Butter Biscuits – 1798


True to their name, these are quite buttery. More what we might think of as modern rolls rather than biscuits, they are simple and wholesome, stopping just shy of fluffy. Because they are so simple, they are a perfect vehicle for your choice of condiments, including jam, clotted cream, or honey on the comb.

Colonial Butter Biscuits Recipe

Quarter Recipe Yield: 10 small biscuits

Sponge: overnight       Prep: 10 minutes       Baking: 25-30 minutes


              Full Batch                   Half Batch                Quarter Batch

  • 1 pint milk                  1 cup milk                  1/2 cup milk
  • 1 pint emptins          1 cup emptins           1/2 cup emptins (or sourdough starter)
  • flour                              flour                             1/2 cup flour
  • 1 lb. butter                 2 sticks butter          1 stick butter
  • another pint milk    1 cup milk                  1/2 cup milk
  • more flour                  flour                             2 cups flour, plus a bit more

Mix the half cup milk with the half cup emptins, along with a 1/2 cup flour to make a sponge. Cover loosely with a dish towel and let sit out overnight. In the morning, your sponge will be larger, bubbly, and, well… spongy. 

Melt 1 stick of butter into another half cup of milk, and let cool until it’s just warm; if too hot, it will kill the yeast in the sponge. Add to the sponge, and gradually mix in 2 cups flour. At this point, you should have a thick batter. Gently knead in additional flour until the whole mixture comes together into one cohesive mass that is soft but not sticky.

Tear off 8 pieces of equal size, and gently form into small rounds. You may either place these directly onto a baking sheet, or into the cups of a muffin pan.

Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes, until the tops are just slightly golden, and the biscuits feel firm to the touch.

They are best served with jam, honey, or clotted cream.


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