In the past few years I've been experimenting with baking using ingredients that are actually good for you, unlike the usual white wheat flour (a.k.a. wallpaper paste) which has next to NO food value and is actually bad for just about everybody on the planet, and not just for the high gluten and carb content. Oops, almost went on a "white food" tirade there. Anyway... I've been having good results in the scone, biscuit, cake, and cookie departments, and have decided to start sharing my results with you, the viewers at home.
Why bake with anything but wheat flour? How about because if you put it in your mouth it should be actual FOOD, people! Seriously, we are what we eat, in more ways than one. Remember "an apple a day keeps the doctor away?". Well, it's more than a trite truism, it's God's own truth. Why is diabetes and heart disease so rampant in our (mostly Western) society today? Because we eat GARBAGE! Processed wheat, sugars, and cow derived dairy products (un-cultured) are a major contributor to a general decline in health over the last hundred years. Stop it! Eat whole, raw, unadulterated (un-processed, -genetically altered, -over-hybridized) food and reap the benefits! Ack...inadvertant tirade. Sorry.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled program...
Biscuits. What's not to like? Unless you're getting them from out of a cardboard tube. No matter how cute that little pasty doughy mascot is, those biscuits will never hold up against anything you can make from scratch. Not only do they have a funny aftertaste, but, nutritionally speaking, they are approximately equivalent to coating your insides with wall putty, only with more net carbs. Modern wheat flour is a tool of Satan. You know why it has such long shelf life? It's the same reason so many top brands of flour say "enriched": they have to put a few things back in there because they processed all of the actual nutrition out of it. For those of you who saw "Supersize Me", this is the baking ingredient equivalent of a McBurger: it doesn't decompose because it's not food.
My answer? Get in your time machine and journey back to a place before over-processed nutritionless baking ingredients. No time machine, you say? Just dart down to your local health food store, co-op, or big grocery store that carries tons of cool things. For me, here in western Washington, it's Central Market. We don't have a Trader Joe's on the peninsula...yet (hear the big hint, Corporate Joe?)
My alternative to wheat is spelt (not to be confused with "smelt", which is a small fish and will net you something altogether different in the oven). Spelt is basically a pre-hybridization, primitive wheat. It's higher in protein, lower in gluten (which many people are sensitive or allergic to), and higher in fiber. I supplement this with other "flours" to enhance the texture of whatever I'm making, because, on it's own, it can be too coarse. Following is my recipe for baking powder biscuits, which I test drove in two different batches yesterday. My evaluation: yum! Fluffy, tasty, and never pasty (like the tube type). Good hot or cold, with jam or under stew, try them out!
Time Machine Biscuits
1 cup shortening (if you can get the 0-Transfat kind, so much the better)
3 cups white spelt flour
1/2 cup whole spelt flour
1/2 cup rice flour
2 Tablespoons sugar (I use 1 T Splenda or a dollop of agave nectar, which is healthier)
6 tsp baking powder (adjust up if first batch isn't as fluffy as you like)
1 tsp salt (use less if you increase baking powder)
1 1/2 cups soy or rice milk or cultured milk product (cow's milk is for baby cows, humans are all allergic to some degree or other)
Oven to 450 F. Cut shortening in to dry ingredients, add "milk" a bit at a time, stirring by hand until combined. There will be lumps. Knead on floured board ten times or so to even out texture. Pat out flat and use biscuit or other round cutter to cut out. Bake on ungreased sheet for 10-13 min or until just browned. Makes about 24 with a 2" cutter.
Next up: scones!