What comes to mind when you think of a biscuit? My guess is that it probably depends on where you live! Having grown up in one country and then lived most of my adult life in another, I have found there are several words that are used quite differently in each country. One of these is the humble biscuit!
In North America, this Oat and Apple Biscuit is probably aptly named. I grew up in England where this type of baked product more closely resembles what the English consider a scone. To a Brit, a biscuit is something else entirely. An English biscuit is usually a small baked product that would likely be considered either a cookie or cracker in North America.
The English scone and the North American biscuit
Scones and biscuits are made of up almost the same ingredients including flour, baking powder and/or baking soda, salt, sugar, milk or buttermilk, and a fat. The main difference in ingredients is that scones include an egg.
According to Bon Appetite, biscuits should be light and airy with well-defined flaky layers. Although they should be tender, they need to be sturdy enough to mop up gravy for certain dishes like the popular breakfast of biscuits and gravy.
On the other hand, a scone errs on the side of crumbly and is slightly dryer than a biscuit and is often consumed as part of afternoon tea with clotted cream, butter, or jam!
Scones and biscuits are generally both prepared by a similar method of mixing the dry ingredients, “cutting in” the fat, and then adding liquid until the dough comes together. Once the dough has been kneaded gently, it is rolled out and cut into circles or triangles and baked.
The English biscuit and the cookie
Renshaw speaks of the word biscuit as being derived from the Latin meaning ‘twice baked’ since biscuits were originally cooked in a twofold process: first baked, and then dried out in a slow oven. An English biscuit is usually smaller and much firmer than a cookie and might contain currents, fruit fillings or be topped with icing or chocolate. Biscuits are often associated with dunking in tea.
A cookie is usually softer and moister than a biscuit and often “chunkier”. The more supple texture of cookies lends themselves well to the addition of other ingredients like nuts, chocolate chips, caramel chunks, ginger, raisins and really just about anything that appeals.
Recipe for Oat and Apple Biscuits
I found this recipe for Oat and Apple Biscuits at one of my favourite blogs, Green Kitchen Stories (more information can be found at Resources). The biscuits are vegan and gluten free and uses buckwheat flour which has become one of my go-to flours for gluten free baking.
- 1 3/4 cup (200 g) gluten free oat flour (make your own by grinding rolled oats in a food processor)
- 1 1/4 cup (150 g) buckwheat flour (if not gluten intolerant you can use spelt flour instead)
- 3 tsp arrow root or corn starch
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 6 tbsp (75 g) extra virgin coconut oil, room temperature
- 4 tbsp almond butter
- 1 cup plain soy yogurt (or yogurt of your choice)
- 2 apples, shredded with peels on (around 1 1/2 cups apple shreds)
- Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat it to 450°F (230°C).
- Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Cut the coconut oil into small cubes and add to the flour mixture together with the almond butter. Use your hands to combine until everything has a pebbled texture.
- Add yogurt and apples and stir around with a wooden spoon until you can work the dough by hand. It can be slightly crumbly but should come together as you kneed it. If it feels too dry you can add a dash more yogurt, and if too wet – more flour.
- Gather the dough into a ball that you flatten or roll out on a floured surface. It should be around 1 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter or 3-inch (8 cm) wide glass to cut out as many biscuits as you can. Gather the rest of the dough into a ball again, flatten it out and cut out the rest of the biscuits.
- Cover the hot baking sheet with parchment paper and place the biscuits on it (makes about 8 biscuits). Bake in the oven for 15–16 minutes or until crusty on the outside and slightly moist on the inside.
As these biscuits contain no egg but they seemed to similar to a scone in texture, I wondered if I should call them a “biscone”! However, apparently bisonces are already a dish in their own right as a cross between a light fluffy biscuit and a rich buttery scone. Biscones contain eggs and are made in a similar fashion to biscuits and scones but instead of being rolled and cut, mounds of the dough are scooped up using an ice cream scooper and placed onto a baking sheet.
It seems in the end the label is less important than what it is you are expecting from your baked product! I found these biscuits quite crumbly in texture but could imagine them dipped into gravy just as easily as being served with cream and jam. With my hard-wired English background, I eat mine with coconut cream and chia jam alongside a nice cup of tea!