Due to food allergies, I recently started a gluten and dairy-free diet. I’ve only been on this new diet for a few weeks, but it hasn’t been as bad as I had imagined. Although don’t get me wrong, finding foods that don’t contain wheat flour, milk, cheese, or butter (hey, all my favorite foods!) can be challenging and expensive.
All I’ve wanted to eat lately is biscuits! Biscuits, however, are made up of flour (wheat), milk, and butter (Mmmmm, gluten AND dairy). My stubbornness finally got the best of me, and I set off to try and make biscuits I could actually eat.
Whenever I’m in the mood to bake I go straight to my New Cook Book by Better Homes and Gardens. I love that all their recipes are already pretty healthy and super simple. I took a look at their Baking Powder Biscuit Recipe to see what I would need to substitute so that I could eat them (For those of you lucky enough to consume gluten and dairy, check out my note at the end of this post!).
Not satisfied with plain old biscuits, I decided to make cinnamon-sugar biscuits and biscuits with mixed-spices. Since I wasn’t sure how they would turn out, I split the recipe in half and made the two different types of biscuits in two separate bowls. I will admit it took a few times of trial and error to get these right. At first I replaced the wheat flour with just brown rice flour… that was a huge mistake! They tasted really gritty and well, like big globs of rice. Not what I was going for!
I’ve since found that these biscuits, as well as gluten free (GF) baking in general, taste a lot better with a mix of flours. Since GF flours tend to be a bit heavier than regular wheat flour, it helps to add in some type of starch (tapioca, arrowroot, corn…) to the mix to make your baked goods a little bit fluffier. The ratio of flour to starch depends on what your are baking and who you ask! I tend to favor a mixture that is at least 1/3 starch. (Note: if you have problems with sugar or are watching your sugar intake, remember that your body basically processes starch as sugar, so make sure to watch your intake or consult with a physician/ dietitian)
Gluten in flour is a natural binder and is what typically keeps baked goods from just crumbling apart. Since GF flours are obviously lacking gluten, it is sometimes necessary to add a different type of binder such as xanthan gum or unflavored gelatin to the mix. Eggs and/ or a mixture of chia seeds & water also work as binders that you can use for other recipes.
After what felt like a million batches, I finally came up with this basic recipe that is both good and really simple to make! The base of each type of biscuit is the same (Note: the following recipe will make 5 biscuits):
Gluten and Dairy-Free Biscuits:
2/3 c Brown rice flour
1/3 c tapioca flour/ starch
2/3 cup Wheat-alternative flour of your choice* + 1/3 c starch of your choice
1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/4 tsp xanthan gum or unflavored gelatin
2 tbs Olive Oil
3/8 c Almond (or rice) milk**
Add 1 tablespoon of sugar (I used brown sugar), honey or agave; sprinkle with cinnamon and mix together (I have to admit, these were by far the winner of the two types of biscuits, but both were really good!).
Season your biscuit mix with a blend of your favorite spices. I added a pinch each of garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, parsley, carrot crumbs, pepper and salt. It’s also very good with fresh chopped green onions, red onion, and/or garlic. If you can have dairy, parmesan cheese is excellent as well!
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and knead the dough.* It’s not the same sticky, messy type of kneading as bread dough, so don’t be afraid to use your hands.
- Shape the dough into even sized biscuits. They don’t puff up a lot, so make them about the size you want them to end up.
- Bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes at 450 degrees (Fahrenheit) on an ungreased baking sheet.
- Let cool and enjoy!!
- Try not to eat them all at once (optional).
*You can pretty much use any type of GF flour, but I strongly recommend using a mix of at least 2 types of flour (in addition to the starch). This will help to keep one type of GF flour from overpowering the biscuits taste wise.
** If you use 1/2 c of milk or milk alternative (instead of 3/8 cup) you will end up with a moist dough that you can just spoon onto your baking sheet (and 6 biscuits instead of 5).
The directions in the original recipe say to mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl, make a well in the middle, and add the wet ingredients (pre-mixed in another bowl). Since I like to save dishes, I just add all the ingredients together in one bowl and mix them up at the same time. I chose the knead-the-dough method and it took less than 15 minutes to whip up and shape both types of biscuits. Let me know how your biscuits turn out!
Note: for those who can eat foods containing gluten and dairy, simply replace the wheat-alternative flour with regular flour, the olive oil with butter (I like leaving the butter in chunks so it melts in while baking!), and the almond milk with regular milk…and Voilà, old-fashioned biscuits everyone will enjoy!