(The instructions for this recipe were updated 6/2/18)
Yes, I did. No, I don’t feel guilty about it, even one little bit. Neither should you.
Buttermilk biscuits, and biscuits in general, are hard to re-create, y’all. No joke. As I’ve mentioned before, there are some chemical properties of wheat and gluten that are very difficult to mimic. Nevertheless, I’ve managed to capture the qualities of a “real” buttermilk biscuit here (and Lordy, am I proud of it!), but it’s been a long road and included a lot of experimenting and testing (and re-testing).
In this recipe, there are two secret weapons: plain gelatin and plain MCT oil powder. You can skip these ingredients, but they make a texture difference. I have been testing this formulation for months. Trust me.
The gelatin helps the biscuits stay moist and tender, while also holding everything together well enough that they don’t crumble. For a Lenten Friday meal, I used one to make an egg and cheese biscuit and it was glorious!
The second secret weapon is the plain MCT powder. This stuff was truly the icing on the cake…. errr, biscuit. As I tinkered, getting the fat content just right was difficult. Adding more butter or lard, or even a liquid fat like mct oil or extra heavy cream would mess up the ingredient balance and run the risk of spreading or just being too wet. No one wants soggy, spreading biscuits.
Still, the more I tested, the more I realized something was missing. Something to give it a little extra crunch to the crust. That thing was the MCT powder. Just that little bit of extra fat, incorporated without throwing off the crucial wet-to-dry ratio, helped the tops and bottoms crust up perfectly. The result is a biscuit that’s super tender inside but with a good bit of bite to the outsides.
Notes: I didn’t list this as vegetarian or pescatarian-friendly, because it contains gelatin. Some practicing these eating lifestyles include gelatin, while others do not. For the purposes of my religious practices, gelatin is totally OK to consume during Lent, even though it’s derived from animal bones. For whatever reason, it’s not counted as meat (don’t know why, but I’m just going with it). However, if you consider gelatin off-limits in your vegetarian or pescatarian diet this is one you’ll probably want to skip. This recipe just works with the gelatin, and is well-below my personal expectations without it.
Obviously, I didn’t use buttermilk. To get the same richness that buttermilk provides, as well as that slight tang, I simply soured some heavy cream by adding vinegar. That’s really all there is to it.
Also, it’s really important that you don’t overwork the dough. Your hands are warm, and so is the ambient temperature in your room, so the more you mess with it, the more you run the risk of overheating the cold fat and having your biscuits spread. Same goes for processing it in the food processor. That wonderful gadget makes it super easy to cut the cold fat into your dry mixture, but remember that it produces heat as it runs, so go light on the pulsing.
Lastly, I put this in the notes below, but I pretty much always get 7 biscuits from one batch of dough. I know that’s an odd number, so if you wanted to use a cutter slightly larger or smaller to even it out, it’s fine. Just watch it once you turn down the heat in the oven. When the tops are golden, so are you!
Recipe updated 10/22/2020. The original instructions included preheating the skillet while making the dough, but this requires a very quick handling time. To avoid or minimize spreading, I’ve eliminated that step and listed another pan as an option, if desired.
- 3/4 c (6 fl oz/ 177 ml) heavy cream
- 1 tbsp. (1/2 fl oz/ 15 ml) white vinegar
- 7 oz (198 g) fine almond flour (I use King Arthur brand)
- 2/3 oz (18 g) coconut flour
- 1 level tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 envelope (1/4 oz / 7 g weight) plain gelatin (Knox brand is fine)
- 1 scoop (approx. 10 g) plain MCT powder
- 1/4 c very cold lard OR 1/2 stick (2 oz/ 57 g) very cold butter (if using butter, cube it)
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp. (1/2 fl oz/ 15 ml) water
- In a small bowl, mix together the heavy cream and vinegar and set aside. In a separate small bowl, beat the water and egg together to make an egg wash, and set it aside.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F, lightly rub a cast iron skillet down with butter or lard. Alternatively, you can use a brownie pan with the individual wells for each brownie (if you’re worried about spreading, this is the option I recommend).
- Place all dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse a few times to incorporate.
- Add the very cold lard or butter to the food processor and pulse a few times more, just until it looks like very coarse crumbs. Don’t process it too far or try to get the incorporation too fine! There should be pea-sized globules (or slightly larger) of the powder-coated fat spread throughout.
- Turn the mixture out into a mixing bowl.
- Stir the heavy cream and vinegar mixture again, then mix it into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon or spatula until it is just combined. DO NOT overmix! This dough is going to be a bit shaggy, (ie, loose and wet-ish) and that’s OK.
- Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper.
- Gently pat the dough out until it’s 1/2″ thick. Work quickly and don’t overhandle the dough, or you will heat the cold fat too much and it will spread when it bakes.
- Using a 2″ round biscuit cutter (if using a brownie pan, use a square biscuit cutter 2” across), or a glass or can that is 2″ in diameter, cut out biscuits and set each one aside.
- Recombine the dough with your hands and pat back out to 1/2″ thickness, then cut again. Repeat until all the dough is used. This can make between 6 and 8 biscuits, but I typically get 7 exactly from a batch of dough.
- Arrange biscuits in the skillet (or wells of a brownie pan), then brush the tops with the egg wash (you won’t use all the egg wash, and that’s OK).
- Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes.
- Turn down the heat to 350 degrees F and continue to bake an additional 5-8 minutes, until tops are golden.
- Remove from the oven and let stand to cool.
- Serve, as desired.
Macros are calculated assuming 7 biscuits, and do not include the incidental protein from the egg wash. Seriously, y’all, it’s miniscule. Don’t sweat it.
If you make a mistake and overhandle the dough, let it get a bit too warm, or just need a few extra minutes between cutting and baking, that’s OK. Stick it in the fridge for ten minutes and then try again.
Lard yields the best flavor here, but since finding one that’s not hydrogenated can be difficult, you may also use butter in its place. Yes, I know it sounds crazy to say lard tastes better than butter in anything, but it’s true.
Per biscuit: 353.4 cal, 8.4 g protein, 33.1 g fat, 8.2 g carbs, 4.3 g fiber, 3.9 g NET carbs
- Serving Size: 1 biscuit (1/7 recipe)
Keywords: Buttermilk Biscuits Bread, Biscuits, Baking