Singed Hinnies (BBB July 2018)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for Singing Hinnies; shaping fun; straying from “tried and true”; following instructions; information about Bread Baking Babes;

Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Singing Hinnies

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks…

It has been poisonously hot this month. The horrible heat broke last week. But it has geared up again – just in time for the annual Indy race that took place this weekend about 2 km south of us. It was loud here. I can’t imagine what it must have been like in the grand stands….

Because July is a traditionally hot month, this month’s recipe does not require an oven or yeast. The leavener is baking powder. This month the BBBabes are making “Singing Hinnies”.

What a delightful name this little griddle cake has. The origins of the traditional scone-like griddle cake called a Singin’ Hinny is easily identified. Hinney is the pronunciation of ” honey ” in the north east of England around Sunderland, Newcastle and through to Northumberland. It is a term of endearment used usually to and about women and children. With the singing part of the name from when the cakes are cooked in a hot flat griddle pan, as they hit the pan, the butter and lard starts to sizzle and ‘sing’. Delightful all round.
– Elaine Limm, The Spruce Eats | Traditional Singing Hinny Recipe
The use of the griddle goes back through the ages, when ovens were not part of many coal-fired ranges. […] SINGING HINNIES […] have been a favourite teacake in Northumberland for decades. The rather strange name is because the teacakes give a singing sound as they cool and the word ‘hinnie’ is a term of endearment in the north of England […] [T]he oven is not used. The griddle must be preheated well
– Marguerite Patten OBE, The Basic Basics Baking Handbook, p169

Singed Hinnies

According to Wikipedia, other names for these griddle cakes are “Fat Rascal”, “Bannock”, “Griddle Cake”, “Scone”, and “Fattie Cutties”. And, of course, “Baking Powder Biscuits”.

I feel like I have been making biscuits and scones all my life. Of course that’s not true. I simply watched Mum making them until I was around 10 years old. But it was around that time that she walked me through making biscuits and pastry myself. And they were always baked in the oven. Always. Here’s how things went with this month:

BBB Singing Hinnies diary:

14 June 2018, 13:05 Cool!! Singing Hinnies sound just like bannock. Modern bannock, heavy and dense when baked — or light, fluffy and golden brown when fried — is usually made from wheat flour, which was introduced by Europeans, particularly Scots, who had their own flat cakes of unleavened barley or oatmeal dough called bannock.
– CBC radio: Bannock: A brief history
PC: Last year you attempted and failed at making bannock? This year have you made it already?
TW: Yes I did. And it turned out fine! It was about the sixth batch that I made this year to try and get it right. I think the ravens ate most of it, because one of the things I was doing was over-kneading it. Instead of just mixing it and knead[ing] it down with the palm of your hand, I was making it like bread. Squeezing it and … You don’t do that with bannock, you just put your flour and your sugar and your oil and your baking powder together and water and mix it good. Dry first, and then the water comes after. Then pat it down and make a round circle of it and cut it out with a cup or a glass and then you put them in the oven at 400 and its done!
– Tony Whitford from Yellowknife, N.W.T., Cross Country Checkup, CBC: What’s the secret to making bannock?
Take a small portion of the dough and stretch it. Fold the dough onto a stick and roast over a fire. […] It’s a must-have with any caribou or reindeer stew and goes well with some jam.
– David Thurton, CBC News: Bannock recipe: How to make a northern staple
You don’t need a big fire to cook bannock. You just need one with hot coals. […] Since, you’re going to cook the bannock on a stick, you need to gather the perfect stick. Preferably, pick a stick that’s freshly cut, green and taste good, like aspen. […] [T]emper it by holding it over your fire until it becomes hot to touch. Don’t burn the stick or your bread will take on that taste. By tempering the stick, the bread will cook from the inside as well as from the outside. […] [Y]ou need to find a distance above the fire where the temperature is just right–if you hold it too close the outside will brown too quickly leaving a wet, doughy interior. Find the right distance by holding your hand over the fire. When you find a place you can hold your hand for around 10 to 15 seconds, you’ve found the right height. […]
It takes around 10 minutes to cook the bannock. […] When the bannock is finished, it should easily come off the stick. If it’s not done, the bread dough will stick making it hard to slide. You want bread that’s dry and fluffy.
– Bryan Hansel, Paddling Light: How to Cook Bannock on a Stick – Campfire Bread (recipe and video)

13 July 2018, 10:02 Well. I THOUGHT I was going to stray from the BBB instructions to bake our Singing Hinnies on a stick. But then, I decided that it would not be a good idea to build a fire in the back yard. Especially in this heat. Especially on Friday the 13th….

This morning, I happily mixed the dough. I was positive that I would have zero difficulties making these biscuits. After all, biscuit making is child’s play! {cough} And I wasn’t going to try something new (for me), like trying to bake them on sticks….

225grams (8ozs) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
Sift the flour and baking powder
– BBB Singing Hinnies recipe

Sift?! I whisked the dry ingredients with a fork. Because that’s what Mum told me to do.

Half a teaspoon of salt for all that flour? I don’t think so! I doubled the amount. Particularly as I was using unsalted butter. And because the butter was hard (heee heeeee, I cannot say that without immediately recalling the several times – every time, in fact – that Grandpa declared, “it’s harder where there’s none”), I cut the butter into smaller pieces with a knife and then finished by using my fingertips to mix it into the flour mixture. Because that’s how Mum taught me to do it.

I also added “some” nutmeg, because Mum always added nutmeg whenever currants were added to the dough.

Milk to mix to a dough (about 2 tablespoons)
Add enough milk to make a dough.
– BBB Singing Hinnies recipe

About 2 tablespoons, eh? Not in OUR kitchen. I added 2 tablespoons (I continued straying by using buttermilk instead of milk) and it was clearly not enough. I added 2 more tablespoons. Nope. Not enough. I added 2 more tablespoons. Aha! Finally, it was right.

Roll out onto a floured tray or board and cut with scone or biscuit cutter into rounds of chosen size, usually about 3 inches wide.
– BB Singing Hinnies recipe

Once again, I strayed. We have been so thrilled with Zachary Golper’s method of making scones, outlined in his book “Bien Cuit”, that I had to use it. It’s NOT what Mum taught us at all….

Shaping Scones
This is a slight variation of Zachary Golper’s method :
1. After mixing just enough to wet the dry ingredients, turn the dough onto a lightly floured board. Gently flatten it into a rectangle about 1.5 cm (roughly half an inch) deep.
2. Cut the dough in half and stack the halves together. Cut this stack in thirds and stack the pieces on top of each other. Gently flatten the stack into a rectangle about 1.5 cm deep.
3. Repeat the second step two more times.
4. Using a dough scraper, cut the final rectangle into even pieces (squares or triangles).
5. Put the pieces onto an ungreased baking sheet.
– me, blog from OUR kitchen | More scones please

The only change I made to the above was to use the dough scraper to cut the edges and put those pieces underneath so that all of the biscuits/scones would have straight sides. They rise better that way.

Everything had gone swimmingly up to this point. The dough was so beautiful that I considered turning on the toaster oven to bake them the usual way.

But no. I had to be a vaguely obedient BBBabe, didn’t I? I got the cast iron frying pan out.

:stomp: That’s when things started to go awry. :stomp:

Place scones onto griddle on a very low heat so that the scones can cook very slowly. Turn once and cook on other side. To check that they are cooked remove one of the scones and tap it gently – it should sound hollow.
– BBB Singing Hinnies recipe

I did read “very low heat”. Really I did. But I didn’t believe it. Because I’m an expert…. And I was also aware that it was time for breakfast. Indeed, it was past time for breakfast.

So, because I’m an expert, I decided to put the pan on medium low heat and once the tiny amount of butter was melted and the dough squares in the pan, I put a lid on top. To encourage the area to steam.

I was planning to make naan later today, so I thought I’d use the time to feed our Jane Mason starter and get a levain going. Naturally, because of trying to multitask, the things in the pan got away from me. Of course they did. :lalala:

Yup. They were puffing beautifully; I turned them over and saw that they were beginning to burn on the bottom. No wait… let’s call a spade a spade: they were close to being black as the ace of spades on the bottom. Not burned black black black, but burned nonetheless.

Throwing caution to the wind, I turned the heat way down to the lowest it will go and put the lid back on. And burned the other sides as well. Not burned black black black, but definitely singed.

But. They were singing! The sound was quite high pitched and almost inaudible. We decided they might not taste too bad after all and began to make coffee.

We sat out on the front porch and pretended that we had baked the biscuits over an open fire. Suddenly the black tops and bottoms tasted of the great outdoors.

I’m not sure I’d choose to make biscuits this way again – unless we are camping. But it’s nice to know that we can!

Many thanks for choosing Singing Hinnies, Elle!

Here is the BBB recipe for Singing Hinnies that we were given. And here is what I did to it:

Singing Hinnies
based on a Laura Fitzpatrick’s (Hello Eco Living) for Singing Hinnies

  • flour (the BBB recipe calls for “225grams (8ozs) plain flour”)
       » 175g unbleached all-purpose flour
       » 50g 100% whole wheat flour
  • 6g Kosher salt (the BBB recipe calls for “1/2 teaspoon salt”)
  • 5g (1 tsp) baking powder
  • 100g butter
  • 44g currants (the BBB recipe calls for “50 grams (2ozs)” but we only had 44 grams in the house)
  • small amount ground nutmeg (BBB recipe calls for zero amount of nutmeg)
  • 6 Tbsp buttermilk (BBB recipe calls for “Milk to mix to a dough (about 2 tablespoons)”)
  1. mixing: Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl (I usually measure the baking powder into a very fine sieve to catch and break up any lumps). Cut in the butter until it is pea sized. (I use a knife first and then finish with the tips of my fingers.) Add currants and buttermilk. Stir just until it all holds together. Don’t worry if there are still a few crumbs at the bottom of the bowl.
  2. shaping: This is a slight variation of Zachary Golper’s method outlined in his book “Bien Cuit”:
    1. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board. Gently flatten it into a rectangle about 1.5 cm (roughly half an inch) deep.
    2. Cut the dough in three and stack the pieces on top of each other. Gently flatten the stack into a rectangle about 1.5 cm deep.
    3. Repeat the second step two more times.
    4. Using a dough scraper, trim the edges of the final rectangle and put the pieces underneath. Press gently to make sure they join with the rest of the dough. Cut the rectangle into even pieces (squares or triangles).
  3. Baking: Under normal circumstances, we would place the cut biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and bake them in a preheated 350F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are light golden brown on top. But making singing hinnies is not a normal circumstance…. Heat a cast iron frying pan over low heat (not medium, not high: but LOW heat) and cover the surface with a tiny amount of butter. When the butter foams, put scones into the pan, keeping them separate. You want the heat low so that the scones cook slowly without burning on the bottom. Put a lid on top to hold in the heat. Turn the biscuits when the bottoms start to be golden (ie: don’t wait until they are black :lalala: ) Continue cooking on other side until they’re done. The BBB recipe says: To check that they are cooked remove one of the scones and tap it gently – it should sound hollow. The top and bottom should be browned but not burnt. We just looked at them in despair and guessed that if they were so dark on both sides, they must be done. Because both of us are experts. :lalala:

Serve warm with butter. And jam or honey, if you remember. And good strong coffee. Or tea – in proper china cups….


:: Baking: Next time, as much as I love music, I will go back to using the toaster oven. The biscuits may not sing but they are much less likely to burn on the bottoms (and tops)

:: Amount of milk and salt: I more than doubled the milk to use 6 Tbsp buttermilk. I also doubled the amount of salt because I used sweet butter. I’m guessing that the butter used traditionally would be salted. We thought there was exactly the right amount of salt in the biscuits I made. (Maybe because it’s poisonously hot and we need more salt right now.)

:: milk vs buttermilk: Because we had buttermilk in the fridge, I used that instead of milk. I often use yoghurt too. But if neither buttermilk or yoghurt are available, milk works just as well.

Baker’s Wisdom: Buttermilk Buttermilk is a creamy, tangy, cultured milk product, no longer the byproduct of butter making. […] It acts as a tenderizer in quick breads and is an excellent ingredient in biscuits and pancakes due to its addition of a delicate sharp flavor. – Beth Hensperger, “Back to Basics: White Breads”, The Bread Bible


In spite of the scorched bottoms and tops, these scones were awfully good. And good the next day too. But they could have been so much better! If only I’d paid attention to “very low heat so that the scones can cook very slowly”…. Surprisingly, the black parts didn’t taste burned! We just pretended we were camping. :-)

Singed Hinnies

For lunch that day, we had some chicken salad (grapes and almonds) left over from the night before and served the rest of the biscuits cold with the salad. Delicious!!

Bread Baking Babes BBB: Let's Get Baking

Singing Hinnies

Pat (aka Elle) is the host of July 2018’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:

July isn’t usually a month when we have lots of baking going on because it gets hot. I decided that it might be nice to have a bread that didn’t require an oven. I’ve also always been amused by the name of this bread […] So for July we will be making Singing Hinnies. What on earth are those you might wonder. Well, they are a scone-like griddled bread from Northumberland in Northern England.
– Pat, in message to BBBabes

We know you’ll want to make Singing Hinnies too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the bread in the next couple of weeks and post about it (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 July 2018. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.


For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ July 2018 Singing Hinnies.


I love the internet!! I was searching for information about Singing Hinnies and came across the following.

‘Singing hinnies,’ he told her. ‘And I want to make them.’
‘You’re serious?’
‘Do you know how to make them?’ he asked.
‘You’re asking me, an islander born and bred, if I know how to make singing hinnies?’
‘I’m sorry. Of course you do.’
‘My granny’s singing hinnies were famous.’
‘Is the recipe a family secret?’
‘Possibly.’She eyed him thoughtfully. ‘Though some might say you’re family now.’
He made singing hinnies and ‘awesome’ was too small a word for it. […] [H]e rubbed the butter into the flour, as he made the perfect batter, as he heated the griddle on the stove, greased it with lard and finally popped his hinnie on to cook. It hissed and spluttered and rose. He flipped it over and it was done. Perfection!
– Marion Lennox, The Earl’s Convenient Wife, p186,187

Who says that Harlequin Romances are useless? :whee:

Singed Hinnies

Where hev ye been aal the day,
Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Where hev ye been aal the day, me Billy Boy?
I’ve been walkin’ aal the day
With me charmin’ Nancy Grey
And me Nancy kittl’d me fancy
Oh me charmin’ Billy Boy.
Can she myek an Irish Stew
Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Can she myek an Irish Stew, me Billy Boy?
She can myek an Irish Stew
Aye, and “Singin’ Hinnies” too.
And me Nancy kittl’d me fancy
Oh me charmin’ Billy Boy.
Billy Boy, Northumbrian capstan shanty, The Singing Tradition of Child’s Popular Ballads, ed. Bertrand Harris Bronson


13 responses to “Singed Hinnies (BBB July 2018)

    1. ejm Post author

      The singing was almost the best part! It came as such a surprise – I was certain that people were just saying that they sang….

  1. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    I love the shaping folding! I have to try that. We really loved these, so moist … and short with all that fat ;-) I used almost 1/2 cup buttermilk but I also used all whole grain flour so it would have soaked up more than plain. Even so dark, I glad they were good.

    1. ejm Post author

      You really must try Golper’s shaping method, Tanna. It makes such a difference to the loft.

      I was surprised that the darkness didn’t translate into an acrid carbon taste. Instead, where they were black, they had a slight nuttiness. Next time I’ll add more whole grain to see what happens. But will I do them on the griddle? I’m not so sure. Maybe I’ll try the stick over hot coals method….

      1. mykitcheninhalfcups

        I am going to try the shaping method! I know you’ve talked about it but this time I will see it through.
        I can’t imagine that on a stick trick but heck stranger things have worked I know.

        1. ejm Post author

          After watching this YouTube video, I’m starting to wonder if the stick method is possibly not so desirable….

          YouTube: Campfire Bannock 3 Different Ways (
          3:21 on a stick
          5:21 on the coals
          8:43 in a frying pan over the fire

  2. Barbara

    They sound very similar to Welsh Cakes which Mats told me about and which I have made a few times. I just cooked the Welsh cakes at about the same temperature as pancakes, and they always came out great. But I only made them about 1/2 inch thick, which would make a big difference compared to your lovely thick biscuits. Next time I make Welsh cakes, I’m going to add nutmeg! Mmm, nutmeg and raisins. If I can find my Welsh cake recipe. (But if I recall correctly, it was very similar if not identical to Mum’s baking powder biscuit recipe plus raisins and a bit of sugar, maybe a tablespoon?)

    1. ejm Post author

      I thought pancake temperature would be right too, but it was definitely too high – maybe because the biscuits were so thick.

      I bet the Welsh cake recipe is virtually the same as Mum’s baking powder biscuit recipe. This Singing Hinnie one is…. I bet that the only real regional difference is the name of the biscuit. (Ha. I might be wrong. I just googled and see that the “Great British Chefs” Welsh Cake recipe calls for eggs!)

        1. ejm Post author

          Exactly like pancakes. What’s the point? (Unless you want pancakes.)

          I bet you anything that the recipe you used was pretty much the same as the one for Singing Hinnies that Elle gave us – it calls for milk rather than buttermilk.

  3. Cathy (breadexperience)

    What a great idea to use a dough scraper to cut them. I love the squares! I definitely need to try that sometime. They don’t look singed, they look ben cuit!

  4. Katie Zeller

    Since I much prefer pretend camping to real camping these would be perfect for me…. Now I’m reminded that it’s been ages since I’ve made baking powder biscuits (with yogurt)

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