Hot Cross Biscuits


Apparently my Grammy made much more than just biscuits and pies and “Frenched” green beans. She also only served broccoli with hollandaise, always made her own bread and tended a beautiful garden that yielded an enormous bounty of fresh veggies. In the words of my mom, her adoring daughter “  My Mom grew up in poverty - emotional and financial - and her childhood home was chaotic.  No-one cooked or cleaned and there was never enough food.  So her home had to be perfect.  She was remarkable.”

Hot Cross Biscuits

She was remarkable. And while she may have made a slew of other delicious foods, I will always think of her biscuits (“cloud biscuits” because they are heavenly and light). They were magnificent.

These are just a slight variation, I use butter instead of shortening, because I suspect she might have too, if it wasn’t for budgeting. And here of course, I’ve added some spices and currants to the mix, and topped them with an icing cross to be festive. But they are none the less my Grammy’s cloud biscuits, and they are remarkable, much like their creator.

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Hot Cross Biscuit

  • 2 cups AP Flour
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Ground Ginger
  • ½ tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 4 tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ cup Butter, cut into small cubes.
  • ½ cup Currants
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2/3 cup Buttermilk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Yolk
  • 1 cup Icing Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

In a large mixing bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients.

Toss in the butter and using your hands (or a pastry cutter) and break the butter up into pea-sized pieces.

Add the egg to the buttermilk and whisk it until combined.

Add the liquids into the flour mixture and stir until it just starts to come together.

Add in the currants and press the dough out, and then fold it in half. Repeat this 5-10 more times until the dough has lots of layers and has formed a cohesive dough, but remains very soft- as soon as you start to feel the dough resisting stop.

On a lightly floured surface press the dough down so that it is ¾ inch thick. Cut the dough into circles- do not twist when you do this! Go straight up and down!

Put the circles on a parchment lined tray and put them in your freezer for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Mix the yolks with 1 tbsp of water. Brush the egg wash on all of the biscuits and bake for 20 minutes, or until the outsides are nicely browned. Allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile mix together the icing sugar and vanilla extract with 1 tsp of water. Put in a piping bag (or a Ziploc with a hole cut in it) and pipe on the crosses.

Eat immediately!

Cinnamon Roll Biscuits


People always ask me what my favourite thing is to bake. I tell them I’m a baker and it’s the first question. And here’s the thing of it; I never know what to say.

There are things that I don’t love baking- macarons for instance, which are delicious and wonderful, are also the bane of my existance. Puff pastry, with it’s tedious rolling and folding would fall into that category, but favourites? They’re harder to come by.

But recently I’ve decided. They’re something friends always ask me to make, and then continue to talk about long after the last one has been scarfed up, and they’re something I genuinely really enjoy making.


Guys, I’m willing to put it down into the internet, a place where things are never deleted. I make great biscuits, and I love making them.

The simple act of cutting in the butter, folding in the buttermilk, pressing out the dough with my finger tips. They are my favourite. I love them.

Which is a good thing, because man oh man, have I made a lot of biscuits lately. I’d say about 300 last week alone.


See I work for a Southern restaurant which opened up last week as a pop up fried chicken shack. And what is fried chicken without biscuits? Not much apparently, because those things were flying out of the kitchen. It was all biscuits all the time.

So with the scrappy bits that were left over and a bit to tough to serve, I rolled them out , sprinkled them with cinnamon and brown sugar and rolled them up. They’re like the cookies my mom used to make with left over pie dough, except much, much, bigger and fluffier.

And seriously, those things were delicious. Like, proper, all kinds of wonderful, I will sell these one day when I open a bakery, delicious.

They were one part biscuit, one part cinnamon bun, and all parts fantastic. So there you go.

Biscuits, they are my favourite, whether for dinner, or for breakfast, or for shoving in your face when they’re covered in cinnamon and sugar and still hot from the oven.


Cinnamon Roll Biscuits

Adapted from the Tartine Bakery Cookbook

3 3/4 cup AP Flour

1 tbsp Baking Powder

3/4 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Salt

1/4 cup Sugar

1 1/2 cups Buttermilk

1 cup Butter, very cold, cut into small cubes


1 cup Brown Sugar

2 tbsp Cinnamon

Egg Wash:

1 egg yolk

1tbsp Cream/milk

Preheat your oven to 375F

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and white sugar.

Put in the cold butter and with your hands break the butter into pieces. You want the butter to be in big pieces and very cold- it’s this cold big butter that goes into the hot oven and causes steam which makes the biscuits rise. The pieces of butter should be somewhere between a pea and a fava bean.

Slowly add in the buttermilk and fold it in gently, adding more if you need it, to make the dough just come together. Make sure your scooping all the dry bits from the bottom of the bowl.

On a well floured surface fold the dough, flatten it out, and fold it again, about 5 times until the dough has come together nicely but isn’t getting firm.

With a rolling pin roll out the dough to about 3/4 inch thick, being liberal with the flour so it doesn’t stick.

Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon on top and roll up the dough into a log.

Cut the dough into 2 inch pieces.

Put on a baking tray and refridgerate for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl mix together the egg yolk and the milk/cream.

With a pastry brush, brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash and put into the oven right away.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops are starting to brown and your whole house smells incredible.

Let cool for at least 10 minutes before digging in!

Tuesday Tutorials- The Best Biscuits

The second instalment in my new weekly column, where I talk about food basics, and give you the step by step know-how to do it at home.

The restaurant where I work recently started to do brunch, and before we opened I was chatting with the chef about what kinds of pastries he might want. The original idea was croissants which, despite obviously being delicious, are also so tedious to make, especially in a kitchen with as little counter space as ours, so I threw out the idea of making biscuits.

This did not go over.

Biscuits are dry, biscuits are bland, biscuitsare over done, and never delicious.

So I, being the super competitive person that I am, decided to make him some. I made savoury biscuits, ones with chunks of cheddar and dots of scallions, and let the restaurant fill up with the smell of cooking butter and melting cheese. And then I dared him not to like them.

He is not the first person I have converted to a biscuit lover, but if we’re being real here, most of this credit can go to my Grammy.

Grammy made “Cloud Biscuits”, light, airy, full of layers and always moist. Growing up they were always made with fish chowder, or if we were lucky, for breakfast. Hers was a different recipe than this, because hers was a different time. In the Great Depression butter was a serious luxury, so the cloud biscuits were always made with shortening, and just a tablespoon or so of the good stuff to give it flavour. But it was the texture that got me hooked.

Which is funny, because most people complain about the texture, they think dry, over cooked, bland. So here is THE way to make the perfect biscuit.

Let’s start out with a couple basics first

  • The way you get layers is by using big chunks of really cold butter. When that cold butter goes into the hot oven it produces steam, and if you have the right formations of butter you get perfect light fluffy biscuits.

  • You need to knead, but not too much. Flour has gluten in it, and gluten will make your biscuits tough. But you need to knead your dough in order to get in the layers. This means really feeling the dough, as you knead it when it starts to get tough, it’s time to stop.

  • Use good ingredients. If your going to add cheese to your biscuit, make it good aged cheese. There are only a few things in your biscuits, make sure they’re adding something.

  • Be creative! There are a million things you can do to a biscuit, don’t limit yourself and have fun with the possibilities!


(Adapted from the Tartine Bakery Cookbook)

4 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour

1tbsp Baking Powder

1tsp Baking Soda

11/2 tsp Salt

1/4 cup Sugar

1cup Unsalted Butter, very cold, cut into cubes

1 3/4 cup Buttermilk


1 Egg Yolk

1tbsp Cream, milk, or buttermilk


1 1/2 cup Aged Cheddar, chopped

1 bunch Scallions

In a large bowl mix together all the dry ingredients.

Add in the butter and with your hands, or a pastry scraper, break the butter up into lima bean sized pieces, or about the size of your pinky finger nail.

Add in any flavourings, in these ones I used cheddar and scallions, but the world is your oyster on this one.

Carefully pour the buttermilk in and mix it with a spatula or spoon until it just begins to come together.

Push the dough down with the palms of your hands and then fold the dough in half. Continue doing this 4-6 times or until you just start to feel resistance.

Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 3/4 inch thick.

Cut the dough out into whatever shapes you like, traditionally savoury are round and sweet ones are cut into triangles.

Put them on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper and put them in the freezer for 15 minutes.

While the biscuits are chilling preheat your oven to 400F

Take the biscuits out of the freezer and brush the tops with your egg wash.

Put them in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350F

Don’t open the door for the first 12 minutes, afterwards you can open it and turn the pan so that it cooks evenly.

After about 20 minutes the tops should be nicely browned and you should be able to see a significant rise. Allow to cool before eating.

Birds Nest Scones- AKA Coconut and Jam Scones

It’s the time of year where my apartment starts filling up with canned goods. I swear it’s by osmosis, I couldn’t possibly spend this many hours, this often, making preserves and yet there they are, slowly taking over cupboards and shelves, the pickles(!), the peppers(!), the peaches(!). It gets out of control.

This is the sort of thing that drives someone a bit batty at times, but in the winter when all is dark, this is a glorious glorious thing, one that should not to be scoffed at.

However, it is also the time of year where scrap bits of jams begin to accumulate. The parts that don’t quite fill a jar, so get pushed into old jars and thrown in the fridge where I begin to forget about them. I do, I’ll confess to that.

So lately I’ve been trying to use up these scrappy bits, sandwich them with cookies, spread them on the morning toast, or today, bake them into scones.

My favourite way is to put them into birds nest cookies, you know, the coconut ones with the raspberry jelly in the middle. But today I didn’t feel like cookies, I felt like breakfast, and while there is definitely overlap there, birds nest cookies lie firmly on the side of unhealthy inappropriate breakfast choices. So instead, I made coconut scones and put a big blob of jam in there. It’s like having someone put jam on your scone for you, and it’s also like eating a cookie for breakfast. By which I mean, it’s the best thing ever. And you should probably make these. Stat.

1 cup AP Flour

1/2 cup Spelt flour/whole wheat flour/AP flour, whatever you prefer

2 tbsp Baking Powder

1 cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

1/4 tsp Salt

1/2 cup Butter, very cold, chopped into cubes

2/3 cup Coconut Milk

1/2 cup Jam (any flavour you like)

Preheat oven to 400F

In a medium sized bowl mix together all the dry ingredients.

Add in the butter and mix with your hands until the pieces of butter are the sizes of large peas.

Add in the coconut milk and mix until just combined.

Carefully mix in any bits of flour that are on the bottom of the bowl by folding the dough a few times, in half pressing it down, then folding it in half again. You’ll want to do this at least 5 or 6 times. If the dough gets wet add a speck more coconut milk.

Chill dough for at least 20 minutes.

Remove from freezer and divide into 6 pieces.

Without squishing or removing the layers you’ve just folded in shape them into circles and then press deep imprints in the middle. I don’t think I added enough, so if your judging by the pictures above, I’d use a bit more.

Divide the jam in the middle of the scones and chill for another 10 minutes.

Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the tops are getting golden brown and the jam has set a bit in the middle.

Allow to cool slightly before serving!

Hazelnut Scones with Macerated Cherries and Vanilla Whip Cream

A few years ago I ran the kitchen of a wonderful cafe called Little Nest. It’s a small restaurant with a full kitchen that makes only breakfast and lunch, and about half the menu changes daily. I had never run a kitchen before, never written my own specials before, never done the ordering before, never done the hiring before. To say I was in over my head was a serious understatement.

And while everyone was very patient in my slow understanding of how it all works, it’s important when your feeling entirely under qualified for a job to have a trick or two up your sleeve.

I call this the Amelia Bedelia.

You know the kids book about the maid who takes everything literally? She puts sponges in sponge cakes, and when asked to dress the turkey she puts it in childrens clothes. She absolutely makes a mess of her employers house BUT she always has just a little bit of extra time and she always bakes the most amazing pies. So. When the Mr. And Mrs. Rogers come home and freak out they eat the pie and all is forgiven. I think this book had an alarmingly large effect on me as a child.

So at Little Nest my Amelia Bedelia was pasta. It changed everyday but it was always dang good. And I gave one to the owner and manager nearly every day for a month and they decided I would be okay in the end.

Thank God.

So for the last few months I’ve been running on nearly nothing but adrenaline because I’ve been working so much and I will admit some very stupid mistakes have been made. Silly silly things, so silly I’m to embarassed to tell you, BUT fortunately I make killer scones. You know, they are super light and fluffy and with layer upon layer of butter flakeyness and that my friends, is my Amelia Bedelia.

Even though, my boss certainly doens’t always notice them, I do, and it give me the confidence when I feel dreadful (and maybe put coriander into the 10 times batch of cardamon cookies accidentally) I know that at very least I can do one thing very well. And that means that with some practise I can do other things very well.

I hope.

So, now that I’ve quit my second job and am focusing on not making stupid mistakes at the one job that’s actually important to me, I thought I’d make some scones for a girlfriend who came over for brunch the other day.

Light fluffy, flakey scones, these ones full of hazelnuts and then cut in half and stuffed full of fresh cherries and whipping cream.

Because if that isn’t going to save your job and make you feel a hundred times better, well, I don’t know what will.

Hazelnut Scones with Macerated Cherries and Vanilla Whip Cream

For the Scones:

4 cups AP Flour

1 tbsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Baking Soda

1 1/2 cups Hazelnuts

1 cup Butter, very cold

1 1/2 cups Buttermilk

Vanilla Whip Cream:

1/2 cup Whipping Cream

2 tbsp Icing Sugar

1/2 Vanilla Bean, or 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Macerated Cherries:

1 1/2 cups Good, Ripe Cherries, cut in half and pitted.

2 tbsp Granulated Sugar

To Make Scones:

Preheat oven to 375F

Put hazelnuts in a single layer on a tray and bake until they turn a pretty auburn colour and smell very fragrant.

Using a towel try to scrub off the loose pieces of skin.

Grind them up very fine in a food processor and then measure out 1 cup.

Cut up the butter into cubes

In a bowl mix all the dry ingredients and then cut in the butter, breaking it up with your hands until the butter is in chunks, roughly the size of your baby fingernail.

Pour in the buttermilk and mix gently until it is almost combined.

Then put it out onto a cutting board or counter and gently push it down, fold it in half, push it down, fold it in half until your dough is cohesive, but not at all tough. As soon as you start to feel a resistance, stop.

Cut into circles and put on a tray, then put the tray in the fridge to cool for at least 20 minutes. You get nice flaky scones because the big pieces of butter which are very cold go into the hot oven and the change of temperature makes the butter produce steam which causes the layers.  So it’s important to let them chill.

Brush with a little extra buttermilk or cream and sprinkle some brown sugar on top if you’d like.

Get them into that oven right away and bake until the tops are nice and brown.

Meanwhile mix those cherries and sugar together and them sit and meddle and be happy together.

Whip the cream with the sugar and the vanilla (sorry i forgot to take a picture of that!)

And then break a scone in half, plop some cherries down put a dollop of whip cream on top and top oit with the other half of scone and hot damn thats a good breakfast, lunch, or dessert.