"HEALTHY" CORNMEAL DROP BISCUITS

6.01.2015



There are some foods that deserve to be in rotation more often than they are. About a month ago, G said he wanted more cornbread. Can't disagree with that. I mean, who doesn't like cornbread? But when you break cornbread down, it's not the healthiest thing in the world, especially when you drown it in honey butter. Not wanting to disappoint my husband, I immediately made a dinner with cornmeal biscuits baked on top to avoid the slathering-in-butter part. The dish was otherworldly. I'm salivating as I'm writing just thinking about it. Still working out the kinks though so stay tuned for that recipe.


Cornbread is easy; biscuits take a bit more care. I really liked the dish I made and biscuits are freaking delicious, but I'm not the biggest fan of cutting butter into things. Waiting for the butter to be extra chilled, cutting it into pea-sized bits, taking all that extra care. It's not so much that I don't like doing it (although I do sort of hate it), I just think I don't want to do it when I read a recipe that involves it. And when searching for a recipe with the goal of making it more often, a dump and stir kind of recipe is more my style.

Drop biscuits are awesome, but most don't achieve that tender flakiness of an old-fashioned biscuit because of the missing pea-sized bits of butter. To get all pastry school on you, what happens when you have the pea bits is that they go in the oven and the water in the butter steams leaving little air pockets which equals tender flakiness. The day after my first test batch, America's Test Kitchen delivered a recipe to my inbox for drop biscuits that combined melted butter with cold milk which seizes the butter back into little bits - genius!! You generally want to avoid that when you make pastries, but in this case it's exactly what you want.


Setting out to make a healthier cornmeal biscuit is straying pretty far from G's cornbread request, but so far there are no complaints. Don't be surprised if you find a version down the road with puréed kale in it (half joking). Seriously, though, I had ground flax leftover from these bars so that was the perfect addition and whole wheat flour was an easy add-in. I feared the first tester, but I actually liked it more. Nuttier and tastier - not necessarily low in fat. So, I guess I can't claim healthy, but I can say healthier, right?

CORNMEAL DROP BISCUITS
~yields 12 biscuits

In test batch #3 of this biscuit I used coconut oil and it worked perfectly. I loved the combo of the mild coconut flavor and cornmeal, but the butter version works better with the aforementioned dish I made. If you're wanting to making it wholly vegan, I've never had an issue with subbing non-dairy milk in most baking recipes, but add 1 tsp of lemon juice or white vinegar to activate the baking soda in lieu of buttermilk. Let me know how it turns out if you go this route! 

2 cups (250 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup (30 grams) flax meal
1/2 cup (90 grams) fine cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, melted and cooled to room temp
1 cup (250 ml) cold buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 375º F. 
Sift all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. 
Combine the melted butter and buttermilk. Stir until the butter forms small clumps. If it doesn't, that means your butter was too hot. If this happens, place the mixture in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes until the butter cools and hardens. Stir before proceeding. 
Combine the wet and dry ingredients, stirring gently just until it is combined taking care not to overmix. 
Spoon roughly 1/4 cup of the batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan until you've used all the batter which should give you 12 biscuits. 
Bake in the oven for ~18-20 minutes, rotating halfway, until the tops are golden brown and the biscuits feel light when lifted.
These biscuits are best eaten freshly baked and cooled. While mine did keep in a tightly covered container for a few days, they weren't nearly as tender and flaky, even after toasting. 

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