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Easy Frugal Gourmet Biscuits

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Easy Frugal Gourmet Biscuits

Jeff Smith, aka the Frugal Gourmet, said that these biscuits are so easy that “if you are still making biscuits from a can, I am ashamed of you!” He pleads… “please don’t use instant biscuit doughs”.

You can watch him make biscuits here. This super simple method came from “Mrs. Field in Arkansas”.

Gotta say… he is right. It is so easy to make these biscuits. There are only a few ingredients and you can even make those few things healthier!

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When Jeff Smith was making these biscuits, the wheat flour he used was not the same grain we have available today. If you prefer, you can take this basic method and substitute an organic flour, or an ancient grain – ratios may need slight adjustment if you substitute grains.

Instead of vegetable shortening, you can use coconut oil, not melted. In this recipe, I would opt for a cheaper flavorless coconut oil. Save the good stuff for another recipe. And if you do not have buttermilk on hand, use whole milk with a splash of lemon. OR a vegan milk with a splash of lemon.

You can see the second half of this Frugal Gourmet episode, when the biscuits come out of the oven here. To follow is the Frugal Gourmet method.

Biscuit Method

Preheat oven to 500º. To a cast iron skillet, add about a tablespoon of fat (coconut oil or shortening for the original recipe). Place the cast iron pan into the oven to heat while you mix your dough.

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Combine dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Baking soda works to counteract the acid in the buttermilk. You can do this with a vegan buttermilk too!

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Add fat (cold coconut oil or shortening for the original recipe), and cut it in with a fork or pastry cutter, until it is mixed thoroughly and looks like sand.

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Add liquid (buttermilk or vegan milk with lemon), and quickly mix to bring ingredients together.

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Do not overmix the dough. You can knead it with just 3 or 4 folds of the dough. Overworking the dough will cause gluten to develop and will not yield a tender pretty biscuit.

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At this point, you can quickly roll out the dough and cut it into 6 equal round biscuits. Or, if you are wither in a hurry, or do not need pretty round biscuits, just divide into 6 pieces and allow them to stay rustic.

Place biscuits into the hot cast iron pan and bake for 10 minutes, or until they are done and golden brown.

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Crowd Pleasers.

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Frugal Gourmet (aka Jeff Smith) Basic Biscuit

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup, plus 2 T all-purpose flour (preferably organic)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt (1/2 t)
  • 2 Tbsp crisco (or cold coconut oil – see notes below)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk – see vegan and whole milk options below
  • optional: fresh lemon juice, if buttermilk is not available

Biscuit Method

Preheat oven to 500º. To a cast iron skillet, add about a tablespoon of fat (coconut oil or shortening for the original recipe). Place the cast iron pan into the oven to heat while you mix your dough.

Combine dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add fat (cold coconut oil or shortening for the original recipe), and cut it in with a fork or pastry cutter, until it is mixed thoroughly and looks like sand. Add liquid (buttermilk or vegan milk with lemon), and quickly mix to bring ingredients together. Do not overmix the dough. You can knead it with just 3 or 4 folds of the dough. Overworking the dough will cause gluten to develop and will not yield a tender pretty biscuit.

At this point, you can quickly roll out the dough and cut it into 6 equal round biscuits. Or, if you are either in a hurry, or do not need pretty round biscuits, just divide into 6 pieces and allow them to stay rustic.

Place biscuits into the hot cast iron pan and bake for 10 minutes, or until they are done and golden brown.

Notes:

  • Don’t have buttermilk? 1/2 cup whole milk, plus 1/2 T lemon juice makes buttermilk. Allow mixture to sit and thicken for about 5-10 minutes. A little curdling will not hurt the biscuits.
  • Vegan option: 1/2 cup milk of your choice, plus 1/2 T lemon juice makes vegan buttermilk. Allow mixture to sit and thicken for about 5-10 minutes. A little curdling will not hurt the biscuits.
  • Cast Iron – If you do not have a cast iron skillet, you can use a cookie sheet or another pan. Cast iron is optimal for even cooking.
  • Coconut oil – for this recipe, I prefer a cheaper coconut oil with less flavor. The really good quality coconut oils will give you a coconut flavored biscuit. If that is what you are going for, fine! If not, you can get away with the cheap stuff here – flavor-wise.

Enjoy!

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