Thursday, November 18, 2010

Veggie Might: The Battle of Pumpkin Spice Biscuits

Written by the fabulous Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about all things Vegetarian.

Do you ever have an idea that you're convinced is the Best Idea Ever? Do you then have the utmost confidence that this idea will be Really Easy to Execute?

Last month, CB and I ventured north where I bought a farm stand's worth of squash. I have since made soup, a pie, and frozen the rest for Thanksgiving.

Then I had the Best Idea Ever. I should make pumpkin biscuits for Thanksgiving dinner. Doesn't that sound amazing?! I pictured them: light, flaky, fragrant with clove and nutmeg, steamy and dripping with butter.

But I decided I should not look in any of my cookbooks or on the Internet for recipes. I would make this happen on my own, armed only with my family's biscuit mix recipe and my own ingenuity.

Between batches three and four, my tiny Hells Kitchen galley looked like the aftermath of a battle between the Swedish Chef and the Pumpkin King.

A heavy dusting of flour blanketed the room like snow. Blobs of dough stuck to the floor and table. Orange puree splattered the walls and my face. My little dog cowered in the far corner of the living room, knowing well enough to stay out of the line of fire.

The first batch was too dry and didn't have enough pumpkin flavor. The second was the right consistency, but it needed more spices. The third and fourth batches were too wet and sticky to be called dough, but the spices were right.

Finally, late in the evening, the oven timer dinged. Batch five was ready. Battleweary and a little queasy, I peeled myself from the couch where the flicker of Veronica Mars, Season 2 kept me tethered to 2006.

The scent of pumpkin pie wafted through the battlefield kitchen. The puffy, pumpkin biscuits looked delicious as I relieved them from heat of the oven, but I had been deceived before. I forked one open, smothered it with vegan butter, and, with a single bite, sent up a cry of victory.

The texture was light and airy and, though savory, essence of pumpkin and warm pie spices came through. I collapsed from joy and fatigue, too full to eat more than one. But my roommate came through, eating biscuit after biscuit, declaring the battle won.

Pumpkin Spice Biscuits taught me a few valuable lessons about recipe development: it is both challenging and worth the effort. And between batches 3 and 4, there are some things even a dog won't eat off the floor.


If this recipe floats your boat, paddle on over to:

Pumpkin Spice Biscuits
Makes 10-12 three-inch biscuits

2 cups biscuit mix*
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground clove

*Biscuit Mix
8 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
4 tsp salt
1/2 cup baking powder
1 cup shortening, chilled and cut into pieces

Note: Dough may be a little fluffier than typical biscuit dough. A well floured work surface and hands, as well as kneading in a little extra flour, should take care of any stickiness issues. If you like tall, thick biscuits, roll your dough a little thicker than 1/2" and add a couple more minutes to the baking time. Also, a mesh strainer works great as a flour sifter.

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and lightly coat baking sheet with oil or nonstick cooking spray.

2) Sift flour into a large mixing bowl, then measure out 8 level cups into food processor/stand mixer bowl or another large mixing bowl. Add baking soda, salt, and chilled shortening pieces.

3) If using mixer or food processor, pulse in short bursts until shortening is cut evenly and dry ingredients are combined. If using a pastry cutter or fork, cut shortening evenly throughout dry ingredients. Mix should look like bread crumbs.

4) Measure out 2 cups of biscuit mix into a medium mixing bowl and refrigerate the rest. (Now you're ready the next time you want to make biscuits!**) Add pumpkin puree and spices. Mix with a fork until just combined.

5) Sprinkle extra flour onto clean work surface and turn out dough. Powder hands and rolling pin with flour. Knead in a little flour if dough is too sticky to work with. Form dough into ball and pat down into a disk. Roll out dough into a 1/2-inch thick disk. Cut out biscuits with a floured 3-inch biscuit cutter (a juice glass works great in a pinch). Reflour your hands and repeat using scraps until all dough is used.

6) Place biscuits closely together on prepared baking sheet. Make sure the biscuits are touching; it helps them rise. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

7) When lightly golden, remove from oven and wait a couple of minutes before moving to a towel-lined basket or bowl to keep warm. Serve at breakfast with vegan butter or dipped in veggie gravy with your Thanksgiving meal.

**For regular biscuits, just add 1/2 cup of your favorite milk to 2 cups of mix and follow directions 5-7.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price per Serving
117.5 calories, 4.5g fat, .8g fiber, 2.3g protein, $.12

Biscuit Mix
8 cups sifted all-purpose flour: 3640 calories, 8g fat, 24g fiber, 104g protein, $1.68
4 tsp salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.08
1/2 cup baking powder: 48 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.48
1 cup shortening: 1760 calories, 208g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $2.24
TOTALS: 5448 calories, 216g fat, 24g fiber, 104g protein, $4.48
PER SERVING (TOTALS/4): 1,362 calories, 54g fat, 6g fiber, 26g protein, $1.12

Pumpkin Spice Biscuits
2 cups biscuit mix: 1,362 calories, 54g fat, 6g fiber, 26g protein, $1.12
1 cup pumpkin: 49 calories, 0g fat, 3g fiber, 2g protein, $0.25
1 tsp cinnamon: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
1 tsp nutmeg: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
1 tsp clove: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
1 tsp star anise: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
TOTALS: 1411 calories, 54g fat, 9g fiber, 28g protein, $1.41
PER SERVING (TOTALS/12): 117.5 calories, 4.5g fat, .8g fiber, 2.3g protein, $.12

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Anonymous said...

Could the shortening be replaced with something lighter/healthier? Thanks!

Elizabeth said...

Minor detail, but one of the tags is "975-". I'm guessing that isn't meant to be there?

Leigh said...

I meant to clarify that I used nonhydrogentated shortening, which has no trans fat. Coconut oil would also work; the recipe requires a solid fat.

Otherwise, I think your only option is reducing the amount and seeing how it goes. My family's original recipe calls for 1 1/2 c., so I've already lightened it up for you!

Billiga Lån said...

Perfect for Thanksgiving, as we are always opt to create something that's "both challenging and worth the effort". I love the color as I can almost feel its texture,and richness, Yummy!