March 13, 2012

Buttery Biscuits for Brunch

I have this friend Abbe and she’s amazeballs. I met Abbe through the wonderful world of running (surprise, surprise!) and in the year that I’ve known her, she’s become one of my most favoritist people. I am so freaking lucky to consider her a true friend!

Aside from being beautiful, strong and generally fabulous, Abbe is also an amazing chef. Seriously, the girl can cook. And she cooks for me often, whipping up fantastic gluten free pasta dishes (check out here recipes here!) that often inspire me to go home and try them out myself. Although they’re never the same; somehow Abbe gets the flavors just right. Must be culinary school or something. Or when I’m having a crappy day and need some tender loving care, she invites me over for Chocolate Martinis and an impromptu Michael Jackson dance party. Nothing like a good dance party to put a smile on my face.

The other day, I decided I wanted to treat Abbe to something yummy. I mean, the girl is always cooking for other folks so someone should cook for her, right? And cooking for a chef is no big deal, right? Um, yeah, sure. So, I shot Abbe an email suggesting a short Sunday run followed by brunch at my place. I think her response was something like “YES”. Abbe likes to scream at me in capitals. I quickly decided that I wanted to make biscuits, having drooled over them at Bubby’s in Tribeca last weekend, and started researching recipes. I found this one, that looked easy enough, and decided I would substitute the all-purpose flour with the gluten free mixture from the amazing Gluten Free Artisanal Cooking cookbook and take it from there. I then built the rest of the brunch menu around the buttermilk biscuits: crème fraiche, smoked salmon, some sort of jam, breakfast potatoes, fresh fruit, and freshly squeezed orange juice (mimosas?!?). Hello YUMMY!
Brunch! Mimosas with freshly squeeze orange juice? YES PLEASE!
When Saturday came around, I realized that I probably wouldn’t have time to run with Abbe and then prepare brunch so I suggested she just run over and have brunch the following morning. I would run my 8 miles later. And then I set to preparing for Sunday’s brunch. The pressure of baking for a chef… where do I begin? Last time I made biscuits, they were a bit dense (the words “hockey pucks” come to mind) and I wanted these to be light and flakey. So I dug deep in my brain for what I learned in Food Science when I was studying nutrition at NYU, and remembered that the key to flakey baked goods is very cold butter. Small bits of cold butter within the dough, melt and create steam which create pockets of air in the pastry. The goal is to incorporate butter into your flour, without it melting until it’s in the oven. So, I did everything in my power to keep my butter cold! I placed the butter in the freezer the night before, and kept all my other ingredients & tools, including mixing bowls and grater, in my refrigerator. And it worked! Although my biscuits didn’t rise as much as I wanted them to, perhaps because of the lack of gluten to build a structure, they were light and fluffy and Abbe gave them her approval!
FLAKEY buttery buttermilk biscuits! The frozen butter did it's magic! With a dollop of creme fraiche & smoked salmon :)
These biscuits are a great base and I can’t wait to make them again. Next time, I might add some fresh herbs or cheese, or maybe both, to kick em up a bit. But this time, they were absolutely perfect with just a bit of apple honey butter and crème fraiche. And now for the recipe…

Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits
adapted from Completely Delicious
makes 8-10 large biscuits

2 cups Gluten Free Flour Mix (I used this mix)
2 teaspoon Gluten Free Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Coarse Salt
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, frozen
¾ to 1 cup Buttermilk, chilled, plus additional for brushing

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using the large holes on a grater, grate your frozen butter into the flour as quickly as possible so that it doesn’t melt. Toss together so that the butter pieces are covered in flour. Add ¾ cup of buttermilk and stir until the dough comes together in a ball, adding more a bit at a time if needed (the original recipe called for ¾ cup but I had to add an additional ¼ cup until my dough would stick together).
On a lightly floured surface, gather the dough into a bowl and knead gently 6 times. Pat dough into a 10 inch circle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut dough into three inch rounds with a lightly floured cutter (I used my ravioli cutter that I bought to make this recipe). Place on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Brush with buttermilk.
Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and then devour.
Abbe Lew reaching for another flakey buttery buttermilk biscuit. She just couldn't get enough of em!
Do you have a favorite gluten free biscuit recipe? Or a favorite brunch menu? Leave a comment & let me know. I love new ideas! This week, I’ll be having brunch in the park with Jess of Fit Chick in the City and I’m working on a gluten free vegan quiche recipe for the occasion. Stay tuned for the recipe!


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