Tips for Working with Gluten-Free Biscuits and Crackers
Biscuits and crackers are all made from doughs. Though they are typically made with wheat flour, you can use gluten-free flours to make treats that are easy and satisfying. Biscuits are usually made from soft doughs, and crackers are made from firm dough. The difference between the types of dough is in the amount of liquid in the recipe and how the dough is formed and shaped.
Some basic rules for working with gluten-free biscuits and crackers include the following:
Measure gluten-free flour and other ingredients carefully, by weight if possible, and mix the dough as directed. Measuring, building structure, and doneness tests are crucial to the success of gluten-free biscuit and cracker recipes.
If you don’t use a scale to measure flours and mixes, always measure by spooning the flour or mix lightly into a measuring cup and leveling off the top with the back of a knife.
Be sure the flours you use are the grind or texture the recipe specifies. If a recipe calls for super-fine flour and you can’t find it, use fine flour or regular flour and grind it in the blender or food processor. Fine flours produce smoother dough with no grittiness. Sometimes you want more texture in a recipe, but sometimes, for a tender product, less texture is desirable.
If you can’t use xanthan gum in your biscuit or cracker recipes, raw buckwheat flour is a good substitute: Use 1 tablespoon of raw buckwheat flour and 2 tablespoons of water for 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum. You must grind your own raw buckwheat flour because the store-bought variety is toasted. Buy raw buckwheat kernels and grind them to a powder.
Following are some additional suggestions that pertain specifically to biscuits or crackers:
Biscuits: Biscuits are quick breads, leavened by baking powder and/or baking soda. You make them by cutting a fat into flour and adding liquid until a soft dough forms. You can form biscuits in several ways. You can simply drop soft dough onto a cookie sheet and bake it; you can make these “drop biscuits” quickly and easily. Biscuits that you roll and cut with a cookie cutter require a little more finesse and the correct dough texture.
Crackers: Cracker dough is firm enough to roll out or shape into balls to flatten with a fork or the bottom of a water glass. For crisp crackers, some fat is necessary. The fat in crackers is what makes them crisp and flaky. Be sure that you mix the fat well with the flour before you add the liquid. And don’t be afraid to handle this type of dough. Cut it into shapes with cookie cutters or make free-form crackers with a sharp knife.
After you master the technique of making biscuits and crackers, you can have fun experimenting in the kitchen. Try different flours, add different flavorings like cheese and herbs, or make a recipe heartier with nuts or spices.