The first time I met Alanna, I’m pretty sure we spent upwards of 5 hours together making, styling and photographing these chilaquiles. I met her grumpy-adorable cat, Catamus, learned about camera lenses, admired her props cabinet, we chatted about our mutual contact (my food photographer uncle) and a bunch of other topics–one of which was potential book deals.
A second and a third visit brought a dinner party with the incredibly talented Pang, Sarah and Lucas, and a visit to Alanna and Jay’s favorite local Mexican spot. I’m pretty sure the third visit was when she not only fed me a slice of an incredible banana tart chilling in her fridge, but also some chestnut financiers she was testing for the cookbook–and then sent me home with a bag full of raspberry swirl biscuits that for some reason or another hadn’t turned out quite right (in Alanna’s mind, anyway. My family and I promptly consumed her generous offering and I proceeded to dream about the “not-quite-perfect” biscuits for the next 8 or so months).
Now that Alanna’s BEAUTIFUL new cookbook is out, I had to honor it and her with those same biscuits. Alternative Baker celebrates alternative flours in gluten-free recipes where the focus is really on how delicious flours like chestnut, mesquite, oat and corn can be rather than the fact that gluten is missing.
I’ve made five recipes from the book so far, recipe testing included–the apple, buckwheat and gruyere pancake, chocolate zucchini cake, chocolate cranberry pecan tart with Alanna’s amazing cocoa buckwheat tart crust, pluot poppy muffins and buckwheat pear galettes with walnuts and salty caramel. All of them, without fail, were so much more delicious than any gluten-free recipe I’ve tried in the past. I am really tempted to bake my way through her entire cookbook because each photograph is more beautiful than the last and promises amazing results.
I can’t recommend her cookbook enough, whether you adhere to a gluten-free diet or simply want to expand your baking horizons with completely unique, beautiful and incredibly delicious recipes. Congratulations Alanna–your book is an absolute work of art!!
Alanna makes these biscuits with raspberries, but I was out both times I was ready to make them–one time I subbed strawberries and 1/3 cup of chocolate chips and the other I added 1 1/4 cups of cranberries tossed with 2 tablespoons of sugar (pictured). The optional glaze was a bit sweet in conjunction with the chocolate, but well-received with the tart cranberries. A couple tasters noted a slightly bitter taste in the dough that I didn’t detect, but just something to note–this might totally be resolved by just using raspberries as Alanna wisely advises.
These biscuits have a moist, open, slightly coarse crumb that crisps beautifully at the edges. The fun thing about these is that the texture varies widely with temperature–cold, the dough takes on a sandy consistency that I’m kind of addicted to–warm, the dough is soft, yielding and slightly sticky. Alanna recommends using Bob’s Red Mill’s flour since alternative grains can vary widely in consistency depending on the grind and I found this out the hard way–the first time I made these biscuits with flour that I had (lazily) ground in my nutribullet, the biscuits turned out slightly lumpy and craggier than I remembered. After I ground the flour more finely in the Blendtec for the second round of biscuits, the dough turned out much more smoothly, the rolls of my dreams.