AHEM, is this thing on? Good.
Let me just step on this soapbox for a moment and share an important public service announcement brought to you by the People Against Sad/Crappy Biscuits Out of an Exploding Can.
Times have changed, I know. You’re tired. You work hard day in and day out to provide for yourself and your family. By the weekend, you just want relax or catch up on the thousand things you didn’t have time to do during the week.
You’d much rather just watch someone make biscuits on tv and daydream about it, or better yet, pop open a can of biscuits and bake them for breakfast. The idea of baking biscuits from scratch sounds like too much work. But in reality, it might take you a mere 15 minutes to whip up the most incredible buttery, flaky, and flavorful biscuit dough that any self-respecting biscuit lover would approve.
Look, I hate guilt trips, so this is not an attempt to give you one more thing to feel bad about.
But just consider for a moment the fact that we are relying on food corporations to dictate what we put into our bodies…and a lot of times it’s not even food or something human beings should be consuming. From hydrogenated oils to chemical-laden flours, biscuits from a can are really not a great idea.
I fully realize too that even a proper southern biscuit isn’t a health food. But today, we are reinventing the holy biscuit into something that can be transformed with the power of a sourdough starter and nutritionally dense and flavorful spelt flour.
So let’s do this, shall we?!
Oh, and by the way…if you use butter, but can’t drink lactose without leaving a trail of methane gas everywhere you go, there is an easy non-dairy buttermilk substitute included.
WHAT TYPE OF FAT DO YOU USE FOR BISCUITS?
This is a question that you will get different answers to depending on who you ask. Many biscuit aficionados will proclaim that a mixture of half shortening (for flakiness) and half butter (for flavor) is the perfect balance. Some only use shortening, while others use lard exclusively.
So what do I use? Butter..that’s it, and I couldn’t be happier with the results!
MIXING BISCUIT DOUGH
The most important thing to consider when making a flaky and tender biscuit is how you cut the butter or fat in the dough. Although the first photo of this post shows a sourdough culture mixed in with the flours, I don’t recommend mixing it that way (that was mainly for styling reasons).
Rather, mix the dry ingredients together first, then add in really cold butter that has been grated or diced into tiny chunks. I used a grater because it’s really quick, and it helps to make the dough flaky. You simply rub the butter into flour with the tips of your fingers, or a fork or pastry cutter. Mix in the buttermilk, yogurt and the sourdough culture until everything is just combined so as not to overwork the dough.
Note: Your sourdough culture that you use can be unfed and it doesn’t have to be really ripe. We aren’t concerned with creating a structure as much as using the sourdough to neutralize phytic acid. If you have stalled your starter in the fridge, this is a great time to use the discarded starter from a feeding. See recipe notes for instruction.
So what if you don’t have buttermilk in the fridge? No worries, just simply measure regular milk and add 1 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar and stir. Let it sit for a few minutes until it starts to bubble or curdle.
For a dairy-free buttermilk sub, simply take almond milk and add 1 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar. Stir and let it bubble or curdle for a few minutes. You can also sub dairy-free yogurt with regular yogurt too!
A LOW GLUTEN ALTERNATIVE
If you are trying your best to only consume ancient versions of wheat, then I have a great trick for you! This recipe calls for mainly spelt flour, but also a bit of all purpose flour for a lighter texture. If you prefer not to eat modern wheat, then substitute the all purpose flour with a gluten-free blend. My favorite is Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour.
When the dough comes together, it should look like the photo above or possibly even messier, which is fine because you don’t want to over work the dough. Because we have added a sourdough culture it’s going to develop more of a tender bread-like structure. In order to slow this process down but still give the sourdough time transform the ingredients and make the vitamins and minerals more bioavailable, we need to ferment it in the fridge. Let the dough ferment for at least 3-5 hours. Or for the convenience of baking the biscuits first thing in the morning, let ferment overnight in the fridge and then cut and bake them in the morning.
I tried it both ways and I was surprised at how tender the biscuits were after having fermented overnight! This is obviously a perfect solution for a weekend morning breakfast.
BISCUIT MAKING TOOLS
- I used my egg ring you see above to cut the biscuits. I love that I can fry an egg with it too!
- Or you can use some cute biscuit cutters to do the job.
- Pastry cutters make cutting butter into biscuit or pie dough mess-free.
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Oh, just look at those tender biscuits! That peach jam was just the perfect sweet topping to counterbalance the earthy aroma and flavor.
Do you generally eat biscuits or are you intimidated by the process? Leave a comment below and tell me about your biscuit knowledge. Are you in for baking these sourdough spelt biscuits? Tell me all about your experience too!
Bon Appétit Ya’ll,
Sourdough Spelt Biscuits
We are reinventing the traditional southern biscuit with a sourdough culture and earthy, aromatic spelt flour for an unforgettable biscuit!
- 3 1/2 cups Spelt Flour (preferably organic) 555 grams
- 1 1/2 cups All purpose flour (preferably organic) or a Gluten free flour blend 216 grams
- 2 Tbsp Baking powder 35 grams
- 1 tsp Salt 6 grams
- 8 Tbsp Butter 112 grams
- 1/2 cup Sourdough starter/culture, see note 117 grams (weight varies if using whole grain or white flours)
- 2 1/4 cups Buttermilk, plus more for brushing (see note for buttermilk sub or dairy-free option) see recipe notes for substitutions
- 1/2 cup Yogurt or dairy-free yogurt
Grate the cold butter or cut into small cubes and place in the freezer while you measure the other ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix the flours, salt, and baking powder together.
Cut the butter into the dry ingredients by using the tips of your fingers to smear them together or use a pastry cutter or fork. The mixture should look crumbly.
Add the yogurt, buttermilk, and sourdough culture. Mix with a spoon (you might need to use your hands too) until the ingredients just come together. Stop mixing after this so you don't over-develop the gluten. The mixture should be messy and not a smooth ball of dough.
Cover with plastic wrap and let ferment in the fridge for at least 3-5 hours or overnight. Overnight is a great solution for a weekend morning breakfast.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Remove the dough from the bowl and lay on a floured surface. Pat it out with your hands in a circle. Flour a biscuit cutter well and cut into biscuits.
Place on a parchment-lined sheet pan and brush the tops with buttermilk. Bake for 14-17 minutes or until the biscuits are set and have a bit of color on top. It's better to under bake them and check one for doneness. Biscuits become bricks if over-baked!!
For the sourdough starter:
If you feed your starter everyday, then you want to use the starter that you discard during a feeding for this recipe. If you stall your starter in the fridge, take it out and feed it 100 grams flour, 100 grams water, and 100 grams starter. Let it ferment for 4-12 hours then add 1/2 cup of it to your dough. You don't have to worry about it being really bubbly because we aren't concerned with creating a stable gluten structure.
For a buttermilk sub:
If you don't have buttermilk, measure regular milk and add 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar and let curdle or bubble for a few minutes.
For a dairy-free buttermilk, take almond milk (for the best flavor) and add 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar and let bubble or curdle for a few minutes.
For a low gluten alternative:
This recipe calls for mainly spelt flour and a bit of all purpose flour. If you prefer to only eat ancient forms of wheat and not consume all purpose flour, you can substitute the AP flour with your favorite gluten free flour blend. The spelt flour will give the biscuits structure and the gluten free flour will create a tender crumb. I've tried it this way and it works beautifully!