Maritime Biscuits

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Maritime Biscuits.  These delicious quick breads are not cookies.  The British are very fond of calling their cookies biscuits. These delicious quick breads are not scones.

These delicious quick breads are biscuits in every sense of the North American definition of Biscuit.  They are a quick bread, meant to be enjoyed as a savoury part/side dish of a meal.  

But they are also quite different even when you are talking about North American Biscuits, because these biscuits contain yeast.  Not just soda and or baking powder.

Maritime Biscuits

These particular biscuits are very particular to the Maritime Provinces of Canada.  Those beautiful provinces anchored on the East Coast of my beautiful homeland, consisting of four provinces.

Newfoundland, an Island where my parents got married, also loving know as "The Rock."  Nova Scotia, where I say I am from.  A peninsula anchored by the Isthmus of Chebucto to mainland Canada. 

New Brunwswick, the part of Canada tha Nova Scotia is anchored to, and Prince Edward Island.  Island of my birth and home to Lucy Maude Montgomery and Anne of Green Gables.

That is the Maritimes in a nutshell and what I consider to be my home. No matter how far away from them I travel, or how long I am away, I consider myself a Maritimer at heart.

Maritime Biscuits

These Biscuits may be known by a variety of names.  Angel Biscuits is one.  French Biscuits is another.

My ex In-Laws lived on Prince Edward Island and we spent several weeks there in the summer months.  The community they lived in, Saint Eleanors, at that time was largely populated with retired Military folk.

My FIL had been a cook in the airforce. Both he and my MIL had been born and bred on the Island so it was quite natural for them to want to return there upon retirement, to spend their golden years.

Maritime Biscuits

There was an old guy and his wife that lived directly across from them. The Kenny's, also an armforced retiree couple.  They had Acadia ancestry, or at least Mrs. Kenny did.

Every summer when we arrived we could almost rely that within the first 24 hours Mrs Kenny would be sending over a bag of freshly baked French Biscuits as she called them, or Maritime Biscuits as is their proper name.


Maritime Biscuits

We were always thrilled to get them and most grateful.  I used to visit Mrs Kenny a couple of times during our visit to the Island.  She was a very short  and stout woman with silver hair, a great sense of humour and a heart of gold.  

Mr Kenny was also kind and quite a character!  One summer my children had picked strawberries and my FIL had sent them up at a small table at the end of the driveway so they could earn a bit of spending money selling them to the neighbours.  

Mr Kenny bought several boxes of them and them gave them back to the children so they could sell them all over again.  That was just his way. Kind, kind . . .

Maritime Biscuits

Skunks used to be a huge problem on the Island.  They probably still are.  I remember one year Mr Kenny had made a skunk trap for his front yard, with every intention of putting waste to whatever skunk he captured.

It became somewhat of a joke amongst the male retirees, this skunk trap.  Every morning Mr Kenny would inspect his trap and come up empty.

So one night the other retired fellows decided they would stick a stuffed teddy bear in the trap to get a rise out of him.  Sure enough, next morning with all of the excitement he could muster, Mr Kenny put laid waste to  . . .  the teddy bear. 

Filled that teddy bear full of buckshot he did.  It was the talk of the neighborhood for years and years.  Oh but they didn't all get  half get  bit of a rise out of that one!  I don't think he was ever able to live it down. He was destined to be Claude, teddy bear killer for year and years.  Good times! 

Maritime Biscuits

Mrs Kenny tried to show me how to make French Biscuits once. Like a lot of older cooks with family recipes, she was unable to give me exact measurements.  All I could do was to take note of what she did. But I was never quite able to get them the same.

One day I came across this recipe in a community cookbook for Maritime Biscuits. They sounded like to be exactly the same as the ones Mrs Kenny made. 

I had to write the recipe down. It went into my Big Blue Binder, like all the good recipes do. And I have been enjoying them ever since.

Maritime Biscuits

They have a beautiful flaky texture, like any good biscuit, and a nice rise.  But they rise a bit like a dinner roll would.

Not precisely up, and somewhat out.  They are lovely and light as air.  As light as an angel's wings some might say!

Maritime Biscuits

The dough can be somewhat sticky.  Try hard not to knead too much flour back into them when you are patting them out ready to cut.  Just be generous with the flour on the bottom and somewhat generous with the flour on top.

I dip my cutter into flour with every biscuit I cut so that it doesn't stick. I use a 3 inch round sharp cutter,straight edged.

Maritime Biscuits

Like any biscuit, do not twist them as you are cutting them.  A strong, straight up and down cut will do the trick.  You will need a spatula to lift them onto the baking sheet.

Do leave plenty of space between them for them to spread and rise.  Unless you are not bothered by soft sided biscuits.  We like our sides crisp, like our bacon.

Maritime Biscuits

If there is one downside to these biscuits it would have to be that they really are best eaten on the day. It is the same with any bread that contains yeast.

You can however, nicely refresh them the next day in a slow oven.  You can also freeze them, properly wrapped for several months if need be.

Maritime Biscuits

These are wonderful served warm, not long out of the oven.  Lovely with cold butter and preserves, or even peanut butter.

They are fantastic served with soups or salads.  They are also fantastic served with thick stews that have plenty of gravy to be mopped up.  These biscuits are perfect at mopping up.

Maritime Biscuits

To be honest, I enjoy them with anything and everything.  Yes, I am a carboholic.  Through and through. 

Don't be tempted to use butter in place of the shortening. I have never seen or tasted these made with anything else, except perhaps lard, which is what they would have used in the early pioneer days.

They would have also enjoyed them spread with butter and drizzled with sticky sweet molasses.  Back home in the Maritimes the molasses jug holds pride of place on the dinner table. 

Every meal, every day, every week of the year.  Its just the way we're made.

Maritime Biscuits

Maritime Biscuits
Yield: 12 Large Biscuits (3-inch)
Author: Marie Rayner
prep time: 15 Mincook time: 20 Mininactive time: 10 Mintotal time: 45 Min
These  lovely light puffs of air are a cross between a dinner roll and a baking powder biscuit! Delicious!


For the yeast sponge:
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) warm water
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 1 TBS regular yeast
For the Biscuits:
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (350g) plain all purpose flour
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 1/2 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (110g) vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk


  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.  Line a couple of baking sheets with baking paper.  Set aside.
  2. Mix the sugar, warm water and yeast together in a cup and leave to dissolve until foamy and double in size.
  3. Warm the buttermilk slightly to lukewarm.
  4. Sift the flour into a bowl along with the soda and baking powder. Stir in the salt and sugar.  Drop in the shortening and cut it in using a pastry blender  until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs, with some larger bits and more smaller bits.
  5. Add the yeast mixture to the warm buttermilk and then add this all at once to the flour mixture. Mix well and turn out onto a generously floured board. Knead lightly for a couple of turns.  Pat out to a round about 1 inch in thickness.
  6. Using a sharp 3 inch cutter, stamp out rounds and place them well spaced apart on the baking sheets.  Re pat and cut the scraps until you have used all the dough,  again placing them well spaced on the baking sheets.
  7. Leave to rise for about 10 minutes.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minute to 20  minutes until golden brown on tops and bottoms and well risen. Lift off  to cool on a wire cooling rack.
  9. Delicious served warm with cold butter and honey or jam.
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Maritime Biscuits

Look at that lovely texture.  A true cross between a biscuit and a bread.  Beautiful.

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  1. The southern US has an "angel biscuit" too. They look more biscuit-like than these, but they also have yeast. I think I tried making them once but I have kind of a heavy hand, and they weren't a success. Yours look delicious!

    1. Yes, I have made Angel Biscuits before! They are also really delicious! I am lucky I have a light hand when it comes to biscuits and muffins. Not so lucky with bread however Marty! ❤️❤️

  2. This looks like a keeper. I love biscuits like this. And the Kennys sound like such wonderful people. He was a real character and she sounds like a great cook!

    1. They were a really sweet couple. Both gone now of course, but I enjoyed knowing them! These biscuits are great! xoxo

  3. My biscuit baking is generally not so good but these turned out wonderful! Thanks for the recipe. Do they freeze well?

    1. Carolyn, I am so very pleased you are happy with these. Yes, they do freeze well. Wrapped properly they will keep for up to three months. xoxo

  4. These look really delicious. The Maritime provinces are New Brunswick , Nova Scotia & PEI . The Atlantic provinces are these 3 plus Newfoundland.

    1. I have never differentiated between the four. Thank you for the information! I hope you will try these and enjoy them! xo

  5. These look scrumptious! I be making some, just the same I hope. Thanks!


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