Whole grain “angel biscuits” to tempt your pallet
Biscuits have been a life-long love of mine. In high school I came in second in a state 4-H bread baking competition with my biscuits. Biscuits are serious items in this home! When my girls were young I made a whopping batch of whole wheat sourdough biscuits almost every weekend. Leftovers became morning toast and school lunch sandwiches. They were delish, but they were not the baking powder biscuits I had perfected in all those growing up years.
Every now and then I would make a batch of those less-than-healthy wonderful biscuits. When we moved to the mountains, 3000 feet higher than I had ever lived, the recipe no longer worked. I switched to Angel Biscuits. Those angels like the altitude. Still not healthy, but so yummy! Put out a bowl of mountain blackberry jam beside a pan of hot biscuits and we were in heaven, for sure!
Slowly, I’ve converted the Angel recipe to more fit our diet specs. Each time I made them, I pushed the envelope a bit closer to the edge. Now the fat and the flour have been totally re-done. No one has turned up their nose. The grandsons have not even noticed.
The texture is much more crumbly than the original Angel biscuits, but the flavor is actually more interesting. The formed biscuits need more time to rise before being baked and they do not rise as much as the originals. I assume this is because the flour is 100% spelt. The gluten in spelt is different than that in regular wheat flour. Gluten is what assists in the rising.
The original recipe calls for 1 cup of shortening. I have substituted butter, coconut oil, and palm shortening, each at different times. The palm shortening gives the best texture while the butter gives the best flavor. Coconut oil and palm shortening must be brought to a soft consistency in a warm environment or you will work way too hard to cut them into the dry ingredients.
So here it is: Born Again Angel Biscuits!
Angel Biscuit Ingredients
- 5 cups spelt flour, freshly ground, if possible
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder, aluminum free
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/3 cup whole cane sugar — we use a rapadura sugar
- 1 cup butter, coconut oil, or palm shortening
- 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 1/2 cups buttermilk, or regular milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar stirred in.
Angel Biscuit Steps
- In a small bowl, soften the yeast in the warm water. Water should be about body temperature. Do not exceed 100 degrees or you may kill the yeast. Yeast needs warmth to grow, just not too much warmth.
- In a larger bowl combine all the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender, make certain they are well combined.
- Using the same pastry blender, work in the butter or other fat until the mixture resembles a course meal.
- Mix the softened yeast mixture into the buttermilk and stir to blend.
- Make a hole in the middle of the dry ingredients.
- Pour the milk-yeast mixture into the hole in the middle of the dry ingredients.
- Using a large spoon, gently combine the wet and dry ingredients. Do not overwork them!
- Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead it lightly about 10 times.
- Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle and then use a large chef’s knife to cut the dough into squares.
- Arrange the squares in a greased baking pan and cover with plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate your biscuits overnight before baking or set them in a warm place to rise for a couple of hours before baking. The air temperature will determine when they are ready for the oven. The little squares should rise to double their original size before heading to the oven.
- Remove the plastic and bake your biscuits at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Watch closely in the last 10 minutes. You want the tops golden brown and crispy.
Enjoy these biscuits hot out of the oven with homemade jam or honey and lots of butter.
To warm up leftover biscuits, split them open and fry in butter. Keep a lid on the skillet to heat the bread all the way through. You may like the leftovers even better than the fresh-from-the-oven variety!