Friday, September 9, 2011


by Sheila Connolly

Since the weather has turned dank and chill, not to mention soggy, my thoughts turn once again to baking. I know, I know—we'll probably get a blazing Indian summer any time now, but I'll sneak this in while I can.

An inglenook is a nook on either side of a large open fireplace—a cozy place to sit and keep warm. I am not responsible for the odd spelling in this recipe, because it originated at the Ingleneuk Tea House in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, a treasured local establishment that the same family operated for over 80 years. Alas, it is no more: the restaurant, which had grown substantially since its founding, was destroyed by fire in 2000. The structure survived but was returned to its original purpose as a single-family home. I lived two blocks down the street from it, and enjoyed its food more than once, as did generations of Swarthmoreans (including James Michener, when he attended Swarthmore College).

Meals at the Ingleneuk were served family style, and featured hearty comfort foods. Only a few of its recipes have survived, including one for creamed spinach, which for some reason I've never understood my daughter really liked. The other is this biscuit recipe. The dough is definitely biscuit-like, but it's nudged toward sticky-bun status by the rich filling. These are definitely best when served quickly, just out of the oven; diners at the restaurant used to fight for them when the servers brought out a new tray.

Ingleneuk Tea House Butterscotch Biscuits

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2/3 cup whole milk
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 Tblsp salted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

With an electric mixer, beat the 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt and shortening at low speed until combined (about 2 minutes).

Gradually beat in enough milk to form a dough firm enough to roll.

In another bowl, mix brown sugar with melted butter until sugar is uniformly moist but not runny.

On a floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle 8 in. wide and 1/4 in thick (the thinner the dough, the more "spirals" you'll get). Spread the sugar mixture over the dough.

Cut the dough in half lengthwise to form two 4 inch strips. Lightly roll up each half. Cut each roll into 1/2 in slices (you should get 4-5 from each piece) and place the slices in a well-greased 9x9 baking pan. (Note: you'll have to squish the slices in—it will look untidy.)

Bake in a preheated oven until the top is lightly browned, about 20 min.

Remove pan from oven. Let stand for 5 minutes, then turn over onto another greased pan or serving plate (or you can serve them directly from the pan—nobody wants to wait!). Eat while still warm.


  1. What a shame about the fire! It was such a beautiful old building. This recipe sounds wonderful....mmm. Just in time for breakfast!

  2. Sheila, I love your historical accounts! Love the recipe, too. Anything with brown sugar for me. I might try to make this gluten-free and see if it holds up. The rolling into a tube can be tricky with GF flours, but I'll let you know. I need a mid morning snack!


  3. I love the name! Breakfast tomorrow. It's sad about the fire. My favorite pizza place (complete with organ) was destroyed by fire & they did not rebuild. :(

  4. What a lovely description of the Ingleneuk Tea House, and how lucky for you that you lived only a few blocks away. It's very sad that fire destroyed it, even sadder that they did not rebuild. The recipe looks absolutely delicious, Sheila, especially with the coming fall chill. Thank you for sharing it--and the story behind it!

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse

  5. I love the spelling of Ingleneuk. It sounds so exotic. And I never knew the meaning of inglenook. Thanks, that was fascinating.

    The recipe is great too. Love that there are no long rising ties involved. Next up, I hope -- the creamed spinach?

    ~ Krista

  6. The Ingleneuk was a beloved local tradition, in a town with only a few eateries (then and now), although after 80 years it was getting a little bit tired (and the kitchen was probably nowhere near up to code).

    The creamed spinach recipe is floating around somewhere--I'll look for it.

  7. Sheila, my mouth is watering for these biscuits! Definitely a saver-recipe. The Ingleneuk sounds like a perfect setting for a late autumn dinner. Sad to hear it's gone.

  8. Butterscotch is one of my favorite flavors! I am going to make this for a baby shower I'm throwing - yum!

  9. I lived nearby and would frequent the Ingleneuk too! I have many fond memories. I have been looking for this recipe recently and binged and found you. Thank you for posting this. I can't wait to try them. I remember them being so light and delicate and the outside of them coated with the butterscotch....sticky and delicious. How did you get this recipe?

  10. Many fond memories of the Ingleneuk and being lectured for eating too many of these biscuts. The Russian style of serving made one feel very "Up Stairs/Down Stairs" (Or Downton Abby for 2013).

  11. my family loved the Ingleneuk...and my favorite part was these "sticky" buns they served after the salad and before the main course- you had your choice of these and/or corn fritters with syrup.....yummy!

  12. I worked there, serving all those delicious yummy's to 'piggy' :) customers. Forgot about the fab fritters! Am looking for the macaroni & cheese recipe! I'm so glad I forgot about the fritters...
    Such a shame. I hope Bill wasn't around for the fire.