This is what I ate for dinner last night.
I didn’t mean to have just biscuits for dinner. I made them to go with a big batch of soup that I’ll share with you later this week. But these biscuits. They’re soft and fluffy and studded with bacon, so hearty and filling all on their own.
Growing up, biscuits were not a thing. Pillsbury Grands at large family meals, sure. But for breakfast or brunch, I was always much more fond of plate-sized pancakes or Belgian waffles.
Craig, still a Southern boy at heart, is a big fan of biscuits. He tears them into pieces and smothers them in gravy. For years I struggled to craft a good gluten-free biscuit that was fluffy but not gummy, moist but still crumbly in that buttery-flaky kind of way. I’ve lost count of how many batches of dissatisfying, disgusting and altogether heartbreaking batches of biscuits I’ve baked (and then tossed).
Once I discovered a solid gluten-free biscuit recipe, it became a joy to spend a leisurely Sunday morning making biscuits and gravy to surprise Craig. Every once in a while, of course. With all that butter and milk, these are a treat we enjoy in moderation. (Or when I have a lot of milk I need to use up.)
Biscuits are an infinitely easy beauty, as long as you stick to a few basic truths. Everything should be cold. I weigh out the flour, whisk in the salt and baking powder, and place the bowl in the freezer to chill. After dicing the butter, I put it back in the fridge (or the freezer if I am short on time) to cool. The milk should be fresh out of the fridge, too. Once you’re ready to roll, work quickly. If you have the time (and the space), you can also place the sheet tray with the cut-out biscuits back in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes. (I have never personally done this. I’ve never had the space in my fridge, and I also bake my biscuits in a cast iron pan that’s more than 60 years old, handed down from Craig’s grandmother. I am sure it would be fine, but I don’t want to shock it by moving it swiftly from the freezer to the oven.)
This makes biscuits seem like a project. It can be. Slow down, take your time, enjoy the process. But, once you’ve done it a few times, the assembly line-like routine makes quick work of biscuit baking.
One last wise word: don’t cut in the butter until it is evenly crumbly or uniform in size. The butter should be roughly the size of a pea, but it shouldn’t all be one size. If you work the butter too finely into the flour, you will end up with mealy rather than fluffy and flaky biscuits. (This is partly why I have stopped using a food processor to cut the butter into the flour.)
These savory biscuits stand up to being the focal point of a meal. Serve with a green salad or steamed broccoli to balance the weight. Or pair with soup or a grilled steak. They are equally delicious toasted in the morning and drizzled with honey.
No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.
— Julia Child
- Bleu cheese
Gluten-Free Biscuits with Bacon, Bleu Cheese and Parsley
3 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
6 ounces bleu cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
10½ ounces gluten-free all purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill GF Cup for Cup blend)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted organic butter, diced and chilled
10 ounces (1¼ cups) cold milk (or buttermilk)
Place the diced bacon in a non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crispy and the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon from the pan and allow to cool. Reserve the grease if you want. (You could even cool it and use it in the biscuits, if you’re feeling adventurous!)
Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes or so until chilled. (Feel the flour mixture lightly with your finger. It should be cool to the touch.)
Preheat your oven to 450° and prep your pan. I like to bake biscuits in a cast iron skillet, but I also prepared them in a ceramic scone pan this time which I lightly greased with butter. If you’re using a sheet pan, lay down some parchment paper, a silpat baking mat, or grease it lightly with butter or non-stick spray.
When all the biscuit ingredients are chilled, add the diced butter to the bowl of flour. Using a pastry cutter, two knives or even your fingers, work the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly.
Make a well in the center and add the milk, bacon, bleu cheese and parsley. Stir gently just until everything is moistened. The mixture will be loose and still appear crumbly, but you shouldn’t have large parts of flour that are still dry. If you do, add just a splash more milk.
If you’re using a scone or biscuit pan, use your hands to scoop the dough and gently press it into the wells of the pan.
If you’re cutting out biscuits, dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and use your hands to gather and press everything together. Fold the left size of the dough into the center, and then fold the right side toward the center. Press down slightly and rotate the dough. Do the same folds on the left and right with what used to be the top and bottom of the dough. Press the dough with your hands until it is about 1-inch thick. Dip a biscuit cutter or a glass into flour and cut out rounds, being careful not to twist the cutter. Place the rounds on your prepared pan and continue gathering, folding and cutting dough until you’ve cut out all the rounds you can.
Bake for 18-20 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown on the bottom and around the edges. Allow to cool almost to room temperature before enjoying. (They are more likely to fall apart if you try to eat them hot out of the oven.)