Tea Biscuits

Do you love the smell of tea biscuits baking in the oven?  It’s one of my favorite kitchen scents.

My first recollection of biscuits dates back to visiting a grandmother.  She made the best biscuits, added a good slather of peanut butter to the warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven biscuits, and served them with a tall glass of cold milk to a wee gal patiently sitting on a high stool at her elbow by the cupboard.  I suspect her biscuit recipe was just made from memory and wasn’t written or recorded anywhere.  Isn’t it funny how some foods remind us of certain people and bring back great recollections!

Biscuits are not hard to make and they require only pantry staple ingredients — essentially, flour, leavening, salt, shortening/butter, and liquid – usually dairy (i.e., milk, whipping cream, or buttermilk).  What makes biscuit recipes differ is usually the quantity of ingredients used, the type of dairy used as liquid and, sometimes, there will be some additions to the basic ingredients – for example, some recipes call for cream of tartar, a small amount of sugar, or even an egg.

I often hear people say they can’t make biscuits because they always turn out hard as bricks.  I suspect this is quite likely due to over-kneading the dough.  Biscuit dough should be kneaded as little as possible, just enough to gather up the dough and have it hold together to cut out the biscuits.  Usually, only 8-10 kneads is all that is required.

Texture of biscuit
Texture of biscuit

The dough can be rolled out with a rolling pin or simply patted to the desired thickness, which is what I do.  I find about 1″ thick dough yields a good depth of biscuit.  I use a 2″ crinkled-edge cookie cutter for mine but a straight edge cutter works just as well.

Over the years, I have tried many biscuit recipes, some yielding good results, others not so much.  As the old saying goes, if you can’t find something already suitable, develop your own so that’s what I have done to create my own biscuit recipe that has come from many kitchen testing trials to arrive at the right selection and amount of ingredients to yield the flavour and texture I was looking for.

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Tea Biscuits

Ingredients:

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp cream of tartar
¼ cup cold unsalted butter
⅔ cup whipping cream
¾ cup whole milk

1-2 tbsp milk for brushing on top of biscuits

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Tea Biscuit Ingredients
Tea Biscuit Ingredients

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cream of tartar.

Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the ingredients.

In large measuring cup, mix together the whipping cream and milk. Pour into well in dry ingredients. Mix together just until flour mixture is incorporated. Do not overmix. Mixture will be a soft, moist batter.

Let batter stand in bowl for just a minute or so then turn out onto a floured surface. Knead dough 8-10 times, just until it holds together enough to cut out the biscuits. Do not over-knead.

Roll or pat to desired thickness – I suggest about 1” thick will yield a good depth of finished biscuit.

Using a 2” round floured cookie cutter, cut out biscuits.  Dip the cookie cutter in flour before cutting out each biscuit.

Gather up remaining dough, pat down to about 1” thick, and cut out the rest of the biscuits.

Using a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to prepared baking sheet, placing them about 2” apart. Prick tops of biscuits with fork tines and lightly brush with milk, if desired.

Bake for 14-16 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

Yield: Apx. 16 – 2” biscuits.

Tea Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • ¼ cup cold unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 1-2 tbsp milk for brushing on top of biscuits

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cream of tartar.
  3. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Make a well in the center of the ingredients.
  5. In large measuring cup, mix together the whipping cream and milk. Pour into well in dry ingredients. Mix together just until flour mixture is incorporated. Do not overmix. Mixture will be a soft, moist batter.
  6. Let batter stand in bowl for just a minute or so, then turn out onto a floured surface.
  7. Knead dough 8-10 times. Do not over-knead.
  8. Roll or pat to desired thickness, about 1” thick.
  9. Using a floured 2” round cookie cutter, cut out biscuits. Dip cutter in flour before cutting out each biscuit.
  10. Gather up remaining dough, pat down to about 1” thick, and cut out biscuits.
  11. Using a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to prepared baking sheet, placing them about 2” apart. Prick tops of biscuits with fork tines and lightly brush with milk, if desired.
  12. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
  13. Yield: Apx. 16 - 2" biscuits
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Cranberry Pancakes

Cranberry Pancakes
Cranberry Pancakes

I can find endless uses for cranberries – they are one of my favorite berries.  The berries in today’s recipe came from Mikita Farms in Farmington, near Souris, PEI.  You can see the photos of them wet harvesting the cranberries last fall by clicking here.  I bought a huge bag of cranberries because they freeze really well and I make a multitude of recipes with them throughout the year.

In this recipe, I use the cranberries in pancakes.  I have combined and blended four key ingredients in this recipe to give the pancakes a rich flavour – eggnog, mashed banana, grated orange rind, and cranberries.  The berries can either be fresh or frozen. I simply chop the berries in half before stirring them into the pancake batter.

Cranberry-Banana Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 extra large egg
2½ tbsp cooking oil
½ cup eggnog
½ cup whole milk
½ tsp vanilla
2 tbsp mashed banana
1 cup flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2½ tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp nutmeg
1½ tsp grated orange rind
¾ cup chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

In medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, eggnog, milk, and vanilla. Add the mashed banana.

In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and grated orange rind.

Whisk the dry ingredients together to mix thoroughly.

Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients. Stir just until combined.

Stir in cranberries.

Let batter sit for apx. 5 minutes before cooking pancakes. Batter will be lumpy.

Heat non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Use paper towel to lightly grease pan with oil.

Pour apx. ⅓ cup of batter into hot frying pan and cook pancakes until surface bubbles appear and the top appears dry and set. Gently lift the edge of a pancake – if it is lightly browned, flip the pancakes over with a wide spatula. Cook 1-2 minutes until pancake is lightly browned underneath.

Transfer pancakes to a heatproof plate or cookie sheet and place in oven set to warming temperature to keep pancakes warm while cooking remaining pancakes.

Serve with a pat of butter, maple syrup, or your favourite topping and fresh fruit.

Yield:  Apx. 8 – 5” pancakes

Cranberry Pancakes

Yield: Apx. 8 – 5” pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 extra large egg
  • 2½ tbsp cooking oil
  • ½ cup eggnog
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp mashed banana
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2½ tbsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1½ tsp grated orange rind
  • ¾ cup chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen

Instructions

  1. Assemble ingredients.
  2. In medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, eggnog, milk, and vanilla. Add the mashed banana.
  3. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and grated orange rind. Mix well.
  4. Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients. Stir just until combined. Stir in cranberries. Let batter sit for apx. 5 minutes before cooking pancakes. Batter will be lumpy.
  5. Heat non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Use paper towel to lightly grease pan with oil.
  6. Pour apx. 1/3 cup of batter into hot frying pan and cook pancakes until surface bubbles appear and the top appears dry and set. Gently lift the edge of a pancake – if it is lightly browned, flip the pancakes over with a wide spatula. Cook 1-2 minutes until pancake is lightly browned underneath.
  7. Transfer pancakes to a heatproof plate or cookie sheet and place in oven set to warming temperature to keep pancakes warm while cooking remaining pancakes.
  8. Serve with a pat of butter, maple syrup, or your favourite topping and fresh fruit.
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