Vegan “Buttermilk” Fried “Chicken”

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In case you weren’t aware, writing recipes is quite the process indeed. Throughout said process, I’ll oftentimes end up with a sheet of paper that frankly looks as though someone who was possessed (and had a pen) got their hands on it. Now, I can only really focus on so many recipes at a time so most of the these chicken scratch papers end up getting tossed into a big ol’ pile waiting for their day to be perfected and shared with all y’all. Well, the other day, one recipe that’s been sitting in that pile since I started my blog finally got it’s day to shine.

When I hit the 10 pounds lost mark last weekend, I decided that I was going to give myself a cheat day and there was only one thing on my mind: fried “chicken.” This recipe, like I said a minute ago, had been in the pile o’ recipes since I started this blog in January. It just kept getting left behind in favor of other recipes which were a little less daunting. I mean, homemade vegan “meats” of any kind are serious business -fake meats have got to deliver. Despite my consternation though, I so desperately wanted to get it done for my cheat day so I got busy tweaking the recipe to perfection. A few batches later I had done it and was able to eat what I was craving for my cheat day. #DeliciousDeliciousSuccess

My fried “chicken” recipe is very traditional. You have your “chicken” pieces (made mostly of textured vegetable protein and vital wheat gluten for comparable protein values to actual chicken), a buttermilk-esque bath, and then a dredge (flour with salt, pepper, and just 2 other seasonings). Once coated, each piece is fried then finished off in the oven. The end result is something that has a nice meaty mouth feel and is perfectly seasoned. I could definitely see (if I wasn’t dieting) pairing up these fried little lovelies with my white gravy, biscuits, and mac-n-cheese for a picnic, or with waffles. #Drooling

It all gets started with some prep. The textured vegetable protein (aka TVP) is going to get plumped up with a little vegetable stock so that it’s ready for us in a moment when we make our “chicken.”

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We also need to prep the buttermilk-esque bath as well as the dredge. The buttermilk-esque bath is simply a combination of unsweetened almond milk and vinegar -use either normal vinegar for this or white wine vinegar. The dredge is all-purpose flour with some salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder mixed in. Whip up the bath and the dredge each in their own bowl then set them aside for a moment so that we can make our “chicken” mixture.

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For the “chicken” mixture, stir the TVP, vital wheat gluten, and seasonings together just until combined. You’ll want to make sure that you’re not overworking this mixture otherwise your “chicken” will be a little tough and chewy and ain’t nobody got time for tough and chewy “chicken.” Let this mixture to rest for a moment to allow the gluten to properly set.

Now would be a great time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep a small sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. You will also want to get a frying pan (cast iron is best for heat retention) ready by adding enough oil to shallow fry -about a half of an inch. Get the oil heating up to about medium heat (low to mid 300s). While the oil is heating up you can start forming your “chicken” pieces.

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Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out some of your “chicken” mixture and plop it down into your hand. Using your fingers and palms, press and work the piece just for a moment to compact it and form it into a flattened ball about an inch and a half thick. Dip the piece into the almond milk mixture we made earlier, making sure it’s been nicely coated with the liquid, then roll it in the flour dredge to cover the piece entirely. Repeat to make the first 4 (of 8 total) pieces -I’ll explain this in just a second.

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Before you gently place your pieces into the frying pan using a fork, test that the oil is at the correct temperature by dropping in a pinch of of your plain “chicken” mixture. If it begins to bubble and sizzle immediately, without quickly fading, then the oil is ready. If it doesn’t do any of that then you’ll need to turn the heat up just a little.

Once the oil is ready you may begin frying. Place no more than 4 pieces into the oil at a time so as to not crowd the pan. Fry each piece for about 5 minutes on each side then, when done, place onto the sheet pan you prepped earlier. Repeat the scooping, forming, dipping, dredging, and frying process until no “chicken” mixture remains.

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Once all of the pieces have been fried and are on the prepped sheet pan, bake them for 20 minutes, flipping the pieces over at the halfway point. When done, let cool for 5 minutes (off the pan) then serve immediately for the best eating experience.

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Vegan 'Buttermilk' Fried 'Chicken'

  • Servings: 8 pieces (enough for 3-4 people)
  • Time: 65 minutes
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP) + 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk + 2 teaspoons vinegar (normal or white wine)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour + 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • oil for frying (canola oil works great)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine TVP with vegetable broth, stir then set aside. In another small bowl, combine almond milk with vinegar, stir then set aside. In 1 more small bowl, combine flour with 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, stir then set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the re-hydrated TVP with the vital wheat gluten and 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder to create the “chicken” mixture. Stir mixture with a fork just until combined. Allow mixture to rest for about 3 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a small sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. Prepare a frying pan (cast iron is best for heat retention) by filling it with enough oil to shallow fry -about half an inch of oil. Get the oil heating up to about medium heat (low to mid 300s). While the oil is heating up you can start forming your “chicken” pieces. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out some of your “chicken” mixture and plop it down into your hand. Using your fingers and palms, press and work the piece just for a moment to compact it and form it into a flattened ball about an inch and a half thick. Dip the piece into the almond milk mixture we made earlier, making sure it’s been nicely coated with the liquid, then roll it in the flour mixture we made earlier to cover the piece entirely. Repeat to make the first 4 pieces -we will only be frying 4 pieces at a time so no need to make all 8 pieces at the moment.
  4. By now the oil in your frying pan should be at the correct temperature but test the oil to be sure by dropping in a pinch of of your plain “chicken” mixture. If it begins to bubble and sizzle immediately, without quickly fading, then it’s ready. If it doesn’t do any of that then you’ll need to turn the heat up just a little before placing your “chicken” pieces in. Once the oil is ready you may begin frying by gently placing your “chicken” pieces down into the oil using a fork or spider skimmer. Place no more than 4 pieces into the oil at a time so as to not crowd the pan. Fry each piece for about 5 minutes on each side then, when done, place onto the sheet pan you prepared earlier. Repeat the scooping, forming, dipping, dredging, and frying process until no “chicken” mixture remains.
  5. When all of your “chicken” pieces have been fried and are on the sheet pan, place the sheet pan into your preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, flipping the pieces over at the halfway point. When done, let the pieces cool for 5 minutes (off the pan) and then serve immediately for the best eating experience. Any uneaten pieces can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. To reheat, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 3-5 minutes -just until warmed throughout.

Vegan Bourbon Whiskey Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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Here’s the 1st of 2 declarative statements in this post: I hate pineapple upside-down cake.

Yeah, you read that right! My mom, on the other hand, loves it. It’s one of her favorite desserts so it was high time I set about making her a vegan version that would take the cake -pun intended! Now here’s the thing about my mom, it takes a lot for her to call something, “great,” or, “perfect,” but those were the exact words she used to describe this cake so you better believe it’s something to try -if you’re a fan of pineapple upside-down cake, I mean.

Ready for the 2nd declarative statement of this post? Here it is: I don’t drink alcohol -like ever.

While I’m not a drinker (by personal choice) I do like to cook and bake with certain adult beverages from time to time. I find that they can really help amplify flavor, and add complexity, when used in moderation. Now I say moderation not because you’re going to get your family and friends plastered if you use too much (the alcohol does actually cook out), but rather because people tend to not enjoy super boozy recipes. Too much alcohol, just like too much salt or any other ingredient, can ruin a recipe in a heartbeat.

“But, Heather,” you might be asking, “if you don’t drink then how do you even know what flavor you’re adding to your recipe in the 1st place?” It’s called Google, my friends. There are plenty of sites out there which help break down the flavor complexities of things like champagne, red wine, and bourbon whiskey. Some even go so far as to tell you which flavors pair well with the adult beverage you’re looking into. I also happen to be surrounded by people who absolutely are willing to take a swig of something and tell me all about it. Sounds a little sketchy, I know, but it all absolutely works and this lovely little cake is proof of that!

To get started, we need to whip up some egg replacer (my favorite, Ener-G) so that it’ll be ready for us to use in a minute. Normally I’d be telling you to follow the instructions on the box, which says to use warm water to hydrate the Ener-G, however this time we’re doing things a little differently -a little more badass, one might say. We’re hydrating the Ener-G with bourbon whiskey! Oh yeah, you can do that, and we just did. #MicDrop

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Next, in a mixing bowl, the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) get whisked together until smooth. Then I add the almond milk, sugar, pineapple juice (stolen from our can of pineapple slices), egg substitute, and the vanilla, and stir to combine. Now set the cake batter aside for a moment to prepare the pan for it.

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For this cake you’ll need a 10-inch round pan. Spray it generously with nonstick spray and then, while holding the pan upright, sprinkle a little flour around the edges of the pan. The goal here is to have the bottom of the pan greased and the sides both greased and floured to prevent the cake from sticking.

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In the bottom of your prepared pan you’re going to pour in some melted vegan butter. Swirl it around the pan to make sure it sits evenly in the bottom then add in the brown sugar ensuring that it too is even across the pan. On top of that goodness, lay down the pineapple slices and, in the center of each, a maraschino cherry.

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Now grab the batter we made earlier and gently pour that into the pan. Get your cake into a preheated oven and bake it for about 45 minutes.

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You’ll know it’s done when the edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan and the top, soon to be bottom, is golden brown. Let the cake rest in the pan for 5 minutes.

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After 5 minutes has passed, it’s time to turn that bad boy out! My preferred method for doing this is to sandwich the cake pan in between to large sheet pans with the sheet pan the cake is about to be flipped onto lined in parchment paper. Pinching the sheet pans tightly together so that the cake pan cannot move in between them, give the whole thing a quick flip then carefully remove the top sheet pan and the cake pan to reveal your upside-down cake!

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Vegan Bourbon Whiskey Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

  • Servings: 1, 10-inch round cake, serving 6-8
  • Time: 60 minutes
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Ener-G egg substitute + 1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
  • 1 1/2 cups flour + more for pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice (from can of pineapple slices)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 7 slices of pineapple (a 20-ounce can will provide more than enough slices and juice for this recipe)
  • 7 maraschino cherries
  • Nonstick cooking spray for pan

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare egg substitute by combining Ener-G powder with bourbon whiskey. Stir well then set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour with baking powder and salt. Whisk until smooth then add in the almond milk, sugar, pineapple juice, egg substitute, and vanilla. Whisk to combine then set aside.
  3. Prepare a 10-inch round pan by spraying it with nonstick spray then, while holding the pan upright, sprinkle a little flour around the inner edges to coat just the edges (not the bottom) lightly with flour. Shake out any excess flour.
  4. Pour melted vegan butter into pan. Swirl it around in the bottom of the pan to ensure an even layer and then sprinkle in the brown sugar, by hand, also making sure that it is even across the bottom of the pan. Lay down a layer of pineapple slices (7 slices to be exact) in the bottom of the pan and then place a maraschino cherry in the center of each pineapple ring. Gently pour cake batter into pan then bake for 45 minutes. The cake will be done when edges are pulling away from pan sides, cake top (soon to be the bottom) is golden brown, and a toothpick stuck halfway down into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Let finished cake rest in pan for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn cake out being very careful as it will still be very hot. (Read in post about how I prefer to do this!) Cake will keep in an airtight container on counter for up to 3 days.

Vegan Southern-Style Biscuits & Gravy

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About a month and a half ago I shared with y’all my recipe for Vegan Southern-Style Biscuits and my-oh-my did they become beloved in a hurry. Now of course they’re delicious all by themselves but there is one particular way that I enjoy eating them and that’s under generous amounts of glorious gravy -can I get an Amen?! In making my gravy I like to use a little something special to boost the flavor. What is that little something special you ask? Magic!

(Hilarious side note speaking of magic: I once had a dream that me and David Blaine were set to be married but he wanted to bail on me so we went to the Dr. Phil show to have him help us with our premarital problems. Dr. Phil got David to admit the reason why he didn’t want to marry me and that was because he felt that I wasn’t “magic enough.” #OhTheCrazyShitIDreamAbout #MrsDavidBlaine #OrNot)

Okay… now back to the real magic. Magic in the form of Bragg Organic Sprinkle, that is! This stuff has literally everything in it, 24 herbs and spices in total, and it’s really good. It takes what could have been just a basic gravy and transforms it into anything but basic. Now even though the Sprinkle makes this gravy pretty flavorful for a white gravy, it’s not overpowering so you’ll still be able to taste those big beautiful biscuits underneath.

As for said biscuits, you’ll need to click on over to that using the link above. There you’ll find pictures of the process, and of course the recipe, so that you can whip up the 1st part of this 2 part dish. The 2nd part, the gravy, is right here…

To get started on the gravy, put 1 stick (yes, you read that right) of vegan butter into a large saucepan, or large cast-iron skillet should you want to get really southern with it, and let it melt down over medium heat. Once melted, add some flour (exact measurements are in the recipe below) and then whisk the mixture until bubbling and kind of foamy looking. (If you’ve seen some of my recipes thus far then you’re more than familiar with this process!)

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The next step is to add the almond milk and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for just about a minute or so and then reduce the heat to simmer.

You should be whisking or stirring the mixture the whole way through this process, just so you know. A gravy should never be left unsupervised or it’s likely to act out or burn. It’s naughty like that.

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As the mixture begins to thicken, add in the seasonings being sure to crush the Sprinkle good in the palm of your hand, or in a mortar and pestle, before adding it.

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Cook the mixture a little longer and that’s pretty much it -you’ve got gravy! Plop it over some biscuits and enjoy!

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Vegan Southern-Style Biscuits & Gravy

  • Servings: 7 biscuits & about 4 cups of gravy (that's a little over a half of a cup of gravy for each biscuit)
  • Time: 30 minutes
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan or cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt vegan butter. Once melted, add flour and whisk mixture until bubbling and kind of foamy in appearance, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add in almond milk and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, boil for about a minute whisking or stirring frequently. Reduce heat to simmer and add crushed Bragg Organic Sprinkle, black pepper, and salt. Continue to cook mixture, stirring occasionally, on low-med. heat for another 10-15 minutes.
  3. When gravy is done, serve over biscuits. Gravy will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 4 days, biscuits will keep in an airtight container on counter for up to 3 days.

Vegan Southern-Style Biscuits

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In case you weren’t aware, honey, I’m from the south. Albeit the southwest but still, the south. I’ve always wished that I was from the actual south where me saying “y’all” all the time wouldn’t garner funny looks but that just wasn’t the case -I was born in Phoenix. Despite this, I’d like to think that I’ve still got a little southern blood in me because some lucky ducks who lived long before I ever came along did actually live in the south. #FamilyTreeForTheWin

With my love for nearly all things southern and my desire to have been born a southern belle, surely I had to perfect the art of biscuit making because ain’t no southerner a proud one unless they can make a biscuit worth a damn. At least, that’s my belief anyway. So I set out to make the best vegan southern-style biscuits ever and you know what? After numerous attempts, recipe tweaks, and botched batches I think I have indeed come up with the best recipe for southern-style biscuits.

My biscuits are so good they’ll make you wanna slap yo’ mama -but please don’t be slappin’ yo’ mama. They’ll make you wanna sit on a front porch. Don’t have a front porch? Borrow your neighbors. These biscuits will make you say, “Lord, have mercy,” as you reach for another. And why will they make you do all of this?? Because they’re that good. They’re lightly flavored which means that they are perfect all by themselves or paired with say, gravy, or a jam, or vegan fried “chicken.” They’re not dry and crumbly like some biscuits can be and best of all they’re pretty easy to make, too.

To get started, first we are going to prepare the 2 liquid ingredients so that when we are ready to use them they are ready to be used. To prepare the ice cold water you’ll simply add ice to water -I mean, did I even need to explain that? To prepare our “buttermilk” you’re going to combine unsweetened almond milk with a little bit of vinegar and then give it a stir.

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The next step is to get the dry ingredients whisked together.

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Once the dry ingredients have been thoroughly combined you’re going to add in the “buttermilk” mixture, vegan butter, a little coconut oil, and some sugar. Using either 2 knives or what I have, a pastry cutter, you’re going to bring the biscuit dough together. As you’re doing this you’re going to add in a few tablespoons of the ice cold water we prepared earlier to help with this process.

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When the dough has come together it should look a little like the picture below. If you have some flour that didn’t quite work in don’t worry about it -just get the dough as combined as possible without A) overworking it, and B) adding too much water.

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You should be able to grab the dough, pinch it or press it, and see it hold together nicely.

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Turn out your biscuit dough onto a very lightly floured surface and work it a little, gently pressing the dough flat then folding it over onto itself and repeating the process. In doing this we’re creating layers in our biscuits and we are working in just a little more of the loose flour. Be sure to only do this for about a minute and no more than that because we don’t want to melt the butter and warm the dough with our hands.

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Press the dough out into a circle a little over an inch thick (I go for about an inch and a third or an inch and a half) then, using a round 3″ cookie cutter, cut out your biscuits. Be sure to not twist your cookie cutter as you press down because this action might result in biscuits that don’t rise as much as they should. You’ll likely need to re-form the dough once or twice in order to cut out all of your biscuits and that’s okay.

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Place your biscuits (you should have 7 of them) on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake ’em for 9 minutes.

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After they’ve baked for 9 minutes, take them out of the oven, flip each one over, and then brush them generously with some melted vegan butter. Now slide them back in the oven for a final 9 minutes.

At this point, you’re so close to having some south in your mouth that you’ll probably be drooling but try to contain yourself, darlin’, cause they’re almost done!

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When they’re done they’ll have tops that are the softest shade of golden brown. Enjoy ’em while they’re still warm or enjoy ’em a day or two later -either way you will enjoy ’em.

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Vegan Southern-Style Biscuits

  • Servings: about 7 biscuits
  • Time: 30 minutes
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Ice water
  • 1/2 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 cups self-rising flour, plus a little extra for your board
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter, slightly room temperature just to make it a little easier to work with, plus 2 additional separate tablespoons, melted, for brushing on the biscuits
  • 1 teaspoon refined coconut oil, solid
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. Prepare the liquids needed by adding ice to water in one dish or cup, and by adding the vinegar to the almond milk to create a “buttermilk” substitute in another dish or cup. Stir the “buttermilk” mixture to combine then set aside both it and the ice water until needed.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder, and whisk to break apart any lumps that you may have. Add in the “buttermilk” mixture, slightly room temperature vegan butter, coconut oil, and sugar. Using 2 knives or a pastry cutter, start to blend the dough together. As you’re bringing the dough together, add in about 4 tablespoons of ice water. If you have some flour that doesn’t quite work in don’t worry about it -just get the dough as combined as possible without overworking it or adding too much water. You’ll know the dough is ready when you can grab the dough, pinch it or press it, and see it hold together nicely.
  3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and work it a little, gently pressing the dough flat then folding it over onto itself and repeating the process to create layers in our biscuits and to work in just a little more of any loose flour you may have. Be sure to only do this for about a minute so that you don’t melt the butter and warm the dough with your hands.
  4. Press the dough out into a circle a little over an inch thick then, using a round 3″ cookie cutter, cut out your biscuits. Be sure to not twist your cookie cutter as you press down because this action might result in biscuits that don’t rise as much as they should. You’ll likely need to re-form the dough once or twice in order to cut out all of your biscuits and that’s okay. Place the biscuits onto your prepared sheet pan and bake them for 9 minutes.
  5. Remove the biscuits from the oven, flip each one over, then brush each generously with melted vegan butter. Put them back in the oven for an additional 9 minutes. When done, biscuits will keep on the counter in an airtight container for about 2-3 days.