Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tea "Biscuits"

Ah, one of the joys of being an American is that a "biscuit" brings to mind something that you use as a side dish -- to pretty much any meal. You can have gravy on it (sorry, not my thing) or wedge a sausage patty in it. You can put it as a side to a dinner of meat (or not) and greens. You can spread jam or honey on it. You can do a lot of things to a biscuit. And, depending on where in the country you live, biscuits might be fluffy (Southern influence) or thinner and crispier (Northern influence).


But, Americans don't usually hear biscuit and think "a sweet."

These tea biscuits are definitely more like cookies, if you're an American reader. They're sweet (yet have protein because of the g-bean flour!), and very versatile. The original recipe comes from the Flying Apron Bakery Cookbook, and calls for placing beautiful little berries in the center of each cookie. That's yummy (and frozen blueberries work great, btw). But you can also season these with sweet spices and create something that's (still) totally appropriate for eating with a mug of hot tea (or coffee), any time of day.

I make my tea biscuits much smaller than the original recipe recommends (it recommends baseball sized, mine are closer to golf-ball sized -- but then, I'm also not selling them in a bakery). A thought about this: If you're making them for a fundraiser or something along those lines, definitely make them big. I didn't have to make much of an adjustment to the baking time, so you should only need to leave them in for a few extra minutes. 

I like that these come together pretty quickly (though they do want to hang out in the refrigerator for a few hours -- you can make the dough in advance and just make a few at a time this way), but they will leave your hands sticky (something I'm less thrilled about). I recommend making the dough as listed below, and then modifying it however you'd like (suggestions also below, probably you don't want to try all the variations at the same time).

Tea Biscuits
2 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups, plus 1 tablespoon garbanzo bean flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup canola oil
Scant 1 cup cane sugar
1 cup soy milk
Berries (optional)

Additions (probably only try 1-2 at a time, based on preference):
1/2-1 cup mini vegan gf chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life)
4-5 drops pure orange oil (a little goes a long, long way -- and orange essence is not the same thing)
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup minced, candied ginger

Combine the brown rice flour, garbanzo bean flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl (or if you have a stand mixer, in that), beat together the canola oil and cane sugar until well mixed. Stir in the flour mixture and the soy milk a little at a time, alternating, until well mixed. Chill* the dough at least three hours (it can go less, but believe me, you want that garbanzo bean flour to hydrate).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place golf ball sized balls of dough on a cookie sheet that has been greased or covered with parchment paper, about 1 inch apart (these don't spread much). Lightly flatten the balls with the palm of your hand. If you're using berries, press 2-3 into the top of each cookie.

Bake until golden and firm to the touch, about 20-24 minutes.

Stir in the mix-in to some (or all) of the dough before you let it rest in the refrigerator. If you're only making a few cookies and want to try out one of these options, I definitely recommend reducing the amount of ingredient you're choosing to mix in. You don't want to overpower the delicate flavors in these tea biscuits.

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