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.