When is a Biscuit a Square?

Biscuit Squares with Watercress

It’s so exciting being at the leading edge of cuisine, especially when it happens because you’re in the midst of a culinary disaster.  The chain of events went as follows: A reader had asked me to find a recipe for biscuits—a request which I had filed away in my memory banks.  Then I bought watercress on sale.  Then I looked through cookbooks for watercress recipes.  The New York Times Cookbook obliged with a recipe for watercress biscuits.  “What an odd but good idea!” I thought, because it fit in with my desire to add nutritious vegetables wherever I can. 

Then I found a biscuit recipe in Bette Hagman’s The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods, which I particularly liked because it didn’t use a lot of shortening.  However, the recipe wasn’t for the lactose-intolerant because it included buttermilk.  I had read in Living Without magazine that I could substitute 1 cup of soy milk mixed with 1 tbsp. lemon juice for 1 cup of buttermilk.  Problem solved.  Except that I couldn’t use the Featherlight Rice Flour Mix called for in the recipe, because I didn’t have any potato flour on hand.  I decided to use the Gluten-Free Mix instead.  Problem solved. 

Then I went into cooking mode.  Measure, add, mix…measure, add, mix.  “Hmmm, a little moist,” I thought.  Clearly, I think in understatements.  When I tried to roll out the dough, the disaster revealed itself.  Way, way too moist.  Was it doomed because the soured soy milk wasn’t as thick as buttermilk?  Or because I hadn’t used the right flour blend?  Or maybe the watercress was adding to the moistness?  Whatever the cause,  I was either going to have to add lots more flour, which could make the biscuits too heavy, or…, I know, bake the biscuits as they were squares! 

The result?  They smell like biscuits, and they taste like biscuits with a slight tang of watercress.  But, of course, but they don’t look anything like biscuits.  But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?  So…I give you the recipe, using the correct flour mix, with two endings: the recipe’s actual ending and my ending.  I do plan to try this again and will keep you posted!

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 8 servings

The Featherlight Rice Flour Mix is as follows:

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. potato flour (not starch!) 


  • ½ cup unsweetened soy milk or other alternative milk
  • 1½ tsp. lemon juice
  • 7/8 cup Featherlight Rice Flour Mix
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. sugar (I used the real thing because the amount was so small, but you can substitute artificial sugar)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. shortening
  • 1 bunch watercress, big stems removed, and processed until finely chopped (optional)


  1. Mix soy milk and lemon juice and let sit while preparing the other ingredients.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients: flour mix, xanthan gum, baking soda, sugar, and salt.
  3. Using pastry blender or two knives, cut in the shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Stir in soured soy milk.
  5. Add watercress, if desired.
  6. Ending #1: If your dough forms a ball, turn it out onto a surface dusted with rice flour and pat or lightly roll to ¾” thickness.  Cut dough into 2½” rounds.  Place 1″ apart on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake in 450º F oven for 10-12 minutes.
  7. Ending #2: If your dough is too moist to roll, pour into a sprayed 8″ x 8″ baking pan.  Bake in 425º F oven for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

For Weight Watchers: Each serving is 3.5 points on the Points plan and 4 points on the PointsPlus plan.

(Adapted from “Featherlight Biscuits” in The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Food by Bette Hagman)

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