Week 2 - Knott Biscuits

If Loblolly is the love child of risotto and rice pudding, then knott biscuits are a cross between a spice cookie and a hot cross bun - chewy, slightly crunchy and mildly sweet. 

And speaking of sweet.... Visitors’ response to Lori and Madeline’s first few attempts at these biscuits wasn’t exactly enthusiastic. No one spat them out, but we weren’t handing out too many seconds. The problem? Apparently, the biscuits weren’t sweet enough. L & M responded by gradually increasing the amount of sugar in the recipe. By day 4, they’d nearly doubled the sugar PLUS they gave each piece of dough a final roll in coarse sugar before tying it in a knot. Suddenly, the knott biscuits were a hit! Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. According to a Statistics Canada report, one in every five calories consumed by Canadians comes from sugar. That’s roughly 26 teaspoons a day! 


The consumption of sugar in European populations first began to rise in the 17th century, when the use of slave labour in places like Jamaica, Cuba and Brazil transformed it from a luxury "spice" afforded only by the few, to a staple consumed by everyone, including Ferryland’s colonists. A list of goods shipped aboard the David of Ferryland includes “6 hogsheads of sugar weighed net 2743 lbs valued at 12d per lb”.

Cooks' Notes. L & M added additional flour to firm up the dough, which altered the final texture of the biscuits. Modern cooks can pop the dough in the fridge for an hour instead. 

The Solution

Here’s our solution to the Knott Biscuit challenge. The sugar listed in the recipe will produce a mildly sweet biscuit. A final roll of the dough in coarse sugar before forming into a knot will make the final result more appealing to those with a sweet tooth. 


40 grams butter
1 tablespoon rosewater
100 grams sugar
2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon aniseed
1 tsp caraway seed
225 grams flour


  • In a large bowl, beat the butter with the rose water
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs.
  • Combine the flour and spices. Stir into the butter mixture to make a stiff dough
  • Wrap the dough in wax paper and refrigerate for an hour
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  • Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Break off a lime-sized pieces of dough. Roll each piece into a rope about 3/4" in diameter. Tie in a pretzel-like knot. 
  • Bake on lightly greased baking sheets for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Jane SeversComment