Thursday, November 29, 2012
Heidi's Seed Crusted Amaranth Biscuits...
More and more lately I find myself interested in cooking and baking more with whole grain flour types that aren’t wheat. I don’t have a problem with wheat, or a gluten-intolerance but I like the idea of expanding my palate, and there is such a wealth of different kinds of flour out there that it seems almost criminal not to try them out. Not to mention that switching up your flours keeps things interesting.
My pantry is well stocked with a variety of flours, all of them organic. I have unbleached all-purpose, whole wheat, whole wheat pastry, white rice flour, soy flour, almond flour, buckwheat flour, amaranth flour, and several starches like potato, tapioca and corn. Despite having these things I rarely use the non-wheat flours, and so I didn’t really know what to use nor what to make. Then one afternoon I was sitting at my desk flipping through Heidi Swanson’s cook book “Super Natural Cooking” which is a book I never use and found total inspiration in her recipe for Seed Crusted Amaranth Biscuits. The recipe isn’t gluten-free - which is fine for me but not for those who may have a gluten-intolerance, - but it does utilize amaranth flour which I was really interested in trying out. I also really liked the idea of a seedy biscuit. I love seeds, and anyway I can include more of them into my cooking is a good enough reason for me to try. I particularly love seeds in bread, which probably stems from my childhood. As my mom always makes homemade bread - and it’s the best - and her bread recipes usually include seeds of some kind.
So anyway I decided to give these biscuits a go. It’s an easy enough recipe to veganize just swap butter for Earth Balance, Milk for your favorite non-dairy milk, and leave out the egg-white. The egg is really not necessary anyway as it’s used for a wash to coat the tops of the biscuits before sprinkling on the seeds. You can achieve the same effect by brushing them with a little melted Earth Balance which is what I did. For the seed mixture I used a combination of poppy, brown sesame, black sesame, and nigella seeds. Nigella seeds are another thing I’ve had in my pantry for a long time and never used, but I’m so glad I took Heidi’s suggestion and tried them in this recipe because they give the biscuits a nice subtle onion flavor which I loved. Also because I only had about 3/4 C left of unsweetened almond milk, I also ended up using about a 1/2 C of Vanilla Almond milk and making up the remaining difference with water. I thought this might make the biscuits sweet, or have them taste like vanilla but it didn't do either. At least not that we could tell. They certainly didn't taste like vanilla, and neither of us found them to be sweet. They were very savory, but because vanilla almond milk is richer then unsweetened almond milk perhaps it did something subtle to the overall flavor or the texture.
Though these biscuits smelt like heaven when they were baking, my husband was rather skeptical about them when he saw them. My husband loves his biscuits, and has always been a ‘traditional biscuit’ kind of guy, not to mention the fact that he’s not as over the moon about seeds as I am. Yet he sat down with a plate of three earth balanced smeared biscuits and began to eat. I waited with baited breath as he took his first bite, and then his second. I watched his facial features change and contort and was ready to call the experiment a fail when he suddenly declared that “These are the best biscuits I’ve ever eaten!” Wow! High praise from him indeed. I took a bite of my own biscuit and had to agree. That’s not to say that we’ll never return to eating the regular kind of biscuit again, but it does inspire my tastebuds to make these more and more often, they are just to good to pass up, and way to good not to at least try.
This recipe used whole what flour and whole wheat pastry flour in addition to the amaranth flour and at first you might think that would make these pretty dense but they are surprisingly light and fluffy, even flaky. They are super moist which I love and have a really great well rounded flavor, thanks both to the flour and the seeds. These biscuits really are a joy to eat, and when you eat them you really feel as though you’re putting something good into your body, like you’re fueling it properly for the day. They’re also very filling thanks to their whole-grainyness. If you have this book you should definitely try these out, and if you don’t have the book it may be worth checking out just for these biscuits alone. I’m certainly glad I gave this cook book a second look, because it’s reminded me that just because a book is vegetarian instead of vegan doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some recipes worth trying.