Biscuits – regular & vegan

Modified from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Bernbaum

Ingredients:

Ingredient                        Volume           Grams
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Unsalted butter, cold         6 Tbsp             85g
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AP flour                           1 1/4 cup        182g
Cake flour                        2/3 cup            86g
Baking powder                 1 Tbsp              14.7g
Salt                                 1 tsp                  6.6g
Sugar                              1-3 Tbsp*           12-37g
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Buttermilk**                      3/4 liquid cup     174g

Optional:
Melted butter for coating
Additional flavours (see note at the end)

* – Use 1 Tbsp for savoury biscuits, use 3 Tbsp for sweet
** – if you don’t have buttermilk, use 3/4 cup regular milk or cream and mix in 2 tsp of vinegar
Step 1:
Preheat oven to 400F
Cut butter into 1/4″ cubes and place in freezer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients

Step 2:
Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to incorporate

Step 3:
Take butter out of freezer and dump into bowl.  Mix togther with your hands by squeezing the butter cubes between your thumb and forefinger to make little flour coated butter disks.  Keep doing this until all the butter is mixed in and the mixture starts to get a little mealy.  If you’re going to add extra flavours, this is the time.

Step 4:
Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in buttermilk.  Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the milk, first with a wooden spoon and then with your hands just until most of flour is hydrated and the dough starts to hold together. Be careful not to over-mix here, better to undermix than to overmix.

Step 5:
Dump the dough out onto a floured counter top.  It should come out in many clumps.  If it’s one big mass, make a note to mix less in Step 4 next time.

Step 6:
Gather the clumps together and give the dough a couple of folds to add layers and bring the dough together.  As before, the less you work it the better – but you need at least 2 folds.  Pat it out to 1-2″ thick (depends if you like tall, flaky biscuits or thinner, crustier ones).

Cut the dough with a biscuit cutter, or (my preference) an old tin can.  Be sure not to twist the cutter – push it straight down and bring it straight back up.  Place the cut biscuits onto a cookie sheet.  When you run out of room, gather the remaining dough together and pat it out again.

Step 7:
bake the biscuits at 400 for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375 and bake for another 12-15 minutes.
Vegan Version
For a vegan version you can substitute Earth Balance or your favourite butter substitute for the butter and soy, almond or coconut milk for the milk.  The trick of mixing in vinegar also works with soy or almond milk, and coconut milk gives them a sweet, coconut flavour.
Variations & Additional Ingredients:
You can add any of your favourite ingredients to these biscuits in Step 3, but here are a couple of ideas:

For sweet ginger biscuits, use the larger amount of sugar at the start and add 2 Tbsp diced candied ginger.  Serve with stewed peaches and whipped cream for a nice variation on strawberry shortcake

For cheddar chive biscuits, add 1 cup sharp cheddar and 1/4 cup fresh chives.

Pro tip – Grand Central Bakery Jammers!:

For a great breakfast treat, make a well in the center of the biscuits by picking them up and working around the center with your thumbs (be careful not ot poke through the bottom)  Then fill it with your favourite jam before baking.

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