Introduction: Sexy Vegan Biscuits (w/ Country Gravy)
WHO SAYS VEGAN CAN'T BE SEXY!?
These delectable biscuits are flaky and fluffy (the perfect blend between crunchy and soft)...everything you'd expect from your favorite home-style biscuit. They're only made with SIX on-hand ingredients, and they cook in just 10-15 minutes! Move over, Pillsbury...you've met your match ;)
(BONUS: Included in this instructable is a deliciously simple sage country gravy recipe that's vegan, too.)
Step 1: What You'll Need...
2 cups all-purpose flour (I always use unbleached flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (or 1 teaspoon extra of baking powder if you don't have baking soda on hand)
3/4 teaspoon salt (but I use just a pinch instead)
4 tablespoons COLD butter**
1 cup COLD soy milk (or other non-dairy milk...but I prefer soy milk)**
1 1/2 tablespoon margarine (I use non-hydrogenated margarine)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups soy milk (or water--I've tried both, and both are equally satisfying)
Ground sage to taste
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
You MUST keep your margarine and milk in the fridge until you're ready to add them to your bowl. If you don't do this, they will NOT turn out. If you even just set out your milk and margarine while you mix the rest, they will be too warm to work with, so just leave them in the fridge until you need them. If they do get left out (or are warmer), slip them in the freezer for a few minutes to quickly chill them again (but not freeze them).
Step 2: Making the Dough...
1. PREHEAT YOUR OVEN TO 450 DEGREES. *Important Tip: It is crucial that you allow your oven to preheat fully to this high temperature (or else your biscuits will not cook properly). Do not rush this process. :)
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Take your margarine out of the fridge now, and add it to the dry mix.
4. Using your hands, rub the flour into the margarine and the margarine into the flour (see above pic). Basically, use your thumb to rub the flour and margarine mix across the middle part of your index finger, and push it over the edge of your hand so that it creates a sand-like or Parmesan-like consistency throughout. This step is important. As you see in the pictures, you must "grind" it smaller...this is obtained by keeping your butter COLD (that way it sifts through your hands and doesn't stick together). If you don't do this, it will either have a very hard and tough texture once it's cooked...OR once you pour your milk in, the dough will turn to mush.
5. Add the COLD milk now to the mix. Your dough should look like picture #4 once it's been combined.
Step 3: Forming the Biscuits...
1. Transfer your dough from the bowl to a floured surface.
2. Fold it over itself and knead it a couple times (only about 2-3). The KEY to forming perfect biscuits is NOT handling the dough too much.
3. Pat it down with your hands to "roll" it out. DO NOT use a rolling pin. This is where you decide the thickness of your biscuits. If you want thick jumbo biscuits, then don't pat it down so much (only to about 1/2" thickness). NOTE: This will mean you only get about 8 jumbo biscuits from this recipe. Since I have a bunch of mouths to feed, I usually flatten mine to about 1/4" thickness, and that gives me about 15 (give or take) biscuits. They still have the same flaky/fluffy goodness as the jumbo kind though!
4. Using anything that has the same size diameter as the size of biscuits you want to make (I used a little mason jar drinking glass), cookie-cut your biscuits out of the dough and place them on a non-greased baking sheet.
5. When you get to the last biscuit, take the scraps, scoop them into a pile, and fold them over only once or twice more. Now, cookie-cut the rest of your biscuits. (Do this until all the dough is used up.) Usually by the end, I have scraps enough to hand-form one last biscuit.
NOTE: When all is said and done, I have folded over/kneaded my biscuit dough NO MORE THEN about 5-6 times (making each knead really count so I can use less of them).
Step 4: Ready for Baking...
1. Once they're all on the baking sheet, use your first two fingers to press indents into the tops of each biscuit. This is another IMPORTANT step as it keeps your biscuits from rising too much in the oven (so they keep their beautiful biscuit consistency).
2. Heat a tablespoon or two of margarine (I use a small skillet over my stove to heat it), and pour it with a spoon into each indent you've made. Using your spoon, spread the excess from the middle out over all the sides. This is easily accomplished by putting the bottom of your spoon into the middle of your biscuit (in the margarine) and moving it in a circular motion to evenly splash the margarine over the biscuit's edges.
3. Bake the biscuits in the HOT oven for roughly 9-12 minutes (for regular biscuits) or 10-15 minutes (for jumbo biscuits).
TIP: They are ready to take out of the oven when they are just barely golden brown on the edges and the top has settled (it's not mushy). If you wait until the tops are browned, then you will have a charcoal biscuit! (The biscuits will cook a little more inside themselves once they're out of the oven.)
BAKER'S TIP: If you start to smell them, CHECK THEM. Never wait for the time to run out if your biscuits are saying they're done sooner. It's better to check them too early, then to have them burnt because you waited too long. It's always a good practice when baking, to check your goods at the LOWEST time given (or if you smell them sooner). So, for example, if I said they take between 9-12 minutes to cook, then check them at 9 minutes first.
NOTE: These biscuits will keep in the fridge nicely for at least a week in a Ziploc bag. Just reheat them in the oven again (350 degrees) or in the microwave (but this will make them soggier). You can also freeze them in a Ziploc bag for up to 6 months, too.
*Author's Note: Sorry about the lighting in these pictures...my kitchen doesn't always get the best sunlight.
Step 5: Making Gravy...
1. In a medium skillet (or small saucepan), melt your butter over medium heat.
2. Then add the flour to the melted butter and whisk it around. This is not to brown the flour, but this makes it so that the flour will dissolve fully into the milk so it won't leave any clumps in your gravy.
3. Add the milk (or water). Keep whisking.
NOTE: You do NOT want the gravy to boil, so keep it on medium heat and keep whisking it.
4. You will probably whisk for a good few minutes over medium heat until the gravy starts to thicken*.
5. As it starts to thicken*, add your seasonings.
NOTE: You can really create ANY kind of gravy you want with this base. You can sautee onions and add a dry onion soup mix package to make it a dinner-style gravy. You can add beef or chicken seasoning (vegan, of course) to create different flavors. You can even add vegan/vegetarian sausage or bacon to make it heartier. Add anything you can dream up! :)
6. Serve hot over your biscuits! Mmmm... :D
*IMPORTANT NOTE: The gravy will continue to thicken after it's removed from the heat, so take that into consideration when trying to obtain your desired thickness. Aka: remove it while it's just slightly runnier then the thickness you want, then it will thicken up just right.
Store leftover gravy in a Tupperware container in the fridge for up to a week or so. Or freeze it in a Ziploc bag for up to 6 months.
Step 6: Summary of Tips...
There was a lot of information I presented to you today, so I wanted to summarize those tips into ONE list for ease of access.
I also wanted to use this last step to show off how sexy these biscuits are! YUM!!! ;)
IMPORTANT TIPS & TECHNIQUES:
1. Always make sure your oven is HOT (450 degrees) before baking your biscuits. Do NOT skip or hurry this.
2. Always make sure your margarine and milk are COLD...do NOT take them out of the fridge until you're ready to use them right then and there. If they do get too warm, simply pop them in the freezer until chilled (not frozen).
3. "Grind" the margarine and flour together with your hands to a small, sand-like/Parmesan-like consistency.
4. Use your hands to flatten the dough for "cookie-cutting" the biscuits. DO NOT use a rolling pin.
5. Do NOT handle/knead the biscuit dough more than 5-6 times total (or as few of times as possible).
6. Always indent your biscuits to make sure they don't rise too much and stay nice and biscuit-y.
7. Drizzle margarine over the tops of the biscuits to get that delectable golden brown, flaky crust.
8. Check your biscuits earlier then later, especially if you start to smell them.
9. For the gravy, make sure to heat the melted margarine and flour together first (but do NOT brown the flour) and keep the heat at medium, whisking continuously until it thickens. Also, do NOT allow the gravy to boil. You decide how thick or thin you want it, but note that it WILL thicken more as it sits off of the heat.