Gluten-free baking can be complicated, fraught with trial and error (emphasis on the error) and frustrating. I am happy to report that making gluten-free biscuits need not be as difficult as some would have you believe.I've found that gums such as xanthan and guar are unnecessary in gluten-free biscuits; I just use some type of gluten-free flour and a starch mixed with baking powder and salt. I like my biscuits white and fluffy so I prefer superfine white or brown rice flour, but if you want to use another type, such as millet, sorghum, or quinoa, then go right ahead. For starch, I prefer to use either tapioca or potato, but you could also use cornstarch or arrowroot powder. You can also use a combination of starches.
After you pick the type of flour and starch you want to use, it's simply a matter of adding some fat and liquid. Those depend on your palate and dietary needs. Personally, I like to use butter for my fat and milk for my liquid, but a vegetable-based spread, shortening, or even bacon fat and a dairy-free milk work well, too. Just make sure your fat and liquid are cold.
One important thing to keep in mind is to use a light hand—don’t overwork the dough. The less you work it, the lighter and flakier the biscuit. And when you add the fat to the flour, make sure you keep some larger clumps in there for a flaky texture.
When it comes to adding the liquid, start with less than the recipe calls for and add just enough to form the mixture into a dough. (Various factors like humidity can affect how much is needed.) You may even need a tad more than the recipe calls for.
You can roll and cut out the dough or drop it by the spoonful onto a baking sheet. I prefer to pat it out with my hands rather than rolling it with a pin. It's easy and means there's one less thing to wash.
Get ready for some flaky, light biscuits warm from the oven and ready for a slathering of jam.
Makes about 12
1½ cups superfine white or brown rice flour, plus more for rolling
¾ cup tapioca or potato starch (not potato flour)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
6 Tbsp cold fat (such as butter, vegetable-based spread or shortening), cut into small pieces
¾ cup milk (any kind including dairy free)
1. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicon baking mat.
2. Whisk together the flour, starch, baking powder, and salt. Cut the fat into the flour using either a pastry cutter or two knives or by rubbing the fat into the flour with your fingers. Add the liquid, starting with a ½ cup and gradually adding a little more at a time, mixing until the dough comes together.
3. Put a little flour on a work surface and dump out the dough. Knead 3 to 4 times, then either roll or pat it out to about ½-inch thick. Cut the dough into biscuits using a 2 ½-inch cookie cutter. You can gently reform the dough to cut more biscuits. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.
After 15 years of eating and cooking gluten free, Carol Kicinski founded Simply...Gluten Free to educate and inspire those with celiac disease or intolerances to gluten, dairy, peanuts, grain, and beyond, and to create a community of gluten-free bloggers around the globe. Her cookbook, Simply...Gluten Free Desserts, contains 150 recipes for gluten-free cupcakes, cookies, pies, sweet breads, puddings, cakes, and ice creams.