These might be the best plant-based biscuits you've ever had. Fluffy, layered, and super buttery!
Some of my earliest kitchen memories were spent standing on a chair and watching my grandmother as her bare hands when into what would be a batch of her cathead biscuits. I don't know if my memory is failing me here or not but I truly don't recall her using any measuring cups. She would simply pour in her White Lily Self-Rising Flour, cut in a ton of butter, and pour in her regular ol' milk until everything felt just right. She'd, then, allow me to sink my little grubby hands into the dough and aid in plopping them in a baking sheet. It wasn't breakfast at grandmas house without those cathead biscuits. They were light and fluffy in the middle with a crusty textured outside. If you know, you know.
These biscuits are a bit more complicated than those, but honestly, how much easier does it get than a cathead biscuit? These are a bit fancier as they are rolled out, lightly laminated, and of course, totally vegan!
When formulating this recipe, I wanted something that I could make with ingredients that I nearly always have on hand - which doesn't always include plant-based butter. On the occasion that I do have plant-based butter, I typically only want to use it for spreading. That stuff can be expensive and I want to enjoy its pure unadulterated flavor. When I went looking for answers on the internet, I saw that while there were a lot of coconut oil-based vegan biscuits out there - none of them quite looked like what I wanted. They also didn't contain the necessary ingredients to compensate for all the classic flavor you're lacking when you remove dairy and butter. I ALSO noticed that very few of them used plant-based buttermilk - a staple in many southern biscuit recipes. So, my mission was pretty clear. Create a vegan biscuit without the use of butter that was all things a good biscuit can be. Buttery, tall, layered, flaky, tangy, and dare I say, slightly sweet?
The results were, as you can see, GLORIOUS! Now, just keep in mind, when I said that these are made with things I always have on hand, I meant that coming from someone who cooks and bakes plant-based nearly 100% of the time. My pantry has changed a bit as my lifestyle has. Some of these ingredients might seem a bit odd to you at first. If you eat plant-based regularly, you'll find yourself using them a lot for the same reasons they're used here. FLAVA'.
One of the secrets of having flaky and layered biscuits is doing a few rounds of dough layering or laminating. This includes gently shaping and flattening your dough into a rectangle - then folding pamphlet style. You'll do this laminating method about 3 times in this recipe. Watch your dough though. We don't want to work the dough too much. You'll know if the dough starts to pull back. Another not so secret secret is cold butter! When the butter melts and the biscuit rises, it creates beautiful little airy pockets. When working with a traditional biscuit recipe, keeping the butter cold is already a daunting task. One method is to freeze and grate the butter, which I learned from my sweet friend Joy The Baker. Thanks, Joy! However, this creates a bit of a conundrum when we're working with coconut oil. An oil that's slightly solid at room temperature but melts instantly into liquid oil at the touch of a hand. When frozen, it's so solid that it can't really be grated and by the time it's soft enough to grate, it's melting from your hands again. A solution to our problem was there and I'm happy to say that I found it.
In this recipe, before you start anything, you'll want to pour your coconut oil into a zippered sandwich bag. You'll lay it flat and remove as many air bubbles as possible before zipping it up. Then, you'll want to transfer it onto a flat surface and stick it in the freezer! That just sounded way more complicated than it actually is. Don't worry about it. Throw some coconut oil in a bag and lay it flat in the freezer. Bada-bing-bada-boom. Once the oil is frozen, which should only take about 10 minutes, remove it and use a rolling pin to break it into uneven shards inside the bag. Place back into the freezer and pull it out again to break the larger pieces with your hands right before using it. Easy Peasy!
This recipe yields about 6 large biscuits when cut into squares. I prefer to do this because you're left with fewer scraps than if you were to cut circles. The reworked dough never gives you quite the same results. Whichever you prefer here are a few things to keep in mind for the best biscuits possible:
Always use a sharp lightly floured knife or biscuit cutting in a straight up and down motion.
If using a biscuit cutter, do not turn the cutter. This seals the sides and prevents them from rising properly.
Don't use a cup or lid with a blunt edge to cut your biscuits. This will also seal the edges and prevent them from rising properly.
Place your biscuits as close together as possible. This will help them climb taller.
Always use an unsweetened and unflavored plant-based milk.
Cut your biscuits almost as tall as you want your final result. They will rise, but if you want really tall biscuits it starts with the tall dough.
Resist the urge to open the oven door. Use your light to check on the status of the and if you must open it - do it toward the end of baking.
Southern "Buttermilk" Biscuits
Author: Megan Thompson Aston
Time: 45 min
Yields 6-8 servings
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour ( White Lily is often regarded as best for biscuit making)
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup refined coconut oil
1 cup plant-milk ( soy works best)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Before you even preheat your oven, pour your coconut oil into a seal-able sandwich bag, lay it on a flat surface in the freezer until frozen. About 10 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 425. Line a baking sheet or round cake pan with parchment paper. For a crispier bottom, skip the parchment paper and liberally oil a round cake pan.
Remove your coconut oil from the freezer and place it on the counter. Roll over the frozen bag of coconut oil with a rolling pin to break it into uneven, but small chucks. Place it back into the freezer.
In a measuring cup, combine your plant-milk and apple cider vinegar. If using soy milk, the mixture will thicken into a beautiful "buttermilk". Place in the fridge until ready to use.
In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine all your dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and nutritional yeast.
Remove your coconut oil from the freezer and, using your hands, break apart any remaining large chunks.
Open your bag of coconut oil pieces and pour it all into your flour mixture. Tossing to combine.
Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in your pieces of coconut oil until the mixture is coarse but slightly nonuniform. You want a variety of different sized coconut pieces remaining, but for the overall look to be slightly sandy.
Remove the "buttermilk" from the fridge and pour it into your flour/oil mixture.
Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold the two together until just combined. It should be slightly shaggy but wet. You may still see a bit of flour. This is fine. We don't want to overwork the dough.
Turn the dough onto a generously floured surface and use your hands delicately to form into a uniform rectangle.
Now, using a rolling pin, gently press - don't roll- press the dough into a flatter larger rectangle.
Now, do a pamphlet fold by folding the left and right sides on top of one another into the center. Rotate your dough so it's a horizontal rectangle.
Again, using your rolling pin, press the dough into a larger rectangle. Repeat your pamphlet fold again. Rotate.
Repeat this process only once more for a total of 3 times.
Press into a rectangle with a thickness of 1 1/2 inches and roll your pin over once to create a smooth surface. Using a sharp knife, thinly remove the sides of the dough and cut into 6 large equal-sized biscuits in a straight up and down motion.
Arrange your biscuits close together with enough room for them to grow but not touch. About an inch.
Brush with extra coconut oil and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
These bake up beautifully after having been frozen. So, feel free to free freeze the biscuits and add an extra 5-10 minutes to their baking time.