoon. Shortening "cutter" or wire whisk. Cookie sheet (disposable is fine). 1 1/4" cylindrical cookie cutter.

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place a cookie sheet on the middle rack.

Dust a countertop or (better) chilled work surface with the dusting flour.
In the medium bowl, mix flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Stir to blend well. Chop the butter into little chunks - each about the size of a Lima bean - and scatter these in the flour. Using the whisk or cutter, cut the shortening into the flour until the mix is very coarse, like fine gravel.
Add buttermilk to the flour and stir until the dough just comes together. Turn out onto dusted work surface. Sprinkle dusting flour on dough and pat dough into a layer about 1" thick. Dip the cookie cutter into rice flour and use it to cut cylinders of dough, arranging these on a sheet of parchment (support sheet) with at least 1" of space around each cylinder. Gently pat leftover dough together and cut additional cylinders. The last piece of dough may be formed into a simple ball.
Bake for 15 minutes or until biscuits are flecked with golden brown.
Cool on a rack, but serve while slightly warm.

Eliminate sugar to create a savory biscuit.
Eliminate soda and sugar to create a sourdough biscuit.
Double sugar for sweeter biscuits.
Substitute cornstarch with cornmeal for a crunchier, heartier treat.
Use coconut oil, bacon drippings or lard instead of butter.
Drip some truffle oil onto the butter before cutting it in.
Use Vegan shortening instead of butter.
Chill the flour before beginning and handle dough like puff pastry dough to produce flakier biscuits. 


"Pig Ears" - sourdough biscuits with braunschweiger and mustard.

Haitian - sweet biscuits with home-made Confiture de Chadéque

Midwestern - with honey

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