Our most recent winter, mild but prolonged, has finally passed. The scorching summer heat I crave so much is a few short weeks away, leaving us to the wiles of Spring’s in between days full of mild temps and torrential rains.
Our orchard is in full bloom, greenhouse experiments have run amok, and my oven is humming away on weekend mornings, with no other purpose than to take the chill out of the air before the sun comes up and we head out to plunge our hands into the dirt.
The one thing I stop doing by winter’s end is bake my own bread – my co-op holds fresh baked wheat-free boules for me twice a week, a luxury I look forward to when the days grow long and I spend every waking moment outdoors. As a baking addict, though, I still need a quick fix – biscuits.
I’m a firm believer that a combination of shortening and butter are better than all of one or the other; that everything – this includes your mixing bowl and baking sheet, not just the ingredients – should be very very cold; and that there is room for both drop and cut biscuits, sometimes in the same day.
As a wheat-allergic vegan living in a fairly non-vegan friendly town, I’m also a firm believer that flexibility is essential if I want to continue feeding my family. Which is why I didn’t hesitate to make biscuits when neither shortening nor butter were on hand.
Coconut cream drop biscuits
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These biscuits have an incredibly soft crumb, perfect for soaking up butter or preserves, and will be the building block of many a strawberry shortcake this summer. The sprinkling of sugar is not necessary, but brings out the otherwise barely perceptible coconut flavor from the cream. As mentioned above, you’ll want to chill all of your ingredients, your mixing bowl, and your baking sheet ahead of time. For the bowl and baking sheet, just pop them into the freezer for a couple of minutes and you should be good to go. If you’d rather not use parchment paper (I do so because wheat items are baked on the same trays and no amount of dishwashing makes me feel safe), there is no need to oil your baking tray.
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2 cups white spelt flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/4 cup solid coconut cream
3/4 cup unsweetened plant milk (I always use almond)
Large pinch of natural cane sugar
Preheat the oven to 400F/200C and position a rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place in the refrigerator or freezer to chill while you mix up the dough.
Sift the dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Quickly rub the cream into the flour with your fingers until the pieces are the size of small pebbles; don’t worry if they aren’t uniform in size. Add the milk and stir until just incorporated; the dough will be sticky. Place the dough in the refrigerator to chill for at least 10 minutes, or longer if your oven is not yet preheated. Once the oven is ready, divide the dough into six portions, dropping them at least one inch apart on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the top of each biscuit lightly with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, or until just beginning to brown around the edges and golden on top.
Yield: 6 biscuits
Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes