Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sage Biscuits with Ancient Grain

I've become quite a fan of Amaranth flour. Amaranth is an ancient Aztec grain that comes from an annual related to spinach and swiss chard, high starch content, and rich in protein, iron, and calcium. It works best when combined with other flours, as it can have an overly grainy texture on its own; I discovered this while experimenting with Amaranth pancakes.

I thought that this would be the perfect type of flour to use for a savory, satisfying breakfast pastry. Although I'm not much for the overly buttery and flaky variety of biscuits, I wanted to see if I could create something a tad more wholesome. I did some research, and I found two biscuit recipes that were intriguing, but not precisely what I was hoping for. So, I picked and chose a few key pieces from each and put them together into this variation. And these sage biscuits, while certainly not the buttermilk biscuits of the South, are soft, aromatic, and absolutely perfect served warm. I brought a dozen of them to a brunch, where they accompanied fresh fruit and yogurt, and I couldn't have been more pleased with how well they went with a lighter spread of food; they did not overwhelm, but also left no one wanting for a more filling alternative.

Sage Biscuits

1 cup rice flour
1 cup Amaranth flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. finely chopped sage
8 tbsp. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
¾ cup buttermilk

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and set oven rack to middle position.
2. Whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and sage.
3. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the butter into the mixture until it becomes a course meal.
4. Stir in the buttermilk until the mixture forms a sticky ball.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Divide the dough into quarters, then cut the quarters into thirds. Shape each piece into a rough ball and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
5. Bake 10-12 minutes, until tops of the biscuits are browned.

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