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Home Craft Make Ultra-Tender Biscuits With Oat Flour

Make Ultra-Tender Biscuits With Oat Flour

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Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

The quest for tender biscuits always starts out the same—smashing butter, flour, and liquid together—and yet, it can end in all sorts of ways. Besides the occasionally dry, crunchy biscuit, the most frequent sad result is a tough and rubbery biscuit from overworking the dough. Short of becoming a Southern grandma, there is a way to minimize the likelihood of a tough biscuit, even if you do tend to muck-about with your dough too long. Instead of relying on conventional, gluten-filled flour: Make oat flour biscuits instead.

When making tender biscuits, or any pastry for that matter, we are always fighting against gluten development. Contrarily, we also need to develop gluten, so the biscuit, pie shell, or puff pastry can hold its shape and perform other important duties, like holding air pockets and leavening. Striking the perfect balance of gluten development is usually where bakers have difficulty. Underwork the dough and there won’t be enough gluten to hold it together at all, making it impossible to shape and even resulting in dry, cracked pastry. Overwork the pastry and the gluten becomes so strong that you lose flakiness, height, and the ability to bite it with your natural teeth.

In order to formulate a less finicky biscuit recipe, I decided to take out a large percentage of the gluten causing all-purpose flour, and replace it with oat flour. This drastically reduces the gluten content by about 87%, which means you don’t have to stress about each stir, or doing one fold too many. There are other gluten-free flours out there, but I prefer oat flour in this application because it presents a similar texture to all-purpose flour with a very subtle oat taste, and charming knobbly texture. Other gluten-free flours are made with beans or starchy roots, and although those are used in plenty of recipes, they can have unwanted flavors, gummy textures, or require numerous companion ingredients. Oat flour is a 1:1 ratio, and you can make it at home by dumping old-fashioned oats into a food processor and blending it for two minutes.

Please note that this is not a gluten-free recipe; it’s more of a low-gluten recipe. If you have gluten allergies or other gluten restrictions, this may not be the biscuit for you. However, it is the biscuit for you if you like oats, or if you just can’t seem to stop overworking your biscuit dough to the point where you’ve considered giving up. Although oat flour has better binding abilities than many other gluten-free flours due to its available gelatinous starches, it can’t do it all. A quarter cup of all-purpose flour is left in the mix to hold it together, along with a little cornstarch.

This biscuit dough is made the same way traditional buttermilk biscuits are made. Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl, and add chunks of cold butter. Blend the butter in the way you normally do (break, pinch, use a pastry blender, cut with two knives, use a fork, grate it in—you name it, I like it), until the butter is about the size of unshelled edamame or a little smaller, but don’t go smaller than pea-sized. Add the buttermilk and mix with a fork or plastic-bowl-scraper until it just holds together. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a ½-inch thick rectangle with your finger tips. Do a letter-fold onto itself (fold the dough in thirds, like the bills you get in the mail), and use a rolling pin to gently roll it out until it’s ¾-inch thick rectangle. Use a circular cutter or a knife to make six biscuits. Egg wash them and bake in a 425°F oven for 15 minutes.

These oat flour biscuits will fill your kitchen with an toasty aroma that most people won’t be able to put their finger on. Not quite oatmeal or granola, the smell of oats and butter has a caramelized, nutty fragrance. The finished biscuits are so tender, it only takes a little pressure to peel off a toasty layer. These biscuits are unsweetened because I like the option of throwing an egg on top, but you could add a tablespoon of sugar to the dry ingredients if you appreciate a slightly sweet biscuit. For a cozy autumn breakfast, slather these babies in a compound butter of cinnamon, honey, and a touch of salt.

Tender Oat Flour Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ cups oat flour
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick cold butter (4 ounces)
  • 4 ounces buttermilk
  • Egg wash (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, blend the first six ingredients. Cut chunks of cold butter into the dry mixture. Use your fingers, or any implement of choice, to pinch and break the butter into the dry mixture until the butter pieces are about the size of unshelled edamame beans and no smaller than peas. Add the buttermilk and use a fork to mix it in until it mostly holds together and there is not much dry mixture at the bottom.

Lightly flour a countertop and dump the biscuit dough out onto the floured surface. Using your fingertips, gather the dough to claim any dry bits that have tried to escape. Flatten the mass into a ½-inch thick rectangle. Do a letter-fold to create three layers of dough. Use a rolling pin to gently roll out the dough, keeping the rectangular shape, until it is about ¾-inch thick. Using a round biscuit cutter, or a knife to make squares, cut out six biscuits. Depending on how you like to bake biscuits, place them with the scraps (or without) on the lined baking sheet. Egg wash only the tops of the dough (don’t let it drip down the sides).

Bake in a 425°F oven for 15 minutes. The biscuits will be golden brown on top, and soft but set. Enjoy hot, or room temperature with butter and honey, or with sausage gravy. These biscuits freeze, well wrapped, for up to three months. To revive them, toast them in a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes.

   

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