On Sunday afternoon, after several hours of intense yard work, I staggered into the kitchen, low blood sugar and ravenous, and there was only one I wanted to eat. Biscuits. Specifically, I wanted biscuits which were crunchy on the bottom but pillowy-soft and flaky inside; biscuits which would hold up under a layer of almond milk gravy, but would be just as good as is, straight out of the oven.
In under an hour, I was blissed out on the couch, freshly showered and savoring the biscuit of my dream.
How did I get there? If you’ve read the title of this post, you already know how I got that crunchy layer: I baked my biscuits in a pre-heated cast iron skillet.
makes 8 biscuits
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegan shortening
1 cup vegan milk
juice of 1/2 medium-sized lemon
optional: vegan margarine and agave nectar
Preheat oven to 350. Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium-low heat on the stove and add 1 teaspoon of shortening to skillet to melt. As it starts to melt, give the skillet a little swirl so that the shortening covers the entire bottom surface. Reduce heat to low.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt. Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender or a fork or two knives, whichever method you like. This doesn’t need to be a crumb; I just do it enough to break the shortening into the flour and evenly distribute.
In a bowl, mix lemon juice into your vegan milk. Then add this mixture to your dry ingredients and stir to incorporate.
Flour your surface liberally and dump the biscuit dough out on it. If your dough is tacky at all, sprinkle it generously with flour.
Flour your hands generously, too, and get your hands in there to start folding. Form the dough into a rectangle; fold in half; flatten out to a rectangle; fold in half again; repeat many times. If dough gets tacky, add more flour. No big whoop. If you’ve never done this before, it’s a lot easier than it sounds. Here is a video of me doing it:
So yeah, after you’ve done that a bunch—I usually do it about 20 times—flatten out to a rectangly shape and then get a drinking glass, dip it in flour, and cut out your biscuits and transfer them to the warm skillet.
Right here is where the eagle-eyed biscuit maker is going to zero in to see if I include a little biscuit secret, and I will, because I’m not one to keep culinary secrets to myself: As much as possible, don’t “wiggle” the glass around, just push it straight down and through the dough. A lot of biscuit pros feel like this is the key to flaky biscuits, so I do it!
With the leftover dough, form a rectangly shape again, do the foldovers a few more times, and then cut some more biscuits. Repeat until all the dough is gone.
Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from oven and place a small dab of margarine on the top of each biscuit, and then drizzle a tiny amount of agave nectar over each biscuit.
Return to the oven and bake for 10 more minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for about five minutes before eating.
Check out this beautiful crunchy bottom! Thanks, cast iron skillet!