Angel Biscuits

Biscuits in a wrapping of sassafras leaves

A southern staple, Angel Biscuits are double-leavened with baking powder and with yeast. I've added a third trick: a boost of Tangzhong, or pre-gelled, corn flour. This extra step not only extends the concept of biscuit to include Asian cuisine, it substantially tenderizes the end result, moves the flavor dial towards More Interesting, and adds only a few minutes time.

Yield: 8 - 10 biscuits, each about 1 ounce

Time to make: 1 hour active. 1 hour proof and 15 minutes oven dwell.

Equipment needed: Large prep bowl (minimum 12 inches diameter). Measuring cups and spoons. Bench knife or scraper. Sharp knife. Large plastic cutting board/work surface. Whisk. Saucepan. Small spatula. Multiple small bowls. Half-size sheet pan. Bakers parchment to fit sheet pan. Biscuit cutter.


1 cup whole milk
4 Tablespoons corn flour or corn masa
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
3 Tablespoons GF rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 Tablespoon melted coconut oil
2 teaspoons instant yeast
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold (not frozen)
2/3 cup buttermilk
Optional: 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Oprional: 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
Potato starch to dust work surface


The rolled oats may be eliminated. It's OK to substitute psyllium husk powder for xanthan gum. Instead of coconut oil, any flavorful oil or shortening may be used, or 1 Tablespoon melted butter.

The optional cinnamon-sugar mix may be replaced with a cocoa-sugar mix, or chopped and partially dehydrated fruit,  or roasted chopped pecans tossed in honey, or any other spice+sugar blend that you enjoy.


1) Make the Tangzhong. Place the milk in a small saucepan and whisk in the corn flour until thoroughly blended. Heat over medium-high while continuously stirring. When mixture thickens to the point of the stirring instrument leaving an open track on the bottom of the saucepan, remove from heat. Continue stirring another minute until mixture begins to cool. Set aside.

2) Place the sorghum flour, the tapioca starch, the millet flour, the rolled oats, the baking powder, the baking soda, the xanthan gum, the sugar and the salt into a large, open prep bowl. Toss the mixture with your fingers until thoroughly blended.

3) Add the coconut oil to the flour mixture and toss again with your fingers. Work the mix until the oil is well-distributed and pea-sized pebbles of moistened flour become scattered through the blend.

4) Test the Tangzhong with an instant-read thermometer or a wet fingertip. It should be 125 F or less (very warm but not capable of burning the skin). Add the yeast to it and stir until smooth.

5) Cut thin slices of cold butter off the ends of the stick and toss these into the flour-oil blend. Using the heel of your hand, Press down into the mix to flatten the butter pieces into thin, irregular slabs. Toss the mix lightly, then add the buttermilk and approximately half the Tangzhong, reserving and refrigerating the remainder for other uses.

6) Generously dust a work surface with potato starch. Still using your fingers, gently toss the ingredients until they just come together into a loose, shaggy dough. If dough is too dry, add water, one tablespoon at a time, and toss until dough just comes together. Turn out dough onto the prepared work surface. Dust the top of the dough, and your hands and a rolling pin, with potato starch.

7) Form the dough into a loose rectangle. Gently roll until the rectangle is about 3/4 inch thick. If using cinnamon-sugar, generously sprinkle this spice mix over the lower half of the rectangle. Fold the upper half up and over the lower, then re-roll the dough to a 3/4 inch thick rectangle. Repeat cinnamon-sugar application. Fold the dough again. Gently roll until the dough is between 1 inch and 1 1/2 inches thick.

8) Prepare a sheet pan by lining with a sheet of bakers parchment. Using a well-dusted biscuit cutter, cut straight down (no twisting!) to produce biscuits. Place the biscuits edge-touching on the parchment. Push dough scraps together gently then roll, fold, and cut into more biscuits. Pat the last bits of scrap together and place on the parchment. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise - about 1 hour.

9) Heat oven to 425 F. When biscuits are noticeably risen (they will not double), bake for 12 - 16 minutes, rotating the tray half-way through. Remove to a cooling rack. Some folks brush with melted butter at this point. Just sayin'. Allow to mostly cool but try to eat while still warm. Biscuits should be consumed within 24 hours. The may be frozen. The may also be rewarmed in the microwave, 15 seconds at high power.