These dairy free biscuits without buttermilk are light, flaky, and oh so delicious! Smear of jam, a drizzle of honey, or cover in sausage gravy.
However, they are replace biscuits that are made with milk and are lacking that tang you get from buttermilk biscuits.
Because of this I decided to make these biscuits without buttermilk but still using a dairy free buttermilk substitute instead.
My instructions guide you to make your own dairy free buttermilk using your preferred dairy free milk.
HISTORY OF BISCUITS
Early European settlers in the United States brought with them a simple, easy style of cooking. It was usually based on ground wheat and warmed with gravy as a source of cheap nutrition. This was the foundation for biscuits.
The biscuit emerged as its own food in the early 1800s as a cheap addition to meals. It had the benefit of not requiring yeast.
At this point in time, bread was made only once a week. Also, yeast was a byproduct of making beer commonly known as emptins.
So, if you lived in a city and close to a brewery you had relatively easy access to it. However, if you were not so lucky, it was difficult to attain or you had to try to make some version of it at home.
Even once panned yeast was created, by the turn of the century it was still not easy to acquire.
With due to the lack of yeast, beaten biscuits, or sea biscuits as they are known in New England, were developed. They were similar to hardtack.
These biscuits were beaten and folded to incorporate air into the dough which expanded when heated in the oven causing the biscuit to rise.
They were beaten for anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes using a rolling pin, hammer, side of an ax, or handle of a musket.
These biscuits were eaten with gravy and it wasn’t long before biscuits and gravy was created.
Then, with commercial baking powder becoming available in the middle of the century it made the fluffy biscuit we know today possible.
WHAT IS BUTTERMILK?
Originally, buttermilk was the liquid left behind after churning butter out of cultured cream.
Traditionally, the milk was left to sit to allow the cream and milk to separate.
During this time, naturally occurring lactic acid-producing bacteria in the milk fermented it. This facilitates the butter churning process.
Modern buttermilk is made by adding lactic acid bacteria to milk, which ferments it, making it tangier and thicker than regular milk.
Is buttermilk necessary for biscuits?
Actually it is not. If you don’t want to use buttermilk in biscuits or simply don’t have it, you can replace it with milk, dairy free milk, or water.
However, if you want that tang, you’ll want to make a buttermilk or dairy free buttermilk replacement or at least add a little lemon juice or vinegar to water.
HOW TO MEASURE FLOUR AND OTHER DRY INGREDIENTS
Using a dry measuring cup, scoop ingredients from the bag or spoon them into the cup.
Next, level off the ingredient by removing the excess with an upside-down butter knife.
The one exception to this is brown sugar. Brown sugar should be packed down, and then any excess should be scraped off as well.
DRY VS LIQUID MEASURING CUP
Ever wonder why measuring spoons often come with a set of measuring cups? I used to. I didn’t see why we needed a set when we could have one large measuring cup.
After a quick search, I had my answer. I discovered that the large measuring cup is used for liquids, whereas the set is used for dry ingredients.
As it turns out, if you try to measure dry ingredients with a liquid cup, the measurements get messed up.
First, you pour the flour or cocoa in, next you shake it around to get it level, and then you add more.
By shaking it, you are causing the powder to settle, and when you add more, you end up using more than called for.
WHY SIFT FLOUR and Other Powder Ingredients
There are a number of benefits to sifting flour and other ingredients like cocoa:
It removes any unwanted debris and you can get a more accurate measurement than when packed tightly in a bag.
It also removes any lumps that can get into the batter and be hard to break up later, or be missed altogether before baking.
If you sift the powdered ingredients together, it helps combine them and mix more evenly with other dry ingredients like sugar.
BAKING WITH OIL
In general, oil in baked goods makes for a superior texture than those made with butter.
Oil cakes tend to bake up taller with a better crumb. They also stay moist and tender far longer than recipes made with butter.
Furthermore, since oil is lighter than butter, the texture of oil cakes is lighter too.
Also, given that oil is 100% fat while most American butter is 15% water, it creates a more tender crumb.
This is due to the fact that the extra water strengthens the gluten, resulting in a crumb that’s more dense.
Which Type Of Oil to Use
I use neutral oils like canola oil, safflower oil, and vegetable oil. However, it’s not unheard of for oils with stronger flavors like olive oil or coconut oil to be used.
If using olive oil, I recommend using pure olive oil for its milder flavor and higher smoking point.
Baking with Oil Conversion Chart
If you want to convert your butter recipes to oil recipes, check out my baking with oil – butter to oil conversion chart.
BAKING POWDER VS BAKING SODA
I’ve had a number of comments asking me questions about baking soda and baking powder.
I’ve also noticed that if the wrong one is used, things don’t come out as they should.
Using baking soda instead of baking powder can give your recipe a terrible metallic taste, while using baking powder instead of baking soda leaves your baked goods looking flat.
Baking soda is a leavening agent, which means it helps things rise.
It does this by creating carbon dioxide when it reacts to an acid, such as cream of tartar, lemon juice, yogurt, buttermilk, cocoa, and vinegar.
When the carbon dioxide is released, it causes the familiar texture and crumb in pancakes, cakes, quick breads, soda bread, and other baked and fried foods.
Baking soda works well with sourdough because sourdough is acidic. When combined, it makes a lighter product with a less acidic taste, since baking soda is alkaline.
A good rule of thumb is to use around 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per 1 cup of flour.
Baking powder is also a leavening agent and it’s a mixture of baking soda, cream of tartar, and sometimes cornstarch.
Most baking powder sold is double-acting. This means that the leavening occurs in two steps.
The first time it’s activated is when baking powder gets wet, which is why you cannot prepare some batters ahead of time to bake later.
The second time is when the baking powder is exposed to heat. This happens when the batter is being baked or fried.
Since baking powder already contains an acid, it’s most often used when a recipe does not call for an additional acidic ingredient or too little of one.
A good rule of thumb is to use around 1 teaspoon of baking powder per 1 cup of flour.
WHY SOME RECIPES CALL FOR BOTH
Some recipes call for both baking powder and baking soda when the carbon dioxide created from the acid and baking soda is not enough to leaven the volume of batter in the recipe.
Too much baking soda gives a terrible metallic taste, so baking powder is added to give it more lift.
WHICH ONE IS STRONGER?
You may have already guessed the answer since baking soda is used to make baking powder, and you need more baking powder per cup of flour. But I’ll tell you anyway.
Baking soda is four times stronger than baking powder.
That’s why you will more often than not see recipes that only call for baking soda rather than recipes that only call for baking powder.
HOW LONG DO THEY LAST?
Baking soda is good indefinitely past its best by date, although it can lose potency over time.
A rule of thumb is two years for an unopened package and six months for an opened package.
However, to be honest, I’ve used very old baking soda with good results.
Like baking soda, baking powder is good indefinitely past its best by date, and can lose its potency over time.
For both opened and unopened, it’s ideal to use it within nine months to a year.
While storing it, make sure to keep it in a dry place and away from humidity.
HOW TO TEST IF IT’S STILL GOOD
To test baking powder, pour 3 tablespoons of warm water into a small bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, and stir.
If the baking powder is good to use, it should fizz a little.
To test baking soda, pour 3 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar into a small bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and stir.
The mixture should rapidly bubble if the soda is fresh.
BAKING AT HIGH ALTITUDES
The higher the altitude, the lower the air pressure, and the more difficult it is to bake recipes.
Increase 15 to 25°F. Since leavening and evaporation happen more quickly, the higher temperature helps set the structure of baked goods before they over-expand and dry out.
However, the baking at higher temperatures means products are done sooner, so decrease by 5-8 minutes per 30 minutes of baking time.
Adjustment for 3000 feet
- Reduce baking powder: for each teaspoon decrease 1/8 teaspoon.
- Reduce sugar: for each cup, decrease 0 to 1 tablespoon.
- Increase liquid: for each cup, add 1 to 2 tablespoons.
Adjustment for 5000 feet
- Reduce baking powder: for each teaspoon, decrease 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon.
- Reduce sugar: for each cup, decrease 0 to 2 tablespoons.
- Increase liquid: for each cup, add 2 to 4 tablespoons.
Adjustment for 7000+ feet
- Reduce baking powder: for each teaspoon, decrease 1/4 teaspoon.
- Reduce sugar: for each cup, decrease 1 to 3 tablespoons.
- Increase liquid: for each cup, add 3 to 4 tablespoons.
Baking with Humidity
Humidity can have a big impact on how your baked goods come out.
This is because when humidity is extremely high (think 70 percent or more), baking ingredients like flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda soak up moisture from the air.
This can negatively impact the outcome of your cakes, cookies, yeast breads, and quick breads.
There are some things you can do to try to save your baking.
Try to counterbalance the additional moisture
To help counterbalance the additional moisture your dry ingredients soak up from the air, try reducing the amount of liquid in the recipe by about one-quarter.
If the batter or dough looks too dry once all the ingredients are mixed together, add an additional liquid tablespoon at a time until you have the desired consistency.
This is not usually possible to do for cookies, but it does work for cakes and breads.
Store Ingredients in the Fridge
If flour and sugar are stored in the refrigerator or freezer rather than in a cupboard or pantry, they are better protected from humidity.
As an added benefit, keeping these ingredients cool also helps keep them fresher longer, in addition to helping them stay bug-free.
For the best results, let them warm to room temperature before using.
Bake for Longer
If you bake your goodies for a few extra minutes, it can help the liquid to cook off.
To avoid overbaking, continue testing for doneness every couple of minutes for breads, quick breads, cakes, cupcakes, and muffins. Cookies, on the other hand, need to be checked every minute.
Use Air Conditioning
To help lower humidity levels on humid summer days, air condition the room for at least an hour before you start baking.
Cooler air isn’t able to hold as much moisture as warm air.
Store your baked goods in an airtight container
Humidity can also ruin your fresh-baked goods because when they are left out, they can absorb moisture.
To avoid this, store them in an airtight container or resealable bag.
I think it’s very helpful to make these biscuits on wax paper like I do my dairy free pie crust made with oil. It makes for easier cleanup and doesn’t stick as much.
HOW TO STORE BISCUITS AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
Allow the biscuits to cool completely on the baking sheet or wire rack. Then, cover individual biscuits with heavy duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Store in a cool and dry place.
You can also store them in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. However, they may not store as well.
Store for 1 to 2 days.
HOW TO STORE BISCUITS IN THE REFRIGERATOR
Allow the biscuits to cool completely on the baking sheet or wire rack. Then, cover individual biscuits with heavy duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
Store for up to a week.
CAN YOU FREEZE BISCUITS?
Yes. Let baked biscuits sit on a wire rack until completely cool. Then, wrap each biscuit tightly in heavy-duty foil or freezer wrap and store in a gallon-sized freezer bag or airtight container.
They can be stored in the freezer for 2-3 months. After that they are still safe to eat but the quality begins to degrade.
HOW TO REHEAT FROZEN BISCUITS
To reheat previously-baked biscuits, transfer the frozen biscuits to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a 350°F or 175ºC oven for 15-20 minutes.
To prevent the biscuits from over-browning, lay a sheet of foil over the frozen biscuits.
CAN YOU FREEZE BISCUIT DOUGH?
Yes. After cutting out your biscuits, arrange them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and then transfer it to your freezer. Once the biscuits are frozen, you can transfer them to a gallon-sized freezer bag or airtight container.
Store the frozen biscuit dough for up to 3 months. After that they are still safe to eat but the quality begins to degrade.
HOW TO BAKE FROZEN BISCUIT DOUGH
Place the frozen biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to a preheated 425°F or 220ºC oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.