First I decided to use it to try and make gluten free Irish Soda Bread for St Patty's day. The recipe I had called for specific measurements of various gluten free flours and gums, but I had a premix to work with, so I made adjustments and ran into some problems to hurdle along the way. At first it was too much liquid so that the batter looked like oatmeal, not like bread. I suspected it might work out if I poured the mixture into a muffin tin, but instead I set aside some of the semi liquid batter placing it in a sealed container in the fridge hoping to use it the next morning for gluten-free buttermilk pancakes. I then adjusted the recipe by adding more of the pancake and baking mix to the remaining batter. Soon it took on the texture of sticky bread dough, and I decided to give it a shot.
I was pleasantly surprised by some friends who called asking to drop by providing me with more taste testers! The bread turned out so good that even my friends and loved ones who are meat and potato type people went back for seconds. These weren't vegans, vegetarians, or granola/healthy type people, they were card carrying junk food addicted carnivores like me. OK, there's not really a carnivore card, but there IS a bumper sticker and t-shirt! All joking aside, the bread was soft, tender, and had that Irish Soda Bread flavor I was craving.
Below is the recipe I ended up with for these Mini Soda Bread Biscuits. Be forewarned, they do include milk and eggs. I mistakenly left out a couple of very important binding agents from the original method, so these did not have the perfect soda bread texture I was expecting, instead they were much more moist and tender, which ended up being a wonderful thing if you're expecting it. I am planning to create a vegan version next time Milo can come over, because these were too delicious not to try and share with my vegan friends. This recipe was inspired by Gluten-Free Girl and her Irish Soda Bread Buns. I would eventually like to get all the ingredients and try it her way...but since I was working with what was in my pantry, I came up with this version instead:
Mini Soda Bread Biscuits:
20 ounces gluten-free flours (I used Pamela's Gluten-free Pancake and Baking Mix)
2 1/2 ounces (1/4 cup) sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (you can also melt some later to cross on top if you'd like)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (I actually made my own buttermilk from an online recipe)
1 cup dried fruit (this was made with Craisens, but currants are traditional)
Get out butter and other ingredients first, this gives the butter time to soften. Mix flower, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Using a fork, mix in 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter. You can also use your hands, but this melts the butter a bit and I prefer mine with small balls of butter covered in flour and find the fork works best. Continue until the mixture looks grainy or as Gluten Free Girl said, like course meal.
Make a well in the flour and butter mixture. Set aside half the buttermilk, and mix 2 eggs into the half you are about to use. Pour half in and mix until evenly spread through the flour. Add th rest of the milk gradually until the dough is the correct texture. I found the full amount of liquid to be too much. I would have preferred a thicker mixture with a slight amount of flour making it easier to portion out into 8 to 16 segments. I found about 1/4 cup made for 16 biscuits. Mix in whatever dry fruit you wish.
Preheat oven to 400 and place mixture on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Put biscuits in over for 5 minutes. (thank the powers that be for oven timers!)
5 minutes into cooking time pull them from the oven. Using a tablespoon or so of melted butter if you so desire, dip a knife into the butter and make an x on the top of the biscuit. I found this part to be a lot of fun. And the butter kept the knife from becoming covered with bread dough. Replace in over and cook for 15 minutes or until slightly golden brown. These are AMAZING fresh out of the oven.
Today, I brought the leftover batter out and found it had risen a bit while in the fridge. I'll have to remember that trick for when I try to make muffins. But this time I added a bit more milk and it stirred up into the perfect pancake batter consistency which turned out to make for buttermilk pancakes that I believe anyone would like to eat. The recipe is the same as above, but with more liquid. Rice milk and lemon juice or vinegar could replace buttermilk. My first two spread further than I expected, so pour sparingly and give it a chance to grow to it's full size before pouring another. These would make great silver dollar pancakes because of the slightly crispy outside and soft fluffy inside. Perhaps tomorrow when I'm cooking for friends I'll try pouring them silver dollar sized like Mom used to make.
I'm going to save the rest of the batter to share with friends who are coming over Friday and see if they even notice that a different type of flour was used. I was pleasantly surprised at the light and fluffy texture of warm buttermilk pancake almost melting on my tongue. They went wonderfully with the plump boysenberries I sprinkled on them. No added butter or syrup was needed as far as I'm concerned they were perfect with just the added sweetness of the fruit and the nuttiness of the peanut oil they were cooked in. Again, these are gluten-free but not vegan. If I come up with a yummy vegan pancake mix once I start working from scratch with various gluten-free flours I will of course share it!
I haven't cooked in years, so all things considered I am very proud of myself. This gluten-free food prep isn't as hard as some people make it sound. Of course, the trick is going to be learning to eat nutritious foods at the same time. It's one thing to prepare foods that taste good, a whole other thing to also make sure they meet all of our dietary needs. That's the goal: better health through yumness!