Black Pepper Biscuits

Monday 3 October 2011

Black Pepper Biscuits

I grew up in the land of biscuits . . . no they were not cookie. Cookies are called biscuits over here in the UK) 

Rather they were beautiful, flakey, and savoury (only very rarely sweet) quick breads quite similar in texture and flavour to what is called a scone over here.

Black Pepper Biscuits

Some might question the difference between a scone and biscuit.  There has been a great deal of debate over this very topic.  I would have to say as subtle as it is . . . it is there. 

A scone will use butter and either cream or soured/plain milk, whereas in North America biscuits use either shortening or lard and buttermilk or plain milk, are less sweet and more savoury.

They can have things like cheese, bacon, onions/scallions and sometimes ham in them. Scones can have these things in them as well, although I would say that then they are more like biscuits than scones. 

Does that make sense? I know, very confusing to say the least.

Black Pepper Biscuits

Another difference is in the way the fat is added. Here in the UK the fat is most always rubbed into the flour with the fingertips.

In  North America it is "cut" in . . . using a pair of forks, two double bladed knives or a pastry blender.

Black Pepper Biscuits 

Both benefit from using a light hand when preparing them.  Both rise although I would have to say that Biscuits are usually flaky whilst scones have a more crumbly texture.

Biscuits are meant to be eaten hot or warm from the oven. Scones are almost always eaten cold.

I say Vive la difference! Both are beautiful and scrummy and moreishly delicious and both have their uses!

Black Pepper Biscuits

Today I baked some beautiful Black Pepper Biscuits.

I wanted to serve them with some good cheese and some of my latest batch of homemade Spicy Plum Chutney

 Oh my . . . they went down a real treat.

Black Pepper Biscuits

The biscuits were flakey, savoury and peppery, which went beautifully with the cheese and chutney. These would be great served with some smoked gammon or slices of crisp bacon as well . . . and cheese of course! 

I think they would make great little chicken salad sandwiches and would also be a lovely host to egg mayonnaise!

Black Pepper Biscuits

Just look at that beautiful texture. 

I just can't think of anything that wouldn't taste better sitting on top of one of these, split, buttered and warm from the oven, or a bowl of soup that wouldn't be enhanced by their presence! Enjoy!!

Black Pepper Biscuits

*Black Pepper Biscuits (Scones)
Makes 16 to 18 (2 inch) biscuits
Printable Recipe

Beautifully fluffy and peppery. Perfect to serve with chutney's, cheeses, salty meats (bacon, ham, proscuitto) or with hot soups and stews.

8 ounces plain flour (2 1/4 cups) divided
1 TBS Baking Powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 to 1 TBS freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces chilled vegetable shortening,
divided into 2 ounce lots (1/4 cup and 1/4 cup)
250ml of cold buttermilk (1 cup)
softened butter for brushing

Preheat the oven to 230*C/450*F. Lightly butter a large baking sheet. Set aside.

Remove 8/10 of an ounce of flour (1/4 cup) and set aside. Whisk the remaining flour together in a large wide bowl with the baking powder, soda, salt and black pepper. Add half of the shortening in bits and then work it into the flour using a pastry blender, two forks or two round bladed knives. The mixture should look like well crumbled feta cheese. Scatter the remainder of the shortening over top in bits and continue to work in with your fingertips, until you have no pieces which are larger than a pea. Shake the bowl occasionally to move any bigger bits up from the bottom. Do not over work.

Make a deep hollow in the centre of this mixture and add about 3/4 of the buttermilk, reserving some for later if needed. Stir in with a fork, using broad strokes to quickly pull the flour into the milk. Mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Sprinkle the remaining flour onto a clean surface. Turn the dough out onto it and turn to lightly coat. Pat lightly into a round which is 1/2 inch in depth. Brush any visible flour off the top. Cut into 2 inch rounds with a round biscuit cutter, using a sharp tap up and down, remembering not to twist the cutter. (Twisting results in a lop-sided biscuit.) You can pull the scraps back together to cut out additional biscuits. They will not be quite as tender as the first ones, but good all the same. Place onto the baking sheet, leaving some space in between each.

Bake for 6 minutes in the upper third of the oven. Rotate the pan and bake for an additional 4 to 6 minutes, until they are a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush the tops with some softened butter. Serve hot.

Black Pepper Biscuits 

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  1. I like them both!

    Susan and Bentley
    @ Ash Tree Cottage

  2. Oh, I like these... I like a lot of black pepper, so must try these, and soon too! YUM! Happy Day, dear Marie--LOVE YOU LOTS ((BIG HUGS))

  3. Oh, yum! I love both scones AND biscuits way to much! And yes--there really IS a difference! (I think you explained it very well, Marie!)

    These look delicious--never tried them seasoned with pepper--it looks glorious with cheese and your chutney!

    Wishing you the start of a beautiful week, dear friend...and sending loads of love your way this early fall morning...


  4. What's in a name, scones or biscuits, these little beauties look fabulous and I am a savoury lover anyway, so black pepper gets my vote Marie!
    Bet they are super with soup too.....!!

  5. I think I'm quite American (USA) - but I use butter and I mix it in with my fingers - the same way my mother did. So that difference doesn't work for me. I occasionally put sour cream in mine also. And sometimes sugar. For me scones are heavier - not flakey - but quite good.


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