My Take on Grandma’s Biscuits

March 28th, 2020

My Take on Grandma Banks’ Biscuits

Dedicated to my sister in law Sherry, for her birthday.

May Grandma and Aunt Kay rest in peace knowing I think of them every time I make these.

Biscuits were a regular part of life at my grandparent’s farm. Often, especially on a Sunday, many unexpected family visitors would show up, and Grandma always invited them to stay for dinner. An easy way to extend the food available was to make a larger batch of biscuits.

Although Grandma’s biscuits were great, the family guru was Aunt Kay. So I was fortunate to have a private lesson from Aunt Kay on how to make them.

She used shortening, a “piece the size of an egg” said her recipe, and regular milk. My version uses buttermilk and butter, and I love them. Canadian All purpose flour has a high protein content, and makes the biscuits a little chewy, which I like. The other important ingredient is Magic Baking Powder. Every year my mother brought a year’s supply from Canada back to the US just for the biscuits. It does not have the bitter taste that happens when one uses double acting baking powder. Interestingly enough, this recipe has less fat in it than most other biscuit recipes. I have tried many other recipes, and I still like these the best. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I like to think they are just the best.

See the variations at the end for a change of flavour.

Ingredient Instructions
2 cups all purpose flour

4 tsp Magic baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 regular or 350 convection.

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

1/4 cup unsalted butter Use a pastry cutter or 2 knives to cut the butter into pea size pieces into the flour mixture.
1 cup buttermilk Dump in the buttermilk and stir lightly. Let this absorb for a minute, then mix into a soft dough. Handle as little as possible.
Flour the bench, then dump the dough onto it. Press the dough into a rectangle and flatten to about 1/2 inch. Use a sharp biscuit cutter to cut into rounds. Re-roll the remaining dough and cut out the same way. I usually get 12 biscuits from this. Bake on greased baking sheet for about 25 minutes or into slightly browned on the bottom.


Cinnamon Rolls

After dough is rolled out, drip small pieces of butter all over dough. Sprinkle brown sugar, then cinnamon on tol. Roll into a sausage and cut off rolls. Bake as above. An icing can also be added, but they are good just plain.

Ginger Thyme Biscuits

Add 1/4 cup of chopped crystallized ginger, 2 T sugar, and 1 tsp  dried thyme to the dough. Continue same as above. You can also add crystallized sugar on top, but this makes the biscuits soggy if you don’t eat them right away.

It's not humanly possible to eat just one!

Flax Muffins – Revised Half Flax Recipe

November 12th, 2019

My husband really likes my flax muffins, but wanted a little less flax in them.  I also like these little breakfast buns and after tweaking a little from my pure flax version I’ve been eating more of them as well.  They are good split in half and toasted.  They are also gluten and rice free.

Travelling is a real problem for people who need gluten free options, and these little numbers are an easily portable gluten free bread substitute. My husband also reacts to rice, and often rice is the main ingredient in GF breads, etc. so these have been a real mainstay when we travel.

I bake them in a muffin top pan, which are hard to find now but available from mail order places.  They also freeze very well. 

Flax Breakfast Muffins

Recipe developed by Shelley Mierle,

Ingredients Method
Dry Ingredients:

100 g golden flax, ground in blender

60 g chick pea flour

60 g Riverlea “No Rice” gluten free flour mix (see recipe in Gluten Free Tips page)

20g chia seeds

1 T sugar (optional)

1 T baking powder

1/8 t xanthum gum (optional)

1 t psyllium husk powder (optional)

Mix together
Seed Step (optional) Grease muffin top pan, then spread mixed seeds on bottom. Save a few for the top as well. I usually used sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, and poppy seeds. I like the srispy contrast of the seeds to the soft muffin.
Wet ingredients:

3 eggs

1/4 c oil (I use avocado or grape for neutral taste)

1/2 c water

Mix wet ingredients together, then dump into dry and stir until well blended batter forms.

Put batter immediately into muffin top or other cups, then let sit 3 minutes before baking.

Bake at 325 on convection for 20 minutes.

These muffin store well at room temperature for a couple days, but freeze very well for a month or more.

Salted Caramel Blondies, a Gluten Free Delight

November 20th, 2016

These little squares of peanutty goodness disappear fast!

I have a large and ever growing cookbook library, and try not to buy more now unless they are something really different.  But, browsing through Indigo one day I came across the cookbook Sweet well known Los Angeles baker and confectioner Valerie Gordon.  All the recipes looked very interesting, but in particular I was intrigued by the salted caramel blondie recipe. Sooo…, my library expanded again, and I have to confess this is not the first time I have bought a cookbook for just one recipe!

Despite buying this mainly for the one recipe, there are so many others I want to try, this is a delightful cookbook, well written, beautifully photographed, and with interesting technique and ingredient combinations.

I can't wait to try the Apricot Basil Cream Galettes.

The recipe below is a gluten free adaptation, a little less sweet than the original, and without the chocolate chips because I wanted the peanut flavour to shine through without competition.  I warn you, these are delicious, and I now freeze them so we won’t eat the whole pan at once. Unless someone told you they are GF you would not know; they are as delicious as any wheat flour recipe.

Chewy or a little crunchier, just vary the baking time.

Salted Peanut Blondies GF Recipe

The original recipe used the usual cream the butter, add the sugar, then eggs, etc.  But because my mixer resides under the counter and is heavy, instead I used the Cuisinart method and it worked fine.   So pick the method you prefer, this type of batter is pretty forgiving.

Ingredient Method
2 cups Riverlea GF Flour mix.  (see note below)

1 ½ tsp xanthum gum

2 tsp psyllium husk powder

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp kosher salt

Note: My 2 cups of the mix below weighed 240g

Mix all these dry ingredients in the food processor.

1 ½ sticks (6 oz) unsalted butter Add butter and pulse until the butter is in small pieces, but not so much the mix comes together like pie crust.  Dump this mix into a bowl.
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar Add brown sugar and mix all these dry ingredients until uniform.
2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

Add eggs and vanilla, and mix until this becomes a very thick batter.  It will take muscle power!
¾ cup peanuts (not dry roasted)

Salt for sprinkling

Squish batter into greased 9×13 pan.  I used a pyrex so the size was slightly smaller. Spread peanuts evenly over batter and push them into the batter a little.  Lightly sprinkle salt on top.
Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes or longer, but this depends on your oven.  They are done when the edges are starting to brown and a toothpick will test clean.  If you want them really chewy take them out at this stage.  If you want a little firmer wait until the edges are darker brown, but these burn easily so I check the bottom of the glass pan to make sure they are not browning too much on the bottom.

Riverlea “No Rice” Gluten Free Flour Mix

I keep tweaking this mix.  It works well in most recipes where a medium density is the desired result.   I use this blend because my husband can only eat small quantities of rice, the main ingredient in most blends.  This mix is more nutritious than many of the rice based blends.  Lately I have been varying the bean flour part and so far other beans work best if you use two types.  In the mix for these brownies I used ½ garbanzo flour and ½ navy bean flour, but routinely I just use Bob’s Red Mill Garfava flour. I use this for pies, cakes, and cookies, and find that I can substitute it in wheat flour recipes by using the same or slightly more by volume. I do mill most of my own flours, which ensures a fresh taste, but purchasing the less well known flours such as Amaranth at a store that has a good turnover will work fine.

Ingredient By Volume By Weight
Garfava Flour (or other mix using two bean flours) 1 cup 120g
Arrowroot Flour 1 ½ cups 160g
Corn Starch 1 cup 125g
Buckwheat Flour ½ cup 60g
Amaranth Flour ¼ cup 25g  Note: you can mix the proportions of quinoa and amaranth as needed.
Quinoa Flour ¼ cup 25g

I love old plates. This is by Johnson Brothers,

Gluten Free Flax Muffin Tops

October 5th, 2016

Some mornings I get up and my dear hubbie has left me a surprise…an empty cookie tin with crumbs in it from my flax muffin tops.  This is to signal that I should make more of them asap so he does not suffer without them even one day. When I go travelling alone without him (he does not like to make porcelain dolls, speak French, or play recorder…most of which are connected to  my travel quests!)I have to ensure that a supply is on hand in the freezer.

There were a lot of flax recipes on the internet, so I tried a few and tinkered a lot, and I have what I think is a very nutritious, gluten free, tasty breakfast bread that can be toasted, can be a vehicle for jam or peanut butter, or my hubbie’s favourite, liver pate (go figure!). They also freeze very well, and easily keep a month, but I can’t proove this because the empty can usually shows up in a few days here at Riverlea.

Flax Muffin Tops

Dry ingredients:

200 g  (2  cups) ground golden flaxseed, (I grind it in dry container of vitamix)

2 TBL chia seeds

2 TBL hemp hearts

1 TBL baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients

3 eggs

3 TBL olive oil

1/2 cup water

Mix this all up in a bowl. Spoon batter into medium muffin greased muffin top pan. If you really want to get fancy put sesame or poppy seeds in the bottom of the wells first.   Let sit at least 3 minutes for the flaxseed to soak up the liquids before baking.  Bake 20 minutes at 350.

Remove from muffin top pan or at least push them up so they dont get sweaty.

Cool and eat or freeze.  If you dont have a muffin top pan this also works equally well as a flat bread, just spread out on a cookie sheet so the batter is about scant 1/2 inch think.

I’m posting this for a friend, pictures to come later.

Orange Thyme Icebox Butter Cookies

December 21st, 2015

Orange Thyme Icebox Cookies

One of my favourite sweet cookbooks is the Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.  This book has a wide range of recipes including cookies, quickbreads, cakes, and pastries, lots to satisfy most home bakers.  The instructions are clear, and every recipe I have made from it has been scrumptious.  As well as many common favourites, there are also a few gems that are not in other books of this type such as sfogliatelle, Spanish olive oil wafers, and Breton biscuits to name a few.  This is my favourite cookbook to give to new enthusiastic bakers.

The recipe for icebox cookies is one I return to again and again.  The cookies are a combination of crisp and buttery.  Many different flavourings work, as well as the addition of nuts and spices.  My most recent take on these cookies was to add thyme and orange rind for the spicings.  The resulting cookies are semi sweet and go well with afternoon tea or also with cheese for an appertif.

One of my favourite recipes in the book

After shaping the dough into logs, refrigerate and slice, easy peasy!

Use a really sharp knife.  I used a ceramic knife and it worked perfectly.

The texture is the best, like shortbread but with a crunch.

The recipe?  In the book.  The flavouring is 1 1/2 tsp of thyme,  grated orange rind from one orange, and about a 1/2 cup chopped pecans.

Raspberry Sour Cream Pie

August 4th, 2013

Raspberry Pie.....mmmmmm

In April while at my parents house on PEI we had a delicious meal at the Sidewalk Cafe on Main Street in Alberton.  The whole meal was delicious PEI style fare, scallops, mashed potatoes, and canned peas, a PEI holdover from before freezers.  The hostess, who said she was from Ontario, said they learned quickly that the canned peas were a local favourite.  Anyway, my mother told me the raspberry pie was wonderful, so we started sharing a piece.  It was so good I ordered a piece of my own right away.   It was just heavenly, creamy, and just a little sweetness so that the flavour of the raspberries reigned supreme.

I liked the pie so much that I ended up back there two more times in just the week I was there, wanting to savour the raspberry pie while it was available.  I tried a few recipes after returning home to Ontario, but none seemed quite right.

Well this week my patch of raspberries was the best ever, so I looked again and found the perfect recipe, in fact I think it is the recipe of the restaurant.  It is on the Canadian Living website, and is called “Crosswinds Raspberry Pie”.

Although I loved the pie, I don’t really like regular pie crust that much, so I adapted the recipe for a shortbread type crust.  I also didnt have breadcrumbs, so I made an almond topping that turned out to be a great compliment.  Here is my recipe.  It is divine.  The only tricky part is to get the crust cooked, so pay attention when it is in the oven.

Raspberry Sour Cream Cake

By Shelley at

This recipe is adapted from “Crosswinds Raspberry Pie” at Canadian




1 ½ cups flour

¼ cup sugar

½ cup unsalted butter

½ tsp salt

  • Mix dry ingredients.  Add butter and whirl in food processor until small crumbs evolve.  If no processor, then mix as for shortbread with a pastry cutter until small grains occur.
  • Pat into 9” spring form pan.  You can try to bring it up the edges a little, or just make it the bottom, depending on the size of your pan.
  • Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, but stop baking as soon as it browns very slightly

3 cups raspberries

¾ cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

2 cups sour cream

½ tsp vanilla

½ tsp almond flavouring

  • Spread raspberries over the partially baked crust
  • Mix remaining ingredients and pour / spread over berries

½ cup almonds

2 or 3 TBL brown sugar

1 TBL melted butter

Pinch of salt

  • Combine and spread over the sour cream mixture
  • Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until cooked.
  • (The original recipe bakes the pie at 400, but this just results in burning for me)
Cool pie and then refrigerate as soon as possible.  The pie is best after the filling has cooled and set firmly.  If you leave it out too long after baking the bottom can get soggy, so try to time this well.

Pumpkin Brownies

May 3rd, 2013

These brownies evolved because I’ve been trying recipes with hemp hearts.  I found a starting recipe on the site Mum’s Best.  Ive tweaked their recipe to use pumpkin instead of applesauce and changes some of the flours.  These are delicious. They are a more cakelike brownie rather than chewy. Make sure you use pure canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling.

Pumpkin Brownies

Gluten Free and Vegan

Can brownies really be nutritious?  You bet. These have a cakelike texture.  They keep and freeze well.

Makes an 8×8 square pan of brownies.

Ingredients Directions
Dry Ingredients:

½ cup (65g) No Rice Gluten Free  Flour Mix*

¼ cup (25g) finely ground sunflower seeds

¼ cup (35g) hemp hearts

1/3 cup (26g) raw cacao powder

3/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar

2 tsp psyllium husks

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

Heat oven to 350 and grease an 8×8 pan.

Combine all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly

Wet ingredients:

1 cup(200 g) canned pure pumpkin (this is ½ of 398ml can)( NOT pumpkin pie filling)

2 TBL coconut oil melted until liquid (or use butter)

2 TBL water

Add wet ingredients to dry and quickly mix together.  The batter will be dense, and you have to work fast because the soda activates right away.

Pour / scoop into prepared pan and level the batter mixture with a spoon or offset spatula.

Bake about 20 minutes until just done.  Like regular brownies they are best not overbaked.

*No Rice Gluten Free Flour Mix

This makes about 4 ½ cups,  more than needed for the recipe. I have found this to be a good general GF flour mix.  It works very well in pastry recipes.

1 cup garfava flour

½ cup amaranth flour

1 cup cornstarch

½ cup buckwheat flour

1 ½ cup arrowroot flour

Carrot Cake, Not too sweet and also gluten free!

December 22nd, 2012

Carrot cakes are ubiquitous, and I find many of them to be cloyingly sweet and too full of stuff like raisins and pineapple.  I especially hate it with cocoanut for some reason.  This carrot cake was supposed to keep the overall feel and spicing, but to be pure carrot cake and only a little sweet.

Picture to come after I bake this again and before it gets eaten!

I have been experimenting with adding nut and seed mixtures to baked goods after reading Peter Reinhart’s latest gluten free cookbook.  He uses all artificial sweeteners, which I generally avoid, so I am sticking with mostly sugar on the premise that you shouldn’t eat too much cake anyway.  I have found his cakes a little too fragile, so I have used his approach of the nut / seed mixtures and modified my flour to incorporate more nuts and seeds.  Because nuts and seed are higher in fats than other flour ingredients, I have found that reducing fat makes a better outcome.  I have made this cake several times now to rave reviews and requests for the recipe, so here it is.  I am also trying a few more modifications so I may update this later.  Also, don’t be alarmed that after a few hours the carrots oxidize and they look like little green specks.  I have usually added buttercream icing on just the top, but the cake is delicious without this as a less sweet nibble with coffee or tea.

Carrot Cake – Gluten Free

Developed by Shelley at

Ingredients Method
1 ¼ cup Family Mix gluten Free Flour

¼ cup sunflower meal

2 Tbl ground flax seeds

6 TBL sesame meal

¼ cup ground almonds

1 ½  tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 ½ tsp soda

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp guar gum

Note:  all the meal ingredients were ground in my little spice blender.

Mix all dry ingredients and set aside.

1/3 cup butter

½  cup brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup buttermilk

2 cups grated carrots

Cream eggs and sugar  until fluffy as you would for any cake.  Add eggs and blend until incorporated.  Add buttermilk and flour mixture in stages.

Add carrots to batter.  The batter will be firm and sticky.

Place in cake pan, 9” springform or medium rectangular (one size smaller than 9 x 13).  If needed wet fingers and press the batter down in the pan.

Bake at 350 until it looks well done.  The nut mixtures tend to need a little more baking time or they can end up undercooked and soggy.

Ice with any buttercream frosting just on the top.  I used 1 cup icing sugar to ½ cup butter. The overall effect of this cake should be just slightly sweet.

Family Mix Flour

1cup garfava flour (i use Bob’s Red Mill)

1 1/2 cup arrowroot flour

1 1/2 cup cornstarch (or sometimes I use  1 cup cornstarch and 1/2 cup buckwheat)

1/4 cup amaranth flour

1/4 cup quinoa flour

(you can use just quinoa or just amaranth and then use a 1/2 cup)

Chewy Ginger Cookies – Gluten Free

December 22nd, 2012

These cookies are adapted from a recipe in the  LCBO Food and Drink magazine. As usual in
gluten free baking, I found that reducing the fat content was important. I also reduced
the sugar slightly, and they are still very sweet.  These are chewy if baked until just slightly turning brown, and crispier
if cooked a little longer. They freeze very well.

A note on ingredients, I have been experimenting with using psyllium husk as a binder.  What I have found so far is that it really does seem to help with liquid absorbtion and texture.  I have been using small quantities so far.  I did try a bread recipe with more, and it turned out well.

Chewy Ginger Cookies Recipe

Developed by Shelley at

Ingredients Method
2 cups family mix flour

1 Tbl psyllium husk

1 tsp guar gum

1/2 tsp xanthum gum

1 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbl dried ginger powder

1/2 tsp grounf cardamom

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 or slightly less chopped crystallized ginger

Mix dry indredients.
3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup oil

1/4 cup molasses fancy type like Grandma’s

1 egg

Mix wet ingredients, then add to dry.

The dough should

be soft but hold it’s shape. Make small balls a little larger than walnuts. The larger

cookies will be chewier.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes depending on your oven.

The cookies will puff up very high at the beginning, then collapse into a crackled

looking flat cookie just before they are done. Let sit a few minutes before removing

from pan, they are very delicate when hot but firm up when cooled.

Family Mix Flour

1cup garfava flour (i use Bob’s Red Mill)

1 1/2 cup arrowroot flour

1 1/2 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup amaranth flour

1/4 cup quinoa flour

(you can use just quinoa or just amaranth and then use a 1/2 cup)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Tower – Gluten Free Version

September 5th, 2011

I have had a recipe for chocolate towers marked for a long time in Emily Luchetti’s cookbook, and finally decided I would make it.  After looking over the components, it looked like a recipe that could easily be made gluten free.  I also thought the coffee flavouring sounded ok, but since I didn’t have any instant coffee I looked in the cupboard for inspiration and found some peanut butter.  Alas the inspiration of a chef sometimes comes from sheer practicality.

I made the cake in a rectangular pan and cut out the chocolate rounds. To make the mousse the right size I looked through my dishes and found some souffle dishes that were about the same size.

The chocolate topping is sort of like a really thick sauce, so it slithers over the edge just enough before the frigid mouse stops it in its tracks.  The chocolate recipe ended up making enough for another batch, so I made this dessert twice in one week.  Greg is tired of it now, but it was a big hit until we ate too much of it.  This is a really good company dessert because it can all be made even a day before you need it, and even freezes well.

Emily Luchetti has written several cookbooks, and I have found them all great.  A Passion for Desserts is an excellent cookbook, and has the original  Chocolate Tower recipe (non gluten-free).

So, with thanks to Emily Luchetti for the inspiration, but the final recipe has been tweaked a fair bit and I am naming it Choco-peanut  Tower.

Read on for the recipe… Read the rest of this entry »

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