Homemade biscuits sound so wholesome, old-timey, essential. We rarely ate them in my house. Store-bought whole wheat bread was the norm. On weekends we’d sometimes get bagels. But the biscuit…something about it screamed Little House on the Prairie, and my fixation was born.
Fast-forward to 2000 and my first trip to South America. As a vegan, there was little I could eat save for the energy bars that filled half my backpack. The woman who’s home we stayed in made fresh coffee and biscuits every morning. And my very limited Spanish understood her insisting there was not a speck of anything animal-derived in them. I’ve got pretty good radar when it comes to animal ingredients, and they sure tasted vegan to me. I slathered them with jam, the only other real option for breakfast in southern Chile, and a flaky, fruity favorite was born.
My own recipe uses whole wheat flour, unlike my Chilean host, but that’s okay as it’s also probably a bit more like Mrs. Ingalls and the biscuits they made back during the Little House days. The result is a flaky, chewy and super satisfying biscuit fit for any time of the day.
Makes one dozen
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup safflower oil
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other nondairy milk)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour in the oil slowly, mixing with a fork as you go until the mixture is crumbly. Add the milk a little at a time, still stirring with the fork. The dough should become dense much like pie crust dough.
Roll into a ball and set on a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough about 25 times, and then you can either tear the dough off and place on a baking sheet, or roll out the dough with a rolling pin and cut the biscuits out with a cutter or the rim of a glass or jar.
Place the biscuits on a well-oiled cookie sheet and bake on the center rack for 10 to 12 minutes.
When biscuits have risen and are lightly browned, remove from the oven and let cool several minutes. Carefully slice open each biscuit and slather in your favorite preserves. I personally think this is the ultimate use of strawberry or blueberry preserves, but use whatever you favor.
Set the top of the biscuit back onto the jammed bottom and enjoy!
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Image: Stacey Spensley