; Cwyn's Death By Tea: A Nun's Penitential Biscuit ;

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Nun's Penitential Biscuit

Penitential Biscuits

Penitential Biscuit of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration


1 cup shortening (or 1/2 cup margarine and 1/2 cup butter)

4 Tablespoons sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cups blackstrap molasses

3 cups natural bran

3 cups flour

2 tsp salt

3 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup buttermilk


   1. Cream shortening and sugar.
   2. Add eggs and molasses.
   3. Mix bran, flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together.
   4. Add dry mixture to egg mixture alternately with buttermilk.
   5. Use ice cream scoop to drop biscuits onto a lightly greased cookie      sheet.
   6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Makes 18-24 biscuits depending upon size.

Recipe provided through the kindness of Sr. Marcella Marie Dreikosen, FSPA.

I use crushed bran cereal.

Then cream together the butter and sugar.
I don't own a mixer.
Add the eggs and molasses.

Mix together the dry ingredients. I just add them to the bag I used to crush the cereal, and shake the bag up good before adding it all a bit at a time.
Stir everything up well.
Add the dry ingredients a little at a time along with the buttermilk, stirring everything up well between additions.

Drop rounded scoops of batter onto your greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

Finished biscuit is about the size of a hand.
These salty sweet biscuits were served on meatless Fridays along with salad for the noon meal. Sister Marcella ran the kitchen in those days. She is retired now, and graciously hunted down this old recipe which suggests it is no longer being made. The name Penitential Biscuit is a bit of a misnomer because they are so delicious, and Sister Marcella didn't like anyone calling them Penitential Biscuits.

"It's a bran biscuit," she said, a little offended at the idea that the biscuits might be a penance to eat, or aren't very good.

But in fact they are so wonderfully savory and sweet, we would say "Penitential" as a loving bit of humor, that we are supposed to be doing a penance but the sisters in the kitchen loved us all so much that instead we are eating beautifully. Before today, I have not had these biscuits for 28 years. I put raisins in my recipe, though we never had raisins in these biscuits.

Then I chose a roasted Fujian oolong by white2tea to go with my biscuit, and I suggest a roasted oolong if you plan to drink tea too. 

Choose a roasted oolong or black tea.

Didn't expect the tears at first bite, but clearly my taste buds have found a very old memory.

Requiescat in Pace.


  1. Tastes and aromas (which after all are closely linked) can trigger strong memories and emotions. One of the reasons I like some young puerh teas is that the 'bottom of the cup' aromas remind me of Africa, where I lived in my early twenties and later. It has a scent like that of leaves the people burned as they fell from the trees - Jacaranda trees I think.

  2. Penitential? It sounds like pure sin.
    It's on my Easter menu. Thank you!

  3. I try not to burden my wife with my tea obsession. However, I do share with her your writing on occasion as I did that final line. It nearly brought a tear to my eye as well.

    Blessings to you