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They are all over Canada too. By Peek Frean which, it seems, has been bought by Kraft Foods. Strangely enough, I can only find a listing online for chocolate digestive biscuits, but the regular ones are most popular here. It is sort of the cookie equivalent of multi-grain bread, with little chunkettes of cookie material, fairly sweet, and softens when dipped in tea most nicely. I think it is very low fat, but am not sure. It is often one of the few cookies the doctor will allow if you are on a low cholesterol diet. http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/calories/...mi-sweet-406565 http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3097/259317...62ee87d.jpg?v=0 http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3263/259236...7337816.jpg?v=0

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A 'Brit chap' replies:

The Wikipedia article to which Fritz provided a link seems to be accurate and informative, so I'll just add my personal take on it. Digestive Biscuits are the ones you buy in the expectation that they'll last a while. People don't keep going to the cupboard for more because they're plain and uninteresting. They taste of coarse plain flour mixed with water, quite a bit of salt and sugar and baked. Which is not surprising since that's roughly what they are. Coating them with chocolate transforms them, especially if you like plain chocolate and choose the plain chocolate coated version. But given a packet of uncoated digestive biscuits, I would prefer to smash them to smithereens and make a cheesecake base out of them. They're wonderful for that.

I'm aware that even the word biscuit means something different stateside than it does over here (and I'm unsure exactly what it does mean - perhaps someone would enlighten me?) so I continue to be delighted with the variations withing the English language.

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Thanks, everyone. I don't think there is an American equivalent for those things. I'm not sure an American would buy one. They sound pretty gross.

I think biscuits, in England, is the word used for what we call cookies. I know British biscuits have enough sugar in them to make them a sweet, and American biscuits are basically flour, fat, baking powder and milk with no or only a pinch of sugar.

And you say crisps for potato chips, and chips for French fries. I think scones are the same in both places, although Brits seem to make a common diet of the things and they're more of an oddity here, even though we do have them.

Digestive biscuits don't sound like something I should travel to England to partake of. Or even Canada.

C

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Australian biscuits are the same as American cookies. We have scones available everywhere. I think we had digestive biscuits when I was cute young thing, but I didn't like them.

We also have crumpets, pancakes, flapjacks, cup cakes, and hot-cross buns for Easter. These are fruit buns with a pastry cross baked onto them, although I haven't had my buns crossed recently. :whistle:

sorry Cole, I couldn't resist.

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Your fruity buns sound pretty good to me, but why reserve them for Easter?

Biscuits here in the American Southland are a serious business, and a homemaker's reputation can be won or lost over their proper preparation. We have two commercial chains which pride themselves on their biscuits as their primary draw: BoJangle's and Hardee's. This region alone is responsible for supporting the incomes of most of the cardiac surgeons in the United States.

James

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I'm intrigued by these American biscuits (and Des' buns, of course!). I've read stories where someone cooks biscuits for breakfast. What would you eat them with? butter and jam? What do they look/taste like? What's the texture? Hard and crisp or soft and spongy? I have to say that like cornmeal grits, they don't sound palatable.

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Biscuits aren't that difficult to make. The easiest way is to use a prepared buscuit mix, like Biskwick. Of course the resulting product isn't that good.

Here's the recipe I use that makes really good biscuits. It uses more ingredients than some recipes, but it's difficult to argue with the resuts:

Biscuits

(From Better Homes and Garden cookbook)

Makes about a dozen, depending on the diameter and thickness you use

Heat oven to 450 ?F

2 C flour

4 tsp baking powder (not baking soda)

2 tsp sugar

? tsp salt

? tsp cream of tartar

? C shortening

1/3 C milk

Mix dry ingredients thoroughly. Cut in shortening thoroughly.

Add milk all at once and stir to form a moist dough.

On a floured board and with floured hands, kneed the dough five or six times.

Press down till the dough is a uniform thickness, about 1/2" thick,

or thicker if you want thicker biscuits.

Cut biscuits with a drinking class and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake about 12-13 minutes. Done when tops are golden brown and before the bottoms blacken. I recommend a cookie sheet with an air space between top and bottom. That works very well.

As for biscuits for breakfast, tradtionally here, at least in the South, they serve them covered with a cream gravy, and on the menu term this biscuits and gravy. Or, you could put a white sauce containing chipped beef on them. Or, just serving them with butter and whatever flavor jelly or jam you like would be scrumptious. It's easier, of course, to make toast. When I make biscuits, it's usually for dinner and I serve them with chicken cut up in chicken gravy.

Now, can anyone tell me if Brits have crackers, and what you call them?

C

PS - I'm sure Fritz will jump in with his biscuit recipe! While he has some pretensions of being a great cook, the above recipe is recommended.

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Yeah Cole, you're right. I can't resist and will have to weigh in. Your biscuit recipe looks good. While I use buttermilk instead of sweet milk, that's a matter of personal preference and of course the buttermilk calls for using some baking soda along with the baking powder. One observation about your recipe and that is that your recipe is an old recipe even though the cookbook it appears in may not be that old. My reason for saying that is that it contains cream of tartar and was probably developed before the modern double acting backing powders were available which took placer in late thirties or early the forties I think. You could probably skip the cream of tartar with little change in the results since double acting baking powders already have it in them.

American biscuits are what many countries call scones, although many scones have more sugar and in some cases also have eggs in them. Basically they are both what is termed quick breads. The typical Irish scone is basically a buttermilk biscuit. Anyhow, for anyone who makes scones without eggs in them, if you cut the sugar back to no more than about a teaspoon per cup of flour and you will have a pretty standard biscuit whether made with sweet milk or buttermilk. And of course there are tons of different recipes including some made with cream as part of the fat. Some people like to use butter instead of shortening, others like lard, and the combination's and variations fats and milks are almost endless.

I grew up with strawberry shortcake being made with biscuits and strawberries only the biscuits had more sugar than normal biscuits had, like about two tablespoons per cup of flour making them much closer to many scones than to biscuits. Just make your normal biscuit recipe except add the extra sugar. When assembling the shortcake, take a still warm biscuit and split it and lightly butter it. Spoon some strawberries over it and then add cream. It is your choice as to whether you want to have your cream whipped or not, but I personally like it straight and simply poured on. It is even better if you happen to own your own cow and can let the cream separate out until it is so thick it won't pour and has to be spooned over the strawberries, but while that is wonderful it isn't worth owning and milking a cow to get it. I'm willing to put up with heavy whipping cream in order to get out of milking the cow, and for you Brits, heavy whipping cream is cream with about 40% butterfat. I think that is somewhat less than your double cream, but believe me, double cream will work fine.

One tip about biscuits and scones. Do not reheat them in a microwave. The suckers get like a good grade of rubber when you do. Years ago I stopped at a restaurant for breakfast and they offered biscuits so I decided to have them. So there I was with two lovely looking biscuits and when I went to tear them in two so I could butter them, the suckers stretched out and then snapped back like they were made out of rubber. I was dumbfounded. I'd never had a biscuit like that and it was a couple of years later when I got a microwave that I learned what had happened. The restaurant had reheated them in their microwave and when I got a microwave and tried reheating biscuits, I got the same results. Microwaves are great for a lot of things, but not reheating biscuits or scones. I will further add that the staler the biscuit, the more rubbery it will get when exposed to a microwave. Day old biscuits get really stretchy.

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"One observation about your recipe and that is that your recipe is an old recipe even though the cookbook it appears in may not be that old. My reason for saying that is that it contains cream of tartar and was probably developed before the modern double acting backing powders were available which took placer in late thirties or early the forties I think. You could probably skip the cream of tartar with little change in the results since double acting baking powders already have it in them."

While you're absolutely correct, that cream of tartar is an old fashioned single acting baking powder and has generally been replaced by the double acting type, it's also true that using the single acting type still does have some leavening effect. The recipe actually talks about this (you'll note it uses both types of baking powder, single and double acting) and says the single acting stuff starts rising earlier in the cooking process, and so having an extra meaure of it in the dough insures a lighter, fluffier biscuit than you'd get without it. I've never tried the recipe without adding it as what you get when using it is exemplary, and why mess with success?

"...It is your choice as to whether you want to have your cream whipped or not, but I personally like it straight and simply poured on. It is even better if you happen to own your own cow and can let the cream separate out until it is so thick it won't pour and has to be spooned over the strawberries, but while that is wonderful it isn't worth owning and milking a cow to get it."

Or you could simply slip under the fence and steal a little milk from the neighbor's cow. That's what I do.

C

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Cole wrote,

Or you could simply slip under the fence and steal a little milk from the neighbor's cow. That's what I do.

Now Cole, me thinks you are trying to pull my leg more than a little. In the first place I have my doubts that there are many cows close enough to you to where you could slip under the fence and steal a little cream. Secondly, it takes quite a bit of milk to get much cream. It takes a pretty good dairy herd to run over five percent butterfat so that means that for every tablespoon of cream it takes one and a quarter cups of milk and that is assuming that your cream separator is very efficient. If you don't have a separator and just let the cream rise to the top my guess is that you will get more like a tablespoon of cream for every two cups of milk. And third, have you ever tried to milk a cow when her head was not locked in a stanchion? My experience with cows says you don't just walk up to them in the middle of the pasture and start milking them. Now you may be able to do that, but I never could. I freely admit that my experience in milking cows is limited to three different cows, but they would never stand and allow you to milk them without having their heads locked in a stanchion.

As for the baking powders. I agree. If you like the results, don't mess with the recipe. I was only pointing out that in blind tests leaving the cream of tartar out will probably not make enough difference to be detectable. If I wasn't so lazy I would run some tests and see what the results were, but I'm happy with the recipe I use and you are happy with the recipe you use, so what difference would it make? And even if I did want to test, it gets pretty complicated to do a fair and honest test. For example, one would need to have some means of assuring that each batch was mixed exactly the same down to counting the number of strokes of the spoon or whatever is used. And really, it isn't like buying that much cream of tartar is going to break your budget.

Take care

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Or you could simply slip under the fence and steal a little milk from the neighbor's cow. That's what I do.

So our Cole Parker lives next door to a dairy farm? And he steals milk from some poor, unsuspecting cow? Oh, my!

Colin :whistle:

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Fascinating!

Aussie colonial convict recipe for scones:

3cups plain flour, although I have used 'self-raising flour.'

2 heaped teaspoons of baking powder.

2 ounces of butter, or margarine, or cooking oil.

Warm water

Method:

Preheat the oven to a high setting (ten minutes).

Prepare an oven tray by smearing with butter, (shortening) and then dust the tray with flour.

Rub the butter into the flour, with clean hands, :whistle: until it is evenly distributed, (do not over do this or the scones will be flat and leathery.)

Add baking powder and mix thoroughly.

Add warm water, a little at a time, stirring or kneading, until you have a slightly gooey dough.

Roll the dough out and flatten to about 3/4 inch high on cutting board dusted with dry flour.

Lightly dust the top of the flattened dough with flour, then cut with a scone cutter or upside down glass about 1/1.2 inches in diameter.

Place the cut out scones on the tray so they touch each other.

Brush the top of the scones with milk, or a mixture of sugar and water.

Leave the scones on the tray in a warm position for 10 minutes. (This helps the scones to rise.)

Place the tray of scones in the oven (mid section to the top of the oven if your oven does not use a fan.)

Check the scones in 10 minutes to see if they are a light golden brown on top.

Use a fork to stab a scone near the centre of the tray. If there is dough on the fork when you withdraw it, they need more time.

If the bottom of the scones is getting dark, then turn the oven off and let them "soak" in the heat at the bottom of the oven for few minutes.

Remove from the oven and cover with a clean tea towel for a few minutes.

Serve hot with jam and cream, or butter/margarine.

If all has gone well the scones should be light and fluffy, about 2 inches high.

Storing the scones:

Seperate the scones, place in a freezer bag and deep freeze them.

Reheating the scones.

Well you can reheat in a moderately hot oven for a few minutes.

The trick for using a microwave to reheat any bread is to limit the amount of time you subject the scones or bread to the microwaves.

Crisp breads with a crust will soften in a microwave within 30 seconds, and will certainly go leathery if heated too much.

About 30 seconds will be more than enough to heat the scone for a pleasurable eating temperature. Any attempt to heat them to "oven hot" will render them rubbery. Some microwaves are more efficient than others and you may need to experiment with time in 15 second bouts.

Standing the scones on a microwave stand in the oven, also helps even distribution of the heat.

The point at which the scone goes rubbery occurs at about one minute in my microwave, so you have to experiment with finding the right temp. You only want to warm the scone, not cook it again.

Do not double the time for two scones. Microwave ovens are not linear in the heating affect, So if one scone is say 20 seconds, then two scones may be 30 seconds, 4 scones, perhaps 35 seconds.

If the scones come straight from the freezer to the microwave, add 5 -10 seconds to the reheating time.

Once you have found the correct time, note it down for future reference.

Making the dough mix a little wetter than normal when you make the scone also helps the microwave reheating process, but limiting the microwave time to no more than is needed to just warm the scone will work to avoid the rubber effect.

Before I found how to use the microwave for reheating a scone, my partner had succeeded in turning the scones into stones by microwaving them for 4 minutes at which time they burst into flames.

You will have noticed there is no sugar in the recipe. That is because it is a base recipe. Adding sugar or sultanas, or anything else are variations and it is a lot of fun experimenting.

My grandmother called the scone a Coffee Scroll, if she added sugar and milk, but then she also cut the dough into short strips and doubled them over when placing them on the tray before putting them in the oven. Googling scones, will bring up more variations then you ever thought possible.

:hehe:

I tried milking a cow once, but she said I was doing it wrong. She got dressed and went home, muttering something about gay men being useless in bed.

"Real Aussie men of course don't eat scones, only women and fairies eat scones." -old Aussie he-man law.

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