You simply can’t have a proper gluten free Mother’s Day brunch (or any brunch for that matter) without at least one type of light and flaky gluten free biscuit. These gluten free cinnamon sugar biscuits not only satisfy your brunch-biscuit requirement, but they also serve another very important purpose: when served at just the right moment, they’ll convince that one last relative that yes, in fact, gluten free should taste great. Not only can we make pastry, but we can make it beautiful, too. We’re just like you!
The real secret to making flaky pastry is a simple one: For the love of Mike, don’t cut in your butter until it’s the “size of small peas.” When you do that, as many, many recipes still advise, you’ll end up melting the butter as you work with the dough. Begin instead, as directed in this recipe, with large, cold chunks of butter. That way, as you work with the dough, even if the butter melts a bit, it will firm right back up when you chill the biscuits before baking. Then, fold and layer the dough over on itself to create and multiply layers of cold butter and flour. When the cold butter hits the heat of the oven, it expands and pushes out the flour all around it, which means flaky pastry. This time, though, to make cinnamon sugar biscuits without adding any greasiness or weight, we brush the rolled out dough lightly with cold water and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar in between the folds. Genius!
The delicate cinnamon-sugar stripes all the way through each biscuit along with the caramelized sugar on top of each make for a simply gorgeous presentation. How easy it is to make these beautiful pastries is just a bonus!
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
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, cut into large chunks and chilled
1 cup (8 fluid ounces) milk (any kind, just not nonfat), 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.
For the Cinnamon Sugar Cold water, for brushing
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
Make the biscuit dough. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, nonfat dry milk, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and\ salt, and whisk to combine well. 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 milk, then mix until the dough begins to come together. If necessary, press together with floured hands, handling it as little as possible.
Shape and fill the dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured piece of unbleached parchment paper and press into a disk. Dust lightly with more flour, and roll out into a rectangle that is about 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle lightly with flour, and fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter. Sprinkle the dough again lightly with flour, and roll out the dough once again into a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Brush the top surface of the dough sparingly but completely with the cold water. Place the sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium-size bowl and mix to combine well. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the dough in an even layer and pat gently to help it adhere to the dough. Fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter. Sprinkle the dough again lightly with flour and roll out the dough once more into a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Again, brush the top surface of the dough sparingly but completely with the cold water, then sprinkle evenly with about 1/2 of the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture and pat gently to help it adhere to the dough. One final time, fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter, and then again in thirds to create a thick square of dough. Sprinkle the dough again lightly with flour and roll again into a disk about 1/2 inch thick. 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. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until firm (about 15 minutes).
Remove the chilled biscuits from the freezer, brush the tops very lightly with more cold water and sprinkle the tops with the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until puffed, very fragrant and lightly golden brown all over (15 to 18 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow the biscuits to cool briefly on the baking sheet before serving.