Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oatmeal, Pecan and Date Sticky Biscuits

I woke up super early this morning.  That kind of blows when it's a Saturday and I have nothing planned and can sleep in if I want.  I started to get hungry way earlier than usual since I got up so early.  I was craving tofu bennies and home fries but I don't have all of the ingredients to make that.  Usually I can just send James to the store to pick up whatever I still need as I'm cooking the rest of it but seeing as how he was still soundly asleep that didn't happen.  I know, I know.  I could have carried my butt out to the market, too.  I just didn't feel like it, especially since it was super early anyway.  I don't actually think the market is open until 9am, anyway.  So what's a gal to do?  I needed one or two things that I don't have to make pretty much everything I was wanting.  I decided to start digging through old recipes that I'd cut out of magazines or printed out from the internets and then I found inspiration! I didn't really want something sweet for breakfast.  I'm more of a savory type, but I had everything I needed to make these.


Enter oatmeal, pecan and date sticky biscuits.  This recipe is seriously cool in a lot of ways.  For one thing, you can hide all kinds of good for you stuff in them and it still tastes sinful.  Also, these are sort of like sticky buns, but using biscuit dough.  I can't believe I've never thought of doing this.  Making sticky buns or cinnamon rolls usually takes hours because of all of the dough rising.  Don't get me wrong, it's usually totally worth the wait, but for those days when you're impatient or don't have the time, just use biscuit dough instead.  What a fabulous idea!  Also, everything I needed I had in the cabinet pretty much.  I even threw in a few extra things I found.

This recipe is about half mine.  It's based on one I found in the October 2008 issue of Bon Appetit.  I veganized it and tweaked the ingredients a bit.  I strongly urge you to have fun with this and do the same. (Except it's already veganized, I did that part for you.) You can really add anything to the filling along with the brown sugar.  Just make sure you chop it up really well.  Maybe add some chopped nuts or fresh berries or crystallized ginger or hell, chocolate chips.  I might try making these again, but instead of making them sweet, add things like sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives in the middle with pesto and a vegan cream cheese topping instead of a sugary one.  Yum!  We'll see what I have in the fridge when that urge strikes me.

Straight from the oven before flipping over onto the plate.

These are super tasty and soft and fluffy and gooey and quite sweet.  They're also really easy to make.  The original recipe called for dark corn syrup in the topping, but I don't have any of that so I used some sweetcane syrup because I have a jar and need to use it up.  That made the topping get hard like candy after a bit, though.  I think you could probably just use agave nectar or maple syrup or something, though.

I ended up using a springform pan to cook these in.  I didn't really think that through.  My topping bubbled through the cracks and made a huge mess on the bottom of the oven, so don't do that.  Looks like I'm going to be spending the afternoon scrubbing the oven.  Just use a square or rectangular baking pan or even a dutch oven if you don't have a cake pan.  You're not making these for the Food Network or something, so who cares.

Sticky, gooey, yumminess

Oatmeal, Pecan and Date Sticky Biscuits

1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) Earth Balance, diced
1/4 cup agave nectar or other liquid sweetener
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan halves

1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup diced, pitted Medjool dates
1/3 cup chopped dried cranberries
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oats (not instant or steel cut, the rolled oats)
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled Earth Balance, diced
3/4 cup (or more) non-dairy milk (I used almond milk, but use whatever you like)
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar.

3 Tablespoons melted Earth Balance

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 10-inch diameter cake pan (one with high sides, at least 2 inches) with cooking spray. (I use Spectrum spray canola oil.)  Add the vinegar to the almond milk and give it a quick stir.  Set aside to curdle.

In a saucepan, combine the 1/2 cup brown sugar, Earth Balance and agave nectar.  Whick over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is bubbling at the edges, about 2 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Spread the syrup evenly in bottom of your oiled pan.  Arrange the pecans on top of that as evenly as you can.

Mix the 1/3 cup brown sugar, dates, cranberries and cinnamon in a small bowl until everything is combined.  Set this aside while you make the dough.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt until combined.  Add the diced Earth Balance and with clean hands, smoosh it all together using your fingertips until a coarse meal forms.  It's okay, really.  Using your fingers will give you a better biscuit texture, trust me on this one. Add the almond milk mixture  a little bit at a time, and mix using a fork until you've incorporated it all.  Add more if the dough is still dry.  You want a moderately sticky dough, so don't be afraid to use up to 1 cup of liquid.  Once it's combined, make a little ball out of the dough (don't knead it, just get it into one pile for rolling.)

Flour the heck out of your countertop or some parchment paper.  Knead the dough once or twice into the flour just so it's not too sticky to roll out.  Roll the dough out into a rectangle, roughly about 16"x8".  You won't be tested on this, so don't worry about being exact.  Brush the dough with the melted Earth Balance all the way to the edges.  Sprinkle the date and sugar mixture evenly over the dough, pressing it down lightly but firmly so you don't have a bunch of loose sugar hanging around.  Starting at one of the long sides, start to roll up the dough like a jelly roll.  Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces (you can even get 12 out of this if you want smaller pieces.  Keep in mind the dough will almost double as it cooks.)

Place the dough, cut side down in the pan as evenly spaced as possible.  It's totally fine if the dough is touching or if it isn't.  Press each roll down a little bit to slightly flatten it.  Brush some more melted Earth Balance on top or just give the tops a quick spray of oil.

Bake for about 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let the pan sit for about 1 minute.  Place a plate or platter over your pan.  Using oven mitts, hold the pan and plate together and invert.  Lift the pan off and scrape whatever syrup and pecans are left back onto the tops of the biscuits.  Let them cool for at least 5-10 minutes before eating.