The Seasoned Franciscan - Cooking Joyfully

Bran "Penitential" Biscuits

By Sister Marcella Marie Dreikhosen and Zona Kern on Monday, February 27th 2023

1 C shortening (or 1/2 C margarine and 1/2 C butter)
4 T sugar
2 eggs
3/4 C blackstrap (or regular) molasses
3 C wheat bran (wheat germ or crushed bran flakes cereal)
3 C flour
2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 C buttermilk OR 1 C milk plus 2 tsp lemon juice

Raisins or other dried fruit (optional)


  1. Cream shortening and sugar
  2. Add eggs and molasses
  3. Fold in dried fruit, if using
  4. Use ice cream scoop to drop biscuits onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutesMakes 18-24 biscuits depending upon size
  6. Mix bran, flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together
  7. Add dry mixture to egg mixture alternately with buttermilk

This r
ecipe was provided through the kindness of Sister Marcella Marie Dreikosen and shared by St. Rose Convent nurse Zona Kern. Zona found it posted by Cwyn on a blog called "Death by Tea." Zona writes, “Over the years many sisters have mentioned that "penitential biscuits" were being served to them on occasion. (Apparently it used to be on Good Friday.) This year one of the sisters brought a biscuit to the nurses to try and it was very good. Later I googled "penitential biscuit" and this recipe attributed to Sister Marcella Marie Dreikosen came up!

In "Death by Tea" Cwyn writes: “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.”

Note from Vicki:
Lent invites us to simplify, to abstain from excess, to eat lower on the food chain, less meat and more plant and planet centered. What Lenten recipe do you consider too tasty to be "penitential?" Share it at

As Lent begins, you might enjoy a thoughtful essay by Dr. Christine Valters Paintner entitled "A Different Kind of Fast" written for Abbey of the Arts.

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rlehotjj Says:
10/29/2023 10:57am

rlehotjj Says:
10/29/2023 11:25am
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rlehotjj Says:
10/29/2023 11:25am
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?'' Says:
10/29/2023 11:28am

-1' OR 2+303-303-1=0+0+0+1 -- Says:
10/29/2023 11:44am

-1" OR 3+418-418-1=0+0+0+1 -- Says:
10/29/2023 11:48am

-1" OR 3*2<(0+5+418-418) -- Says:
10/29/2023 11:48am

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