Hi Vegetarian Carnivores! With the first day of December upon us, I’m sure you are all getting your ducks in line for recipes, ingredients, and cooking plans. It’s no surprise that a perfect southern style biscuit is severely underrated. It has a few humble but mighty ingredients that come together to create the perfect flaky and crumbly biscuit. If you have gone vegan and miss the familiar flavor of buttermilk biscuits, be sure to give these vegan buttermilk biscuits a go. I was so excited to create a replica that tastes so much like the original version.
What are biscuits?
Stay with me for a minute. As someone with an Indian background, I can tell you that there is a definite vocabulary barrier here. For all my Indian heritage readers, what we refer to as biscuits are what Americans call cookies. And what we know as pastries are what Americans refer to as these biscuits.
These biscuits are not sweet- they are more light and savory and flaky and crumbly. If I may nerd out here for a bit (engineer alert!), a little science magic here for you. Making these biscuits requires hard cold chunks of vegan butter to be very lightly incorporated into the flour. The hard chunks are then expanded in the oven during baking. This releases the water and makes it evaporate within the flour, which is what helps “lift” the dough and create the beautiful and airy texture within the biscuit.
If you use room temperature or melted butter and incorporate it fully into the dough so there are no chunks, your biscuits will fall flat on their face and you’ll end up with disappointment instead of biscuits.
Why you’ll love these buttermilk biscuits
Flaky and crumbly, with just a hint of vanilla makes these the perfect side dish for any autumnal gathering. I learned about biscuits pretty late in life (think college) when I truly discovered the joys of buttermilk biscuits. It was flakey, savory, and tasted pretty dang amazing by itself, needing no spreads or condiments. Of course having spreads is an added bonus, but a truly well made biscuit does not require a ton of jam or butter to dress it up.
And that is what we’re making here. A delicious, melt-in-your-mouth savory biscuit that can be
How to make vegan buttermilk biscuits
The name of the game is speed for this recipe. The simple reason is that we need to keep the butter in discrete cold chunks, so that does not really leave you with much time to mull things over and take your time. I would classify this recipe as intermediate, as it requires a bit of a learning curve in handling the butter, avoiding overmixing or over kneading, avoiding developing the gluten, etc.
To be honest, making this recipe gives me a bit of anxiety even now, because I am quite Type A about having uniform mixtures, which is good for cakes, cookies, brownies, etc. But for these biscuits you cannot have uniform texture, and you have to work fast so that the butter doesn’t melt from the heat of your hand or rolling pin before getting it into the oven.
The easy part of this recipe is the ingredients. Literally nothing too fancy or bougie and stuff that you most probably have already. That is what makes this such an easy addition to the Thanksgiving menu.
You’re going to pulse extra cold hard butter into flour until just roughly combined with chunks of butter still present. I have found that 10-12 quick pulses does the trick for me. Then you’re adding your vegan buttermilk, which is simply plant milk + some acidic agent. I like apple cider vinegar, but lemon juice or citric acid will also work to curdle. Side note on the plant milk: I have found that the best plant milks to use for vegan buttermilk are the creamy ones. Think oatmilk, pea milk, soymilk, as opposed to almond milk type consistencies. I get better results with the creamier milks.
Using a spatula very roughly combine the mixture and pour it out into a mat. Using the rolling pin roll into a 1 inch thick sheet. Fold lengthwise and widthwise to create a quarter circle and repeat. Repeat 2 more times and end up with a 1 inch thick roughly rolled out sheet. Using any circular cutter, cut pieces of dough out and lay on a baking sheet. Try not to twist when making the circles. Brush with plant milk, which is your vegan egg wash. Bake off and cool on a rack.
What you will need (Equipment)
Food processor- I usually don’t include a section for “needed equipment” when I write recipes. However, due to the slight haste of working with extra cold butter for this recipe, I highly recommend a food processor. Some people swear by mixing the butter in with their hand into the flour, but that just melts the butter faster and it is way too variable in its results.
Rolling pin- You will also need a rolling pin or a cylindrical silicone or wooden piece. This is also important because this is how we are going to create the layers for our biscuits to get that flaky and uneven crumbly effect.
Baking mat- A silicone baking mat is highly helpful, but not absolutely critical for this recipe. This is because when you roll your dough out to create the layers you will need a good amount of room to work with, on a surface that is easy to clean.
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup vegan milk
- 2 tbsp vegan milk, for brushing
- 4 tbsp vegan butter, very cold
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cube butter into rough chunks and set in the freezer while you complete steps 3-4.
- Mix apple cider vinegar with plant milk and let it sit for 5 minutes to curdle into buttermilk.
- Using your food processor, pulse your flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. About 10 pulses should be enough.
- Add in very cold chunks of butter into food processor and continue pulsing 10-15 more times until the butter is distrubuted through the flour mixture, but still in discrete chunks.
- In a large mixing bowl, pour the flour mixture and combine with vegan buttermilk with a fork. Mix until just barely combined.
- Dust a surface with flour (I like my silicone baking mat) and pour the dough out.
- Using a rolling pin, quickly roll the dough lightly until it is one inch thick. Then fold dough over into 1/4 and roll out again. Once you have repeated the fold+roll process 3 times, the dough is ready for the oven.
- Using a sharp round cookie cutter or steel shaper, cut out circles of dough. Try not to twist the ends when removing as this can ruin the layers you just created and deflate your biscuit.
- Lay them on a baking tray, touching each other. I can’t figure it out yet, but for some reason keeping them this way helps them rise.
- Brush with plant milk and bake for 15-20 minutes. It always takes me a little on the longer side. Keep the oven closed if possible when checking the progress, as opening the oven can rapidly cool it, and affect your baking process.
- Take out and cool on a cooling rack. You know you have a great biscuit if you can peel it down the middle and see all the layers.