Being from the South, biscuits are just a given for special occasions. I say special occasions because the reality is that I do not make biscuits every day. But they sure do call a hungry crowd to just about any meal. Biscuits, and in particular gluten free ones, are an art form as well as a tasty companion to a mouthwatering meal. But, biscuits are also fickle sometimes. Too much flour and they can quickly go from delicious to dry. The solution to that is more of a technique than a secret. Sure, at first it seems like a secret, but really, it’s all about the technique you use for your particular biscuit recipe.
Flaky and buttery, fluffy and moist, these are all terms bakers and foodies use to describe their ideal biscuit. But can a gluten free biscuit also have these qualities? Absolutely yes. It just takes a bit of trial and experimentation with flours to get the perfect gluten free biscuit to compliment your meal.
These “secrets” that I’m revealing are not so much secrets as lessons. There are things to do and things not to do. But they are all little techniques to help your gluten free biscuits rise to the occasion.
Secret # 1
The type of flour you use determines the outcome of your finished product. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Well this is vitally important for baking gluten free. For example, if you want fluffy, white biscuits, as opposed to a brownish color, use superfine white rice flour. Brown rice flour can also be used, but they will have a hint of brown. Coconut flour lends a great taste to biscuits, but may be a little too sweet for a dinner meal.
Secret # 2
The gums that gluten free baking usually require are not always necessary in biscuit recipes. Often, your biscuits will turn out just spectacular with a combination of some baking powder and salt mixed with gluten free four and starch. This may not be the case for every recipe, but for a general rule of thumb, xanthan gum and guar gum can often be omitted.
Secret # 3
The type of fat you use can make a world of difference in your biscuits. This is regarding taste, and even texture sometimes. Butter is going to result in a buttery, almost sweet taste in your biscuits. Shortening can also be used – it’s going to lend more height to your biscuits and they may also be softer. Shortening is flavorless so the end result will taste a bit different than your butter counterparts. The final verdict between the two is if the recipe calls for butter or margarine, use the butter option. If the recipe calls for any type of fat (as in, it gives you options), choose the one that will compliment the rest of the meal best.
Secret # 4
You don’t have to make drop biscuits. This is a little secret I discovered while multi-tasking. Just because the recipe is directing you to drop the biscuits on the cookie sheet doesn’t mean you have to. Instead, if you prefer round, cookie-cutter biscuits, make those instead. The secret is that because gluten free biscuit dough will be quite sticky, you’ll have to do some creative positioning. Take a piece of plastic wrap and dust a little flour on it. Lay your biscuit dough on it and cover it with another piece of plastic wrap. (You might need a little more flour). Gently roll out the dough to a nice thickness – about ½ inch or so. Use a floured cookie cutter to cut out your biscuits. Slide a metal spatula underneath the dough and place your biscuits on the baking sheet. A nice, easy way to get beautiful round biscuits!
Secret # 5
Placing the biscuits close to each other helps them rise higher. However, in most biscuit recipes, not just the gluten free ones, the directions state to place the biscuits 2 inches a part to bake. Well, if you want to see some nicely risen biscuits, try placing them closer to each other. Allow them some space, but if you try for about ½ inch apart, they will be able to grab onto the other biscuits, thus baking up sky high and light.
Whether you like light and fluffy or tall and flaky biscuits, your gluten free baking adventures just got even more interesting with these secrets to yummy biscuits. The great thing about biscuits is that adding cheese or herbs can take a basic, plain biscuit and transform it into a savory gluten free bread worthy of serving to guests. Or add in some cinnamon and serve them with honey butter and you have a delightfully delicious breakfast treat.
Enjoy your biscuits!
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