Not-So-Southern Biscuits

Biscuits remain something of an edible enigma to me, defying definition; as elusive as the fleeting aroma released from the oven as they spring forth, from raw dough to fluffy golden cakes. Growing up far from the southern border, I can’t claim any “authenticity” in my own attempts at biscuit fabrication, but there’s no way I’d let a lack of experience stop me from treading forth into such savory waters. I may not know exactly when to serve them, what to top them with, or how to pair them with your average meal, but if I have to build my entire menu around this simple side dish, so be it. Through trial and a whole lot of error, I’ve found my perfectly nontraditional biscuit formula that’s worth all the fuss.

Crisp, with a crackling amber-brown crust on the outside, but tender and soft on the inside, these coarse little breads bear far more flavor than your average wheat flour rolls. A harmonious marriage of cornbread and scone, these particular quick breads burst with the summery essence of corn, all bundled into a tidy handheld package. Enriched with the exotic taste of coconut milk, there’s a certain depth and buttery flavor to the crumb that no stick of congealed dairy products could ever hope to impart. They may have been inspired by the typical cream biscuit construction, hailing from the northernmost reaches of the country in Maine, but the end results transcend all boundaries. Something about the bright corn flavor makes me think of summer and backyard cookouts, although they would make just as fetching accompaniments to a cozy winter stew.

There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy these unconventional biscuits- The only key is that you enjoy them as soon as you can. Hot out of the oven, still steaming when you split them in half, and with a modest pat of buttery spread melting into every nook and cranny, the experience is of pure, freshly baked bliss.

Cornbread Coconut Biscuits

1 1/3 Cups All Purpose Flour
2/3 Cup Medium-Grind Yellow Cornmeal
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
6 Tablespoons Vegan Margarine, Chilled
1 Cup Full-Fat Coconut Milk, Plus More to Finish

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with either a piece of parchment paper or a silpat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper until thoroughly blended. Cut the cold margarine into 1/2-inch pieces before tossing them in as well, mixing to coat with the dry goods. Use a pastry cutter or two forks to cut the margarine in, stirring and mashing so that you achieve a coarse, crumbly consistency. You don’t want the margarine to become completely incorporated, but there should be no pieces remaining that are any larger than petite peas.

Shake the coconut milk well before opening to ensure that it’s properly mixed. Pour it into the bowl and stir with a wide spatula, just until the mixture comes together. Never mind an errant lump or two; they’ll bake out just fine!

Once you have a slightly shaggy, sticky dough, transfer it to a well-floured surface and pat it into a rough rectangle about 1-inch thick. Take a very sharp knife and cut it in half lengthwise, and then into either thirds or fourths crosswise, depending on how large you want your biscuits. This will result in 6 or 8 neat little squares. Gently transfer the cut biscuits to your prepared sheet pan, reshaping slightly if necessary, and brush the tops lightly with additional coconut milk to promote browning.

Bake for 18 – 22 minutes until golden brown all over. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before digging in. To save the biscuits for later, let cool completely and store in an air-tight container at room temperature. The finished biscuits will keep for up to 4 days.

Makes 6 – 8 Biscuits

Printable Recipe


19 thoughts on “Not-So-Southern Biscuits

  1. Yum, Hannah! Biscuits where I come from are rather a different thing (cookies), but I was introduced to American biscuits when visiting relatives in the States. Yours are no doubt a much healthier version of those! xx

  2. I agree that hot of the oven is the only way… Love your adaptions to keep it vegan and a really simple recipe as well and for me in the summer it is all about keeping it easy. Take care

  3. I love cornbread! They’re delicious and easy to make too. My 3 years old son loves it so much! Thanks for the recipe =)

  4. Help me out here – biscuit virgin (biscuits being very different beasts here!) I thought biscuits were like scones – is that wrong? What do I eat biscuits with? Because after this, I really want to eat some!

    1. Not wrong at all, especially if you’re thinking of the flakier, layer-style of biscuits. Biscuits come in many shapes and forms, and generally, I find that they fall somewhere on the scale between dinner rolls and scones.

      Oh, and all you need to enjoy them is a pat of vegan butter, or nothing at all since they’re already so buttery! If you want to get “fancy” though, bit of gravy never hurt…

  5. Hannah, your biscuits look delicious. We treat ourselves to biscuits and vegan gravy for breakfast at least once a month here. Your recipe is a welcome addition to our table.

  6. I have not tried biscuits before.. I Would think that they are a little like scones? Correct me if I’m wrong.

    but these sounds really how you incorporated flavour with the use of coconut milk and cornmeal. Would love to try it. bet they would be fantastic with butter and jam!

    1. They’re a little bit like scones, but I would argue that they tend to fall closer to the realm of dinner rolls, in most cases. They can be tricky to define because some people make their biscuits fluffy and more bread-like, while others prefer them flaky and layered. These biscuits are the more bready variety, but both are good!

  7. I’ve never had much luck with biscuits (although I recently learned from Bianca at Vegan Crunk that it’s probably because I was twisting the biscuit cutter!), but I really want to try these!

  8. I really like this recipe — I love cornbread and have tried many different versions, but have never used coconut milk. What a delicious ingredient!

  9. They look absolutely delectable but with what do you eat them with? We don’t make this in Belgium so I wonder? As breakfast? As dinner with veggies & tofu? Instead of potatoes?

    1. Well, traditionally, biscuits could be a meal in and of themselves- Just smother them with some rich gravy and call it a day! They can work for any meal of the day, and I think that you suggestions are spot-on. Personally, I would build my meal with these babies as the starch, rounding it out with some sort of protein (seitan, beans, or tofu, as you said) and some sort of vegetable to lighten up the plate.

  10. I miss biscuits, I always snack on these sourdough biscuits and slab some vegan butter on them back in the U.S. I love how fluffy and sour they are. Goodness, your cornbread coconut biscuits look utterly delicious…I must slab some buttaaaah on them. Love love love. Please send them all the way here, I need them in my life, Hannah! ❤

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