Bran Biscuit Recipe

This is Mrs. L.S. Williston’s yummy recipe for Bran Biscuits. It was found in an 1877 cookbook under “Food for the Sick.”

Mrs. Williston lived in Jamestown, New York. She recommended buying Davis & Taylor’s wheat bran and even provided their street address in Boston. She served these biscuits for breakfast. If any remained, they were toasted to serve for tea or “split for dinner.”

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Measure 5 cups of flour in a large mixing bowl and scoop a well in the center.

Scald one cup of wheat bran with one cup of boiling water. When the bran cools, spoon it into the well at the center of the flour.

A “half cup of good yeast” was Mrs. Williston’s next ingredient. As I’ve discovered by making other historical recipes, yeast was a little different 150 years ago. I added 1 tablespoon of yeast on top of the wheat bran, but 2 teaspoons would also be fine.

Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add 1 ¾ milk. You may need a little more—just enough to make a soft dough. It will be thicker than batter.

Cover. Place in a warm place and allow it to rise. Mrs. Williston allowed her dough to rise overnight; mine had almost doubled in 1 ½ hours.

Mrs. Williston baked her biscuits in a patty pan or a gem pan—similar to a cupcake/muffin pan. Heat an empty cupcake pan. Then spoon dough into the cupcake holders. (I found it much easier to do this by hand. Tip—rinse your hands in warm water frequently when working with this type of dough.)

Bake at 425 for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Mine baked perfectly at 23 minutes.

I baked a dozen biscuits and put the rest of the dough in a bread pan. The bread dough continued to rise while the biscuits baked.

Bake bread at 425 for about 25 minutes.

The delicious aroma had me eating a biscuit while still pretty warm. Yummy! These were a big hit at my house. I’ll have to make them again.

I’d love to hear if you try this. Enjoy!

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.