I was missing mom's buttermilk biscuits and wondering how I could make them without milk. We eliminated milk from our diet many years ago and keep mostly lactose free. So, I did some research and some experimenting and I finally have the perfect flaky biscuit recipe. Also, I wanted to use the toaster oven, which can be challenging. But, I've figured it out. Thanks for teaching me to bake, Mom!
Soy Buttermilk Biscuits
2 Tablespoons vinegar
Soy or rice milk
1 1/2 cups unbleached or multi-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick very cold butter
Place 2 Tablespoons vinegar in a measuring cup. Add enough soy milk to reach the 3/4 cup line and set aside.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and toss into the dry ingredients. If butter is a problem, you can use lard or margarine, but I recommend real butter. Using a pastry blender or a fork, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the pieces are no larger than a grain of rice. You can also use your fingers.
Stir the soy milk and vinegar mixture and dump all at once into the bowl. Gently mix together, scraping the sides and bottom. Do not overmix. If you are vigorous, the biscuits will be tough. If you concentrate on scraping the sides and bottom until it just comes together, you'll get the right result.
Cover your toaster oven pan with aluminum foil and grease with butter or olive oil. Turn on the toaster oven to 400 degrees F.
Turn the mixture onto a floured board or counter, sprinkle generously with more flour and flour your hands. Knead six times exactly. Just pick it up, smoosh together and put it down six times and no more. Gently form into a rectangle a little smaller than your pan. With a floured knife, cut in two lengthwise and then cut those pieces into thirds. You will have six square biscuits. Use the knife to help scrape the biscuits off the board and gently place in the pan, almost touching.
Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown on the top and immediately brush with butter. Enjoy hot or cold.
Chile Cheese Biscuits
Roast, seed and dice a chile poblano or drain and pat dry a small can of diced green chile. Add to the flour mixture before the buttermilk goes in, with 3/4 cup shredded cheese. Toss until the extra ingredients are coated. You don't want to do this after the buttermilk goes in, because the extra stirring will make the biscuits tough.
I remember my mother telling stories about the Dust Bowl in western Kansas. She was born in Quinter and had many cousins out in that area, especially in Sheridan County. Her stories were very personal. She told how the family survived in that horror and then moved back to Wamego.
I just finished a book called "The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl." It is filled with stories just like mom's, but also with an overview of what caused the Dust Bowl and what FDR did to help the families and start to restore the environment.
If your family lived through the Dust Bowl, you'll want to read this book. It paints a very real picture of drought, famine, sickness and suffering and makes all those "I walked barefoot to school" stories much more understandable.