We were all felled with a cold this past weekend, so most of our time was spent indoors or on the porch for a brief few minutes here and there to catch some sun. I haven’t run in nearly two weeks and am sorely feeling the lack. Hopefully soon. Though I always feel a bit lazy when I don’t exercise or cook or do much of anything of all of all the times of the year this late-winter stretch is the right time to hibernate.
So we made tea. Watched old episodes of ‘Inspector Lewis’ on netflix. Read the Sunday paper online. Tried to get some extra sleep (unfortunately I failed rather miserably at that endevour.) Ate turnip-potato soup with spinach and drank loads of orange juice. Also, a batch of delicious biscuits made with olive oil and whole wheat flour.
This post is short and sweet, mostly because I am still under the weather (as is the girl) and I hate to let another week go by without sharing what is arguably my new favorite recipe for biscuits. In truth, I didn’t make biscuits often until we moved here. As I’ve noted before, it’s hard to dash off for a loaf of bread or other little items when I’m home avec bebe during the week. There’s a lot of making do. When I make soup I like to have some bread and cheese and hummus to go with it; it’s the bread part that’s most important. So when I’m out of bread I make biscuits.
Oh who am I kidding — even when we do have bread in the house I make biscuits. In truth it was getting slightly out of hand and as you may know most biscuit recipes call for a good amount of butter. Butter is not bad but you don’t want to go nuts either. I haven’t located any margarine here yet (though in Casablanca’s defense I haven’t really looked) and anyway I’m trying very hard these days to use ingredients in their purest state … i.e. olive oil rather than something packaged. When I found a recipe for vegan biscuits I decided to try making it with olive oil, why not, and the results were so great I don’t know if I can really go back to using butter.
The key is to get your olive oil very cold — let it sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. This makes for a surprisingly light and fluffy biscuit with a fairly tender crumb that equally surprises. The rest of the batter comes together very quickly and easily. I did mostly whole wheat flour here and will try exclusively whole wheat the next time. I also add just a touch of sugar because I like that hint of sweetness but you can for sure leave it out. Sometimes we eat these with butter and cheese (yes — lack of butter in the dough means we can pile it on afterwards?!, sometimes with honey, sometimes with jam, sometimes to sandwich a fried egg. Whatever way you go, it’s delicious.
One might think, given the absence of butter, that these biscuits might be a bit bland and flat in both appearance and taste. Quite the contrary! I think I prefer biscuits made without butter; they aren’t quite as heavy, and as for some reason we’ve been on a vegan (ish) kick lately they more than suit our lighter taste. I have made this recipe with buttermilk and with soy milk and frankly I think either one makes for a batch of fluffy, tender biscuits.
Makes 6-8 biscuits
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons natural sugar (optional)
6 tablespoons olive oil, chilled in the fridge
3/4-1 cup cold non-dairy milk (or buttermilk)
Heat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bow, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and sugar if using.
Add chilled olive oil and using a fork or your hands, rub it into the flour until the mixture is crumbly.
Pour in the cold non-dairy milk or buttermilk and, using a wooden spoon, stir until a dough forms (add a bit more milk if it’s too dry).
Turn dough out on to a clean, lightly floured surface. Roll dough (or press with fingers) until it is in a 1- inch thick rectangle.
Use biscuit cutter (or jar or cup) to cut biscuits into desired size and shape OR use a tablespoon to make drop biscuits.
Place biscuits on the baking sheet, place in the oven, and bake for about 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let sit on sheet for 5 minutes. Serve slightly warm.