When stocking a new kitchen, it takes a while to get to the point where one has all the ingredients and tools she might need. This is especially true when the person in question desires to cook for both pleasure and health. It's tough to balance these two priorities, especially when one lives in Brooklyn and shops at a store that's quite a walk away. Long story short, I bought whole wheat flour and have been using it every weekend in breakfast baked goods instead of mixing it with all purpose. The subsequent pancakes were alright when fortified with crunchy walnuts and fresh slices of fruit, but they weren't as fluffy as I would have liked.
And then, this morning, there were the biscuits. I baked them from a recipe in Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions. Sally suggests using either spelt, kamut, or whole wheat flour. Since all I had was whole wheat, I went with that. After soaking the flour in buttermilk overnight (in order to make the nutrients in the grain more readily available for digestion), I kneaded the dough and added the other ingredients. It quickly became apparent to me that these biscuits didn't have much hope of becoming delicious and/or fluffy as I had hoped the night before. But I'd already begun, and I wasn't about to stop now. I cut out the biscuits, plopped them onto a cookie sheet, and pulled them out of the oven 40 minutes later.
The results looked pretty good (please see photo above). I probably could have lied to you and told you that they were tender, buttery, and scrumptious. But they really weren't, and I'd like to save you from making this same mistake. The biscuits were hard. Like, you drop them on your plate and they make a loud ringing noise. And bitter. I only ate half of one, which if you know me at all, you will know is very, very abnormal. And so, despite the fact that Ms. Fallon names biscuits that substitute 1/3 of the flour with white flour "Cheaters' Biscuits", that's just what I'm going to do next time. In fact, I'm seriously considering using 2/3 white flour and only 1/3 whole wheat, thus making them into Super Duper Cheaters' Biscuits (I made that up myself). So there. I think the results will be wonderful, because the whole wheat versions rose nicely and browned perfectly, even though I later confused them with hockey pucks.
I'll let you know how my cheaters' version goes. And let me know how you like to make use of whole wheat flours, as well as others like spelt, kamut, and oat. As far as flours go, I've got a lot to learn.
Super-Duper Cheaters' Biscuits
Adapted from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions
Makes about 1 dozen
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons melted butter or lard
1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
a little extra flour, for rolling
Mix flours with buttermilk to form a thick dough. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for 12 to 24 hours.
Place in food processor and process several minutes to knead (or knead by hand for a nice workout). Blend in remaining ingredients.
Remove dough to a well-floured pastry board and sprinkle with flour to prevent sticking. Roll or press dough to about 3/4 inch thickness. Cut biscuits with a glass or cookie cutter and place on a buttered baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until tops are golden. Serve with butter, honey, preserves, or nut butter.