Gluten free angel biscuits, made with both baking powder and yeast, rise high in the oven with layer upon layer of flaky goodness.
If you've ever had trouble making biscuits (or, to be honest, even if you haven't), then this is the pastry recipe for you. With baking powder, baking soda, and some yeast, these biscuits rise like angels.
Tender, light and flaky angel biscuits, with a bit of extra flavor from the yeast development—not to mention biscuit-rising insurance. Do you hear them singing? ?
These biscuits take a bit more time than, say, the easiest of all biscuits but not necessarily the most rewarding, drop biscuits. And they freeze beautifully after baking, but not before since they're yeasted.
But the flavor development and lightness of the layers are unequaled. Let me at least make my case…
How to make pastry that needs cold with yeast that needs to rise?
Yeast, once hydrated, needs at least some warmth to be active. Pastry like biscuits needs cold fat (like butter) to expand in the oven. How can we do both?
Pastry is about architecture as much as it is chemistry. The pieces of cold butter, surrounded by flour, expand when they hit the warmth of the oven and push out the flour all around. But then how is the yeast supposed to proof?
The answer lies in a slightly different recipe ratio (a bit less butter), handling the dough as you would expect, then allow rising in warmth followed by a shock of cold.
Cold, then warm, then cold again
First, handle the dough like you would any pastry with cold ingredients and a light touch. You don't want the cold butter to melt in your hands, and you want to layer it in between pieces of flour, just like we always do with flaky biscuits.
Since these biscuits are made by folding the dough repeatedly as we do with any layered pastry, you'll begin to see the layers separating from one another before the pastry dough even goes into the oven.
Set the dough to rise in our usual warm, draft-free location, but we've used a bit less butter. That helps keep the dough together during the rise, without leaking at all.
Then, right before it goes in the oven (after proofing), we shock it in the freezer. Keep that in mind when selecting the size baking pan you'll use, and use multiple pans if necessary so they can fit in your freezer.
Ingredients and substitutions
The flour blend: In place of the combination of a well-balanced all purpose gluten free flour like Better Batter, along with nonfat dry milk and cornstarch, you can use 2 1/2 cups (350 g) Cup4Cup gluten free flour, or my mock Cup4Cup blend. Cup4Cup is a perfect pastry flour, and we are mimicking it here by adding milk powder and cornstarch.
Dairy: The dairy in these gluten free angel biscuits comes from buttermilk, butter, and from nonfat dry milk. I've successfully replaced them both in this recipe, which is good news if you're avoiding dairy.
In place of buttermilk, I recommend using half (4 fluid ounces) plain nondairy yogurt and half (4 fluid ounces) unsweetened nondairy milk, like almond milk. I don't recommend simply adding some vinegar or lemon juice to almond milk, as it won't produce a truly thickened buttermilk substitute.
In place of butter, I highly recommend Melt or Miyoko's Kitchen brand vegan butter. The biscuits will not brown quite as well in the oven, and the edges won't be exactly as clean but they'll have great taste and texture.
In place of nonfat dry milk, you can use coconut dry milk. I really like Native Forest brand dairy free and vegan coconut milk powder, and I find it at most larger grocery stores today.
Cornstarch: In place of cornstarch, you can use arrowroot powder or even potato starch.
Gluten Free Angel Biscuits
2 cups (280 g) all-purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter*), plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons (42 g) nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 cup (36 g) cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons (24 g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons (6 g) instant yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, grated or diced and chilled
1 cup (8 fluid ounces) buttermilk, chilled
*In place of the mock Better Batter + nonfat dry milk + cornstarch, you can use 2 1/2 cups (350 g) Cup4Cup gluten free flour, or my mock Cup4Cup blend.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, nonfat dry milk, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and yeast, and whisk to combine well. Add the salt, and whisk again to combine. Add the grated or chopped and chilled butter, and toss to coat it in the dry ingredients. Flatten each piece or clump of butter with the back of the mixing spoon. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk, and mix until the dough begins to come together. If necessary, press together with floured hands, handling it as little as possible.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured piece of unbleached parchment paper and press into a disk. Roll out the dough into a rectangle that is about 1/2 inch thick, moving the dough frequently and sprinkling lightly with flour to prevent sticking. Fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter, and then fold the side thirds of the rectangle into the center to form a square. Sprinkle the dough again lightly with flour, and roll out the dough once again into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Repeat the process one more time for the flakiest biscuits. Sprinkle the dough again lightly with flour, replace the parchment paper and roll out the dough, but this time into a disk about 1/2 inch thick. Using a floured 2 to 2 1/2-inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out rounds of dough. Place the rounds about 2 inches apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet. Gather and reroll the scraps, cut out as many more round of dough as possible, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with an oiled piece of plastic wrap, and place in a warm, draft-free location until nearly doubled in size (about 1 hour). Place the covered baking sheet in the freezer until firm (about 15 minutes). Preheat your oven to 375°F while the biscuits are chilling.
Remove the baking sheet from the freezer, remove the plastic wrap, and place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven. Bake until the biscuits are puffed, very fragrant and lightly golden brown around the edges (about 12 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow the biscuits to cool briefly on the baking sheet before serving warm.
I do not recommend freezing the raw dough, since freezing yeasted dough can sometimes kill the hydrated but unbaked yeast. But the finished biscuits, once cooled, freeze and reheat beautifully.
Originally published on the blog in 2014. Method tweaked only slightly; recipe unchanged. A few photos and video new.
simon andrew says
Thanks, Nicole! You are so very helpful!
Nicole, these look great and we would love to try them. I’m just a little confused on how to incorporate you’re given substitutions with what I need to do on my end. I first need to make your mock cup for cup blend. I always make m own because we need to go organic…especially with rice flours. I would like to use your suggested substitutes to keep this milk and corn free as well. We do eat butter so I will use that but I need to use full fat goat yogurt/almond milk as well as the coconut milk powder sub. I have coconut yogurt if you think that would work better but I felt goat yogurt would more imitate cow yogurt and it’s fat content.
So…you have two links for flour blends in this post. One for your mock cup for cup and one for an all purpose blend. Due to ingredients on hand I will be making the mock cup for cup. Can the substitutions you listed be used to make that blend and then used again in the recipe? I’m speaking to the non-fat milk and corn starch and a mock cup for cup recipe. I hope I making sense! Thanks for your well written and always beautifully photographed recipes and especially your videos! I’m so excited when I see you in my inbox for any reason!
Nicole Hunn says
Thank you for the kind words, Holly! And yes, you’re understanding everything correctly. If you are making the mock Cup4Cup blend, and then using it to make these biscuits, then you’ll use it for the 3 ingredients (all purpose flour + milk powder + cornstarch), so approximately 2 1/2 cups of mock Cup4Cup (technically, around 2 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon, or precisely 358 grams mock Cup4Cup).
Do you give GF bread backing classes in IK?
Nicole Hunn says
Hi, Suad, I’m afraid I don’t give in-person baking classes, but I have online baking classes, including one for bread-baking. You can find them on my training website, Nicolehunn.com. I run specials about once a year on the course prices, though, and you’ll learn about that if you sign up for my email list here.
I think I’m in LOVE <3
These look like they would go perfectly with the ham I bought for Easter! Yum! Have to tell you that I finally made the GF flour tortillas from GFOASBB and they were sooooo good! I do not have the “rolling out” gene, so they were not pretty, but my husband made noises when he was eating them. He never does that! And he was planning all the things that would taste good on top of them. Again, not him. So, thank you for another amazing recipe! They were even frozen and reheated, so made our tacos from last night super quick and easy. Will add those to my weekly list of bread to make:)
Sandy Rusher says
I love Angel Biscuits. I have a youth group member with CD and always looking for recipes I can use for her. We have store bought gluten free all purpose flour. I read through the comments and did not see this question. With the all purpose flour do I still need to use the powdered milk and cornstarch? I don’t mind using them just don’t want to waste a batch. Blessings,Sandy
Nicole Hunn says
Hi, Sandy, the nonfat dry milk and the cornstarch are separate ingredients. They are not replaced by the all purpose gluten free flour.
Sonya Parker says
Hi Nicole, i’ve searched for a nondairy coconut milk but for some reason they add milk proteins to it. I have a severe milk protein allergy so I look out for that. I ended up using rice milk powder or soy milk powder. In making biscuits from your first/second(?) book, can’t quite remember which I have all three, I subbed Earth Balance for the butter. I ended up using my 5lbs of Better Batter for biscuits because my 17yr old told me I had to make enough to last him for 2 weeks. The freezer is an awesome friend….
Hi, first I do indeed have your books, plus follow your site as well as on FB. LOVE all the info you provide. Finally
I read through all the comments and did not find whether these will freeze well AFTER being baked.
Nicole Hunn says
I love your “first,” watchingnow! Much appreciated. And that you read through the comments before asking your question! Finally—yes! They freeze really well after being baked. :)
Nicole Hunn says
Cheryl, these are Angel Biscuits, which contain both chemical leaveners (like baking powder and baking soda) and yeast. And you can store yeast in the freezer before it is activated in dough. Afterward, it can, indeed, kill the yeast. It doesn’t usually, but it can. That is why I do not recommend it. I have a number of other pastry recipes on the blog and in my books that describe how to get light and flaky pastry by using cold ingredients and layering the fat with the flour well.
I adore angel biscuits and it’s one of those things I’ve had in the back of my mind to convert to GF “someday.” Now I don’t have to wait till I get around to it. Thank you!
Thanks, Nicole! You are so very helpful! I think I have it all figured out now! I have both your books on my Kindle and am slowly cooking through them — enjoying baking again!
WOW! You’ve done it again girl! Angel Biscuits have been a favorite of mine for many years…Did you hear me thinking about them recently????? I used to make up a 5 cup of flour batch. I would bake a few and leave the remainder in a bowl in the fridge for a few days so I could have half a dozen hot biscuits whenever I wanted them. They are soooooo good and everyone seems to enjoy them and find them a little special (is it a biscuit or a bun?). You just keep Rockin’ Lady!
Saw a non-gluten free recipe today for Sticky Lemon Rolls with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze…like a cinnamon bun with lemon and nutmeg instead of cinamon…..any thought to tackling something like that?
Ohmygosh- lemon cinnamon rolls sound awesome!
Nicole Hunn says
So true, Lorna. Angel biscuits are sort of a cross between a biscuit and a bun. Love ’em!
Those sticky lemon rolls sound fabulous. You could definitely use the recipe in my bread cookbook, Bakes Bread, for cinnamon sticky buns and add some lemon juice and/or zest to the glaze!
Nicole Hunn says
As I explain the post, S. Harris, pastry needs to be cold for the butter to expand when it hits the heat of the oven, so it fluffs out the flour around it.
S. Harris says
Ah yes, I see. Well I guess I better make some room in my freezer because these look super tasty. I’m always on the lookout for a tasty GF biscuit!
Beautiful, are these similar to KFC biscuits? My eldest has CD and she loved them… my youngest daughter is always asking for them and we sneak the odd one for her to enjoy, with a heavy heart knowing that Amanda can’t enjoy them anymore. I will be making these for Easter! Thank you
Nicole Hunn says
Not really, Lucy. Those are more cakey, less flaky, I’d say. These are flaky, more like traditional biscuits.
Okay…..we’re having Easter dinner after the evening service — could I put these into the refrigerator after the rise for the approximately 2 hours we’ll be gone instead of the freezer and then bake when we get home — will that kill the yeast?
John Lachett says
Aaand just like that….Sunday dinner solved! Thank you Nicole!!!!