Wednesday, June 13, 2012

gluten-free biscuits

a few months ago, jeff and i saw a new naturopath for some general health and wellness advise. no surprise she cautioned us both to try cutting out dairy and gluten for a while to see if it made each of use feel better. i was totally prepared for that to be her advise, but not all prepared to actually even attempt to live without those things. as a predominately vegetarian home, giving up dairy and gluten would leave us with... well, vegetables, and honestly, i pretty much live off bread and cheese. fast forward a few months and it is quite apparent that both diary and gluten are taking their tolls on the both of us. it has honestly been like simply VERBALIZING that their COULD be a problem made the problem fully surface (or perhaps just more noticeable and acknowledged). whatever the reason, we have both been doing our fair share of avoidance for the last little bit.

yesterday i was kindly taken out for lunch by my coworkers to celebrate my last few days of full-time employment. we went to such an amazing restaurant here in calgary called blue star diner - one of my all time favs! such a rad little spot with a dedication to local farmers and producers and many (MANY) vegan and gluten free-options- just up my alley! i had an incredible burger and opted to try their gluten-free bun. i was a touch nervous as i had overheard the waitress saying that the gluten-free buns were really good for gluten-free, but- they were not as good as their 'real' buns. the bun that showed up on my plate was surprisingly perfection! buttery and moist, delicious and wonderful- the perfect cover for the patty and condiments buried inside. needless to say, i came home tonight eager and excited to try my hand at my first gluten free baking experience, and i must say, i was again happily surprised. (sidenote: blue star diner gets their GF buns from a somewhat new bakery here in town called big star bake house - 100% gluten free baking!)

tonight i tackled some amazing biscuits. i first came across this recipe while we were visiting jeff's parents in new brunswick this past winter and instantly feel in love. it's from one of my most favourite blogs, cher stuff, and honestly - EVERY SINGLE RECIPE cheri posts is beyond perfect! i would go as far as to say they are mind blowing! i regularly go back to MANY of the recipes i first discovered on her blog and totally love her descriptions and thoughtful directions that accompany each post. her photographs and sweet anecdotes are beautiful too. long story short (well, not really i guess - this is a pretty long post) these biscuits are a definitely crowd pleaser! (and they don't have to be gluten-free)

Biscuits (via Cher Stuff Blog)

2 cups flour of your choosing *
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup milk

whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. using a pastry blender cut the slightly soft butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (note: i also recently read you can freeze your butter and then grate with a cheese grater into the flour mixture - i have never tried this method, but have heard it works wonders!) pour the cold milk over the flour/butter mixture and using a fork quickly blend until most of the flour is incorporated. don't over-mix!

lightly dust a board or counter with flour and turn the dough out onto it. using your hands press the dough out until it is about 3/4" thick. i use a glass to cut the rounds for the biscuits but you can use anything that strikes your fancy. place the cut out biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet. gather the remaining dough together (without over working), press out again and cut out more rounds. continue until you have used all the dough - when I cut mine out using a glass that is about 2" in diameter i usually get about a dozen biscuits. if you want to skip the re-rolling process you can just cut the dough into rough squares using a knife and transfer those to the baking sheet. just another look and a tiny bit faster.

bake at 425 F for 9 minutes or until just beginning to brown (note: i like mine a little more golden, so ended up cooking for about 12 minutes). cool on a wire rack or better yet - eat while hot, slathered with honey-butter or butter and home-made jam.

*I used a commercially packaged organic gluten-free baking mix i bought at a local health food store. i was generally happy with it, however next time around i will definitely tackle making my own gluten-free flour mix as a small bag of this stuff was quite pricey and it was a touch on the chalky side. (Cheri has a wonderful recipe for GF flour mix in her website HERE)

tips for a gluten-free version:
the nice thing about using the gluten-free flour is that the caution to avoid over-mixing really doesn't apply. since there is no gluten the biscuits stay nice and light instead of becoming tough, which is the problem with over-mixing as it develops the gluten. watch the baking time - for the gluten-free version. 7 or 8 minutes was closer to correct. (again, me with the more well cooked thing, i baked for about 11 minutes.)