Ethereal Cream Biscuits {gluten-free}

Our Saturday mornings are wonderfully the same around here: leisurely, relaxed. Well, except for getting up at 6:00 in the morning. Babies don’t seem to grasp the concept that weekends are made for sleeping in, but that’s quibbling, and certainly nothing multiple cups of coffee can’t fix. We lounge around in our pajamas, talking and sipping, while Cecil plays happily at our feet.

At some point the caffeine inevitably gets the better of us. Our cue to make breakfast.

Saturday’s breakfast is nothing short of a feast. Brown-butter fried eggs with runny yolks and sriracha. Thick, crispy bacon. Skillet potatoes. Whatever fresh fruit might be lying around. And of course something bread-y, like a dutch baby pancake or banana bread, but more often than not, we whip up these meltingly tender and crumbly-edged cream biscuits.

This is a quick, one-bowl endeavor. Whilst the oven preheats to a scorching 425 F, whisk together the dry ingredients, a mere two minutes of work, and then proceed to pour what feels like an obscene amount of heavy cream over the top. You might blush. I always do. Don’t fret.

Now, take a fork – any old fork will do – and incorporate the cream into the flour until it becomes a moist, crumbly mass. I like to pinch off a small wad of dough and give it a little squeeze in the palm of my hand. If it crumbles, a splash more cream is in order.

At this point you’ll want to haphazardly dust a relatively clean work surface with rice flour. I’ve grown fond of using my silpat for rolling out dough, its nonstick qualities makes things so much easier. Scrape the dough into a heap on your dusted surface, press it into a cohesive mound, give it a few good kneads, and then begin to roll it out, aiming for a 3/4″ thick rectangle.

Now, just cut your biscuits into whatever shape you prefer. Sometimes I use a biscuit cutter for the traditional round affect, but it is more convenient to simply cut the whole slab into squares, no re-rolling, no waste.

Grab a cookie sheet, preferably with a heavy bottom. If you don’t have one, a regular cookie sheet will work fine, just be sure to move your oven rack up to the top third of the oven; these cook quickly at high heat and the biscuit bottoms are prone to burn if not attended to.

The final step might feel like gilding the lily, what with all that cream, but never mind such thoughts, go ahead and brush your biscuits with a little melted butter and get them in the oven quick.

In 15 minutes you’ll have, arguably, some of the best homemade biscuits you’ve ever eaten.

CREAM BISCUITS

Inspired by Marion Cunningham’s version in The Breakfast Book.

A few words on my choice of gluten-free flours. Trial and error has resulted in the persnickety list of ingredients and ratios below. The whole-grain base of brown rice and sorghum flours for their hearty, well-rounded flavors, a generous amount of cornstarch for extreme lightness, and tapioca flour to encourage browning and that desirable crumbly exterior.

These biscuits freeze remarkably well. Flash freeze the raw biscuits on a cookie sheet and then place in a freezer bag for storage. To heat them up, follow the same instructions below, 15 minutes at 425 F.

Lastly, if you’re not in the mood for biscuits, this recipe easily transforms into scones. Simply increase the sugar to 1/4 cup and add 1/2 – 3/4 cup of your preferred medley of chopped, dried fruit to the dry mix (raisins, apricots, figs, etc.), continue with the recipe as written, but pat the dough into a circle 10″ round, brush with butter, sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of sugar and cut into 12 wedges. Bake as outlined below.

Dry Ingredients:
3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup sorghum flour (or more brown rice flour)
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 tablespoon gluten-free baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 scant teaspoon xanthan gum (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Wet Ingredients:
1 – 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
2 tablespoons melted butter, for brushing

  • Preheat oven to 425 F.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  • Pour 1 cup of cream over the dry mix, reserving the remaining 1/2 cup of cream. Using a fork, fold the cream into the dry mix. If you find the mix is still dry and crumbly, add a little more cream, stir, repeat if necessary. The flour mix should be just moistened, but not sodden.
  • Scrape the dough out onto a lightly rice-floured work surface. With your hands press the loose dough pieces together and knead a few times, sprinkle lightly with rice flour if things get too sticky. ¬†With a floured rolling-pin, roll the dough into a 3/4″ thick rectangle. Cut into 12 squares, place on a baking sheet 1/2″ apart.
  • Brush the tops with melted butter.
  • Bake 15 minutes until lightly browned

(Makes 12 biscuits)

Lemon Chia Seed Cake {gluten-free,vegan}

Lemon Chia Seed Bread {gluten-free, vegan}

I thought I’d share this new gluten-free, vegan quick bread I’ve been making a lot lately. Consider it a twist on the lemon poppy-seed sort. It swings a little more to the cake end of the spectrum than my other quick breads, but in a good way, with a light, springy texture and a tad extra sweetness. The lemon is subtle, just a teaspoon or so of zest. And chia seeds, while an excellent visual substitute for poppy seeds, play a structural role as an egg-replacer, too.

P1060822

A Super Seed
Here are a few cool facts: chia seeds boast more calcium ounce-for-ounce than a glass of milk (great news for the dairy-free!), are a concentrated source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and provide complete protein all on their own (Vegans? Vegetarians? That’s for you.). Poppy seeds are cool and all, but chia seeds win my vote any day for their super-food bragging rights.

To read more about this super-seed and its fascinating history, check out Sarah’s post at My New Roots.

I’ve mentioned already that chia seeds stand in for the binding power of eggs in this recipe, but it is sparkling water that makes up for eggs’ leavening abilities. I find I am using sparkling water more often in my baking to give these arguably heavy gluten-free flours some lift and lightness.

Lemon Chia Seed Bread {gluten-free, vegan}

Also, I like to dust the pan with sugar instead of flour, which creates a wonderfully crunchy sugar crust around the edges, especially at either end.

LEMON CHIA SEED CAKE

Dry Ingredients:
1-2 tablespoons white sugar (for dusting the pan)
2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest (about half of a lemon)

Wet Ingredients:
1 tablespoon chia seeds
3 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
3 tablespoons neutral/mild flavored oil like canola
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (about half of a lemon)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sparkling mineral water, like Perrier (sea level bakers may need closer to 3/4 cup)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 9×5 loaf pan and sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons of white sugar, turn the pan to coat, and tap to remove any excess sugar.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the chia seeds and hot water. Set aside for 10 minutes to thicken.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, beginning with the brown rice flour through the salt. Add the lemon zest to the mix with your fingers so as to break up any clumps of zest.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the coconut oil, canola oil, and turbinado sugar. Add the chia seed gel and mix to incorporate. Add the almond and vanilla extract, along with the lemon juice, mix until fully incorporated. Alternately, add the dry flour mix and sparkling mineral water until the batter is just blended.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 45-50 minutes until the center is set and a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean. Allow bread to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Then remove from pan and allow to cool fully on a rack.