Made without any butter, these gluten free cream biscuits are still crisp outside and fluffy inside. Drop biscuits ready in 20 minutes flat!
If you're hungry for an alternative to rice or gluten free pasta for dinnertime, and don't want to plan ahead, these cream biscuits are your last-minute solution. They're tender, light, and fluffy, and make any meal just a little more special.
What makes cream biscuits different?
Cream biscuits are no-butter baking powder biscuits made with heavy whipping cream. Since butter is made from cream, think of these as a single step removed from traditional gluten free biscuit pastry.
The way butter works in pastry making is by layering cold pieces of it throughout the dry ingredients (mostly flour) that expand when they hit the heat of the oven. That's what creates pastry's prized flakiness.
Since the heavy whipping cream takes the place of both butter and buttermilk that you'd find in traditional biscuits, you might expect these biscuits not to be particularly tender. But there's plenty of butterfat in the cream (along with the liquid that's mostly absent in butter itself) to keep these tender and moist.
Does ingredient temperature matter?
Typically, when baking pastry, the ingredients must be cold so that the fat stays in a solid state. Think of the ultimate pastry, like our gluten free puff pastry, as a miracle of architecture. The preparation is all about the physical layers of mostly solid butter and pastry layers.
These cream biscuits are more like the dumplings you make in our gluten free chicken and dumplings. Their lift comes from baking powder, and the added egg that I think makes these biscuits better in every way. (If you're egg free, scroll down for how to replace it).
Since their lift doesn't come from cold pockets of butter, the temperature of the ingredients doesn't seem to matter very much in this recipe. For the easiest process, I recommend using the cream right out of the refrigerator, beating it with the egg, then mixing it into the dry ingredients.
There's no need to chill the dough after you scoop it onto the baking sheets. Pop them right into the oven and bake.
Ingredients and substitutions
Although this recipe doesn't call for butter, it does call for heavy whipping cream. Since the cream is one of two major ingredients in these biscuits, you will create a much different biscuit if you replace it. But that doesn't mean you can't try.
If you would like to make these biscuits dairy-free, I recommend trying canned full-fat coconut milk. Be sure to fully integrate the cream part into the liquid part of the canned cream by shaking or whisking it.
If you're lucky enough to get your hands on the Silk brand dairy-free heavy whipping cream substitute, try that. I bet it would work great.
Typically, cream biscuits don't contain eggs. I've made these biscuits without the egg, and I find that they are missing the richness of the egg yolk and the lift from the egg white. The egg in the mixture also helps hold the biscuits together and creates a better mouth feel.
If you can't have (or just don't have) eggs, you can leave it out. You'll need to add more heavy whipping cream by the tablespoon until the dry ingredients are all moistened and the texture looks comparable to that in the photos and video. The biscuits won't brown quite as much and tend to collapse a bit as they cool.
If you're looking to make drop biscuits but without any egg, we have another recipe that will suit you well. Our traditional gluten free drop biscuits are worth your time.
Cornstarch & flour blend
In place of cornstarch, you can try using arrowroot or even tapioca starch/flour. If you're using a higher starch blend than Better Batter or my mock Better Batter, like Cup4Cup or my mock Cup4Cup blend, instead of the cornstarch, just use an additional 1/4 cup (36 g) of the flour blend.
If you have run out of all purpose gluten free flour but have some basic component flours like superfine white rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch/flour, you can try making these biscuits with my gum-free gluten free flour blend. Be sure to add xanthan gum as directed in the recipe.
Gluten Free Cream Biscuits
1 3/4 cups (245 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1/4 cup (36 g) cornstarch
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups (10 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream, plus more for brushing
1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to combine. Set the dry ingredients aside. Place the cream and egg in a separate container (a measuring cup works great) and whisk to combine well. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the cream and egg mixture, and mix until just combined. The biscuit dough will be very thick and rather lumpy, and may become difficult to stir. Mix until just combined.
Scoop the dough into large mounds, about 3 heaping tablespoons each, and place on the prepared baking sheet about 1 1/2-inches apart from one another. Brush the tops and sides of the mounds with a bit more cream to help the biscuits brown in the oven.
Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the outsides are beginning to brown and the tops spring back when pressed lightly in the center. Remove from the oven and allow to cool briefly before serving warm.