Introduction: Fluffy GF Cheddar Biscuits With Expandex!
Runner Up in the
Gluten Free Challenge
About two years ago I was shopping at the grocery store and came across a new private label gluten-free product in the freezer section: breakfast sausage patties!
I hadn't had a breakfast sandwich since long before I was diagnosed with Celiac disease and now it was almost within my reach to eat one again. The only problem was that it was crying out for a fluffy biscuit to accompany it. Where was I going to find that? Well, the answer turned out to be nowhere. Sure, I could find plenty of passable english-type gluten free muffins or bagels, but nothing could hold a candle to a light, buttery, fluffy biscuit.
It took ages to perfect a recipe that would do my breakfast sandwich justice. After a lot of trial and error (and many hockey puck-like biscuits later), I finally perfected a recipe for cheddar cheese biscuits that I was more than happy with. I would have come up with this recipe sooner, but it wasn't until I found Expandex (only recently available in Canada) that it all came together.
If you've never heard of Expandex, it's a certified gluten-free powder made from modified tapioca starch. Unlike other gluten-free flours, it's not meant to be used alone. It's used to substitute only a portion of the gluten-free flours that are typically used in a recipe. It supposedly improves the texture, taste and shelf-life of baked products it's used in. I can't attest for the shelf-life claim because these biscuits get gobbled up soon after they're made, but the texture and taste exceeded my expectations for a gluten-free biscuit, so give Expandex and my recipe a try!
Step 1: Video
If you plan to make these biscuits, check out the video above. I usually whip up only half a batch for Sunday morning breakfast so they're fresh, but the full recipe below should make 8 biscuits.
Step 2: Ingredients
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk (I used ½ cup 10% cream + ½ cup water because it's what I had)
- 2 Tablespoons soft cheese such as labneh, cream cheese or ricotta cheese
- 6 tablespoons butter cut into small cubes (60 g) (I used salted butter)
Tip: Keep all ingredients cold until ready to use. Cold butter is especially important to ensure a fluffy biscuit so I put it in the freezer after it's cut while I'm preparing the other ingredients.
- 2 cups gluten free flour
- ¼ cup Expandex
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
- ½ cup aged cheddar cheese, grated
TIP: Keeping flax seeds whole until you are ready to grind a portion will keep the fatty acids well protected. Grind your own flax seeds in a coffee/spice grinder and store in a sealable bag in the fridge so it keeps fresh. If you buy already ground flax meal, freeze it so you can use what you need. The freezer will keep the ground flax from oxidizing and losing valuable nutrients.
Step 3: Utensils/Equipment
- Rolling pin
- 3.5" biscuit cutter (you can use whatever size you prefer but it will affect the number of biscuits you get)
- Wooden spoon
- Waxed paper
- Green painters tape
- Pastry blender (or two knives)
- Parchment paper or silicone mat
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
Step 4: Prep Work
Cut butter into small cubes and freeze for 15 minutes. Grate ½ cup of aged cheddar cheese and set aside. Measure out all dry ingredients.
Step 5: Mix Wet Ingredients in Measuring Cup
Use a fork to beat the egg. Mix the wet ingredients (egg, soft cheese and milk) together in a measuring cup. I used home made labneh for the soft cheese component (shown in the last picture). Labneh is a soft cheese made from strained yogurt. I was trying to add some tang to complement the aged cheddar, but you can substitute cream cheese or ricotta cheese instead; use whatever soft cheese you have.
Step 6: Mix Dry Ingredients in Bowl
Into a mixing bowl add the dry ingredients: 2 cups flour, ¼ cup expandex, 4 tsp baking powder,1 tsp salt and 2 tablespoons ground flax. Mix with a wooden spoon to combine.
Step 7: Cut in Butter
Remove the butter from the freezer and add it into the flour mixture. Briefly stir to coat the butter with the flour and use a pastry blender to cut it into smaller pieces. The butter should be about the size of small peas.
TIP: if you don't have a pastry blender, you can also run two knives through the butter to cut it smaller.
Step 8: Preheat Oven, Combine Ingredients
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Add wet ingredients into flour mixture and mix. Stir in grated cheese and mix until incorporated. The mixture will be wet.
Step 9: Shape the Dough
If you don't have a stone countertop, you can roll out a piece of waxed paper to protect the surface and prevent the dough from sticking.
TIP: I stick a piece of green painters' tape on either side of the waxed paper to hold it down to the counter so it doesn't shift while rolling and cutting. I also prepare a small bowl of flour to dip the biscuit cutter into between cuts.
In the bowl, add some flour onto the top of the dough. Flour your working surface (in my case, the waxed paper). Take the dough from the bowl and put it onto the floured surface. Form into a circle. Put another piece of waxed paper on top. Use the rolling pin with a light touch to roll the dough out to no less than ½” thickness. You can roll it thicker if you prefer higher biscuits (you'll just get less of them).
Step 10: Cut Out and Repeat
Cut dough with the biscuit cutter.
TIP: The best cutting technique is to push straight down into the dough and lift straight up without twisting the cutter. Twisting the cutter will just squish the layers and the biscuits won't be as fluffy when they bake. Flour the biscuit cutter with extra flour between cuts if you find it's sticking.
Use up the remaining dough by piecing together the scraps and repeating the previous steps. I made only four biscuits to demonstrate this Instructable, but the recipe will make eight if you use the same sized biscuit cutter I did (3.5").
TIP: Try not to overwork the dough while you are piecing together the scraps so the butter doesn't melt. Cold butter = a fluffy biscuit.
Step 11: Get Ready to Bake
Put the biscuits onto a tray lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper; they can be packed close but not touching.
Bake 15 – 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the first batch you make to avoid over browning. All ovens are different so the time may vary.
Step 12: Let Cool Before Eating
This is where gluten free biscuits vary from regular ones: resist the temptation to eat these straight out of the hot oven because they will still be a bit gummy on the inside until they cool.
Step 13: Cook Up Your Favourite Breakfast Fixins' and Assemble
For my breakfast sandwich, I use the gluten free sausage patties I found at the supermarket. While that's cooking, I oil egg rings and put them into another pan with some butter. I wisk the eggs and pour them into the rings to cook until set.
I cut the bun in half. When everything is cooked, I stack the sausage patty, a piece of processed cheese and egg on the bottom then top it with the other half of the cheddar cheese biscuit.
Step 14: Enjoy It As a Sandwich or Toasted With Butter the Next Day
As I mentioned, I usually make a small batch of only what I can eat in two days. When they're fresh, I use them the first day to make breakfast sandwiches.
The next day, I cut them open and toast them on a bagel setting (which toasts only the inside). Then I slather them with butter to accompany bacon and eggs.
Step 15: Vote for Me - and Give Expandex a Try in Your Next Gluten Free Baking Recipe
I'm impressed with my first trial of Expandex and will be experimenting more with it in the future. I'd do more experimenting with it now, but a few months ago at the grocery store I was disappointed to find out that my favourite (and ONLY) gluten free sausage patties were discontinued. I bought the few boxes they had to keep in the freezer and tide me over for a while. But before I run out of store bought sausage, it looks like I'll be spending some of my spare time recipe-developing a home made version (gluten free of course).
I guess if I can make a fluffy gluten free cheddar cheese biscuit, I can figure something out with the sausage too. However, it took a long time to nail the biscuit so, for this one, I'll hedge my bets: I'll challenge my wife to a friendly breakfast sausage recipe competition. How else am I going to keep from getting even skinnier than I already am? I NEED my weekly breakfast sandwiches and my sausage supply is running precariously low! It will be interesting to see who comes out the winner; she never shies away from a challenge. Regardless of who wins, you can count on seeing an awesome breakfast sausage recipe from The Unknown Chef in an upcoming Instructable.
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