Enter: Coconut oil (non hydrogenated)
For those of you who haven't cooked with it before, it's great. It's generally found in the organic area of the grocery store, and it's fantastic for cooking up to medium-high heat. It's a mildly flavored (no suntan lotion smell, I promise!) and it's great for baking. I also particularly enjoy using a bit of it for cooking eggs or some stir fries.
To note though, that all coconut oils are not created equal. I used Dr. Bronner's (yes, the same manufacturer as the hemp peppermint-all-in-one pure castile soap!) for this recipe, and it did smell coconut-y, but not in a bad way. I do know that Spectrum brand is odorless, so next time I'll probably use it instead. Also, it does melt at a lower temperature, so I knew that keeping it "in chunks" for biscuits would be tough. Thankfully, we just acquired a food processor, and that does the trick for cutting in the fat without making a melted, soggy mess. So the question - can coconut oil replace butter and lard in a biscuit where it's crucial to have chunks of fat to create steam pockets and therefore flaky biscuits?
But first, another dairy dilemma - what about the buttermilk? A friend suggested almond milk. To recreate the tang that buttermilk has, I soured it with lemon juice. And, bingo, it worked. And it didn't taste of almonds, which wouldn't have necessarily been a bad thing, but not what I was going for.
I will admit that I wasn't sure these were going to work, so I didn't photograph the process (oops). Work they did, and the flavor was great! The whole wheat flour lent a nutty and more wholesome flavor, and they were flaky and tender, as all biscuits aspire to be.
And they are boyfriend and vegan friend approved!
(If you're going for just "regular whole wheat biscuits," you can still use this recipe. Just swap out the coconut oil and almond milk for butter and milk)
Vegan Whole-Wheat Biscuits
(heavily adapted from the Cook's Country recipe)
Makes ~ 12 biscuits
12 Tbsp coconut oil (scoop out, and put in a bowl in the fridge until you need it - remember, it needs to be cold!)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups almond milk (with 1 Tbsp + 3/4 tsp lemon juice)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix dry ingredients in your food processor, a few pulses will do it. Scatter the coconut oil chunks (cold) over the dry ingredients and pulse briefly, until it resembles a coarse meal.
Dump the mixture into a bowl and stir in the almond milk mixture by hand. Stop when the dough forms a uniform texture. (The food processor will overwork it and produce tough biscuits. Tough biscuits = all the bad things in the world!)
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently. Roll it out evenly, until it's about 3/4 inch thick. Dip a floured biscuit (or cookie) cutter into flour before cutting out the biscuits. Place them onto the prepared pan.
Bake the biscuits for 5 minutes in the 450 degree oven, and then rotate the pan and turn the oven down to 400 degrees. Bake for 10-12 more minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, let cool a few minutes, and then enjoy!