I’m thinking that we might want to make some gluten free angel biscuits for Easter this Sunday. It seems … almost like a religious experience. 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, they rise like angels. Get it?
The temperature situation did pose a bit of a cognitive dissonance in my mind, to be honest. I mean, yeast likes warm, and pastry (like biscuits) needs cold fat (like butter) to expand in the oven. Pastry is really all about architecture as much as it is chemistry. The big chunks of cold butter, surrounded by flour, expand when they hit the warmth of the oven and push out the flour all around. Puff! But then how is the yeast supposed to proof??
I’ll tell you how, sister (brother?).
You handle the dough like you would any pastry (cold ingredients, light touch). Then we 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. Then, right before it goes in the oven (after proofing), we shock it in the freezer! The result? See for yourself…
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?
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
7 tablespoons (42 g) nonfat dry milk (blended into a fine powder)
4 tablespoons (36 g) cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons (24 g) sugar
2 teaspoons (6 g) instant yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, roughly chopped (about 1/2-inch dice will work) 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.
Preheat your oven to 375°F. 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 chopped and chilled butter, and toss to coat it in the dry ingredients. Flatten each chunk of butter between your thumb and forefinger. 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. Place another piece of unbleached parchment paper on top of the dough, and roll out into a rectangle that is about 1 inch thick. Remove the top piece of parchment paper, sprinkle lightly with flour, and fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter. Sprinkle the dough again lightly with flour, replace the parchment paper and roll out the dough once again into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Once more, remove the top piece of parchment paper, sprinkle lightly with flour, and fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter. 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. Peel back the top piece of parchment paper, and, using a floured 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).
Remove the baking sheet from the freezer place it 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.