I’ve had some pretty awful whole wheat biscuits in my time, so I felt it was my duty to develop a recipe that made whole wheat biscuits that weren’t only edible but as good if not better than standard white flour biscuits. This recipe is the result and I hope you’ll agree that they are especially good as whole wheat biscuits go.
I’ve used milk plus vinegar as the liquid in this recipe. You could use buttermilk instead, if you have any handy. You’ll need a tiny bit more than 1/3-cup, maybe 1/3-cup plus 1-tablespoon of buttermilk, or about 6-tablespoons total. The sugar doesn’t make the biscuits sweet, it just makes them taste good. You can leave it out if you like, although it does take out the bitterness that whole wheat flour can develop if it isn’t freshly ground.
Whole Wheat Biscuits
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons margarine
- 1/3-cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- a little extra flour for dusting
First stir your whole wheat flour. Stick a fork or spoon down into the bag or storage tub and stir it around to fluff up the flour. If you’re flour is freshly ground this usually isn’t necessary. But if you’re flour is store-bought or has been sitting for a while then this will help measure the flour accurately. Usually I don’t bother with details of this nature because I’m more of a rough and ready type of cook, but for this particular recipe I find it makes a world of difference in the finished biscuit.
After fluffing your flour measure 1-cup of it and place it in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt, baking powder, and powdered sugar. Mix well so the salt and leavening are evenly distributed. Add the margarine. Using your fingers or a fork mash the fat into the flour until the mixture is somewhat crumbly. Don’t work the mixture too much, you still want some lumps the size of lentils or split peas. Overworking at this point will give you tougher biscuits so use a light hand and stop before the mixture is too fine.
Next measure the milk. Pour the vinegar into the milk and stir it with a fork or chopstick. Allow the milk to sit for a moment, until it thickens and curdles. Now add it to the flour and stir to make a soft dough. It will be a little sticky. Dust the dough gently with a little extra flour. Turn the dough out onto your counter and knead it 5 to 10 times. No more, no less. This makes for fluffier biscuits. Too much extra kneading at this point will activate the protein in the wheat, called gluten, and make the biscuits tough instead of tender. Not enough kneading will give the baked biscuits a slightly pasty texture and of course make it difficult to roll the biscuits out because the dough won’t be sticking together.
After kneading pat the dough out to about 3/4-inch thick. Cut it with a biscuit cutter or clean cup. Water chestnut cans with both ends removed make lovely, large, sandwich-sized biscuits. Tomato paste cans with both ends removed make perfect tiny biscuits. Soup-cans make average sized biscuits. When I make large biscuits, like water-chestnut-can-size, I roll the biscuits thinner, about 1/2-inch thick. This makes them bake faster and keeps the insides from being doughy.
Arrange the cut biscuits on a baking sheet or in a 9-inch cake pan. Bake at 450° for 10 to 12 minutes. The biscuits should be well-risen and golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve hot.
For fancier biscuits brush the tops with a little melted butter either before or after baking. This makes them greasier and prettier.
Makes about 6 biscuits, depending on size.
These biscuits taste best hot but may be reheated if desired. Wrap the leftovers in foil. Sprinkle 1-teaspoon of water in the foil with the biscuits. Seal the foil and bake the biscuits at 400° for about 15 to 20-minutes. Remove from the oven, unwrap and serve hot.
Another option is to steam the biscuits like you would steam vegetables. They will usually get all the way hot in under 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them so the water doesn’t boil away and so the biscuits don’t get too soggy.
Cathy-Jean’s Favorite Butter Biscuits
Cathy-Jean is my sister. These are her favorite biscuits.
While preparing the biscuit dough do the following–Place 2 or 3-tablespoons of margarine in your baking pan. Place it in the oven while it preheats. You want the margarine to melt. Remove the pan when the butter is liquid. Allow it to cool briefly. Cut the biscuits small, using a tomato paste can. Lay each biscuit in the melted butter and then flip it over so both sides are buttery. Push the biscuit to the other side of the pan and continue until all the biscuits are buttered on both sides and snuggled up against one another in the pan. Bake as directed. Serve hot with any bean dish. These are my sister’s favorite biscuits. Make them and you’ll see why. Perfect for holiday fare.