In their many forms, biscuits have become a part of the culinary tapestry in cultures around the world. These baked treats have stories to tell, from the buttermilk biscuits in Southern kitchens to delicate macarons that grace patisserie windows.
They have also evolved to suit different tastes and diets. This article explores the history of biscuits and their regional variations. It also reveals healthier versions.
What are biscuits?
Depending on where you live, biscuits can be a variety of baked goods. In many parts of the world – especially the United Kingdom – biscuits are sweet treats that come in different shapes and sizes. Biscuits can be crisp or chewy, and they often contain butter, sugar, flour, and other flavorings like chocolate chips, nuts, or dried fruits. These are what Americans call cookies.
American biscuits, also known as buttery, soft bread, are often served with meals in the United States. The texture is similar to that of scones, but they are usually savory and not sweet. The simple flour, baking powder, and salt mixture are combined with butter or buttermilk, milk, and butter. The dough is rolled out or dropped in portions and baked until it turns golden brown and becomes light and tender.
Biscuits can mean different things depending on your location. In the United States, they could be a soft, savory, bread-like product. In other countries, it might refer to sweet, baked biscuits.
What is the history of biscuits?
The history of biscuits can be quite fascinating, and it varies according to the type and region. This is a brief overview of the British and American styles.
The History of British Biscuits
The development of baking and confectionery tradition over the centuries is what explains the history of British biscuits or, as Americans call them, cookies. They were a popular food in medieval times because they could be dried and stored for long distances. They evolved to include a variety of baked items, including both sweet and savory.
Due to technological and commercial advancements, biscuits became increasingly complex and varied between the 17th century and the 18th century. The British Empire expanded, and biscuits were introduced to other parts of the globe. In the 19th century, the popularity of tea boosted their demand. They became a popular accompaniment to tea drinking.
Biscuits became more affordable to a larger audience thanks to the Industrial Revolution. Transport and preservation techniques allowed biscuits to be sold worldwide. The biscuit recipes were adapted by different regions and cultures, resulting in the variety of biscuits that we enjoy today. Each biscuit has its own unique story and cultural significance.
The History of American Biscuits
American biscuits have their roots in early American history. The biscuits have their origins in British and European cooking traditions, especially baking powder and soft flour. They adapted the ingredients available to early colonists.
Due to the availability of soft wheat in the South United States and the ease with which they could be made without yeast (which was often scarce), these baked goods were very popular. Southern sweets, usually made with buttermilk and fat, were a staple of Southern cooking. They were served as a side dish with most meals.
Whether baked in American or British style, these baked goods have been richly intertwined over the years with technological, cultural, and culinary developments.
What are the different types of biscuits?
Each biscuit has its unique flavors, ingredients, and cultural significance. Here are some of the most popular biscuits from around the world:
- Shortbread, or Shortie, is a traditional Scottish cookie made from butter, flour, and sugar. It has a buttery flavor and a crumbly texture.
- Digestive biscuits are semi-sweet whole wheat biscuits that are commonly used to make cheesecakes or with tea.
- Jammie Dodgers is a popular biscuit in the United Kingdom. The biscuits are sandwiched with a jam between two shortbread-like biscuits.
- Custard Creams is a sandwich biscuit filled with sweet custard-flavored cream.
- Bourbon is a rectangular biscuit with chocolate buttercream.
- Gingerbread men are sweet, spiced biscuits in the shape of human figures. They’re often associated with holiday decorations and holidays.
- Buttermilk Biscuits is a Southern classic made from buttermilk, flour, and baking powder. These biscuits are fluffy and light. They’re often served with butter or jam, as well as gravy.
- Drop cookies can be made by dropping spoonfuls onto a baking tray. This gives the cookies a rustic look, as opposed to rolled-out and cut cookies.
- Cheddar Biscuits is one of the most popular recipes in the United States. The addition of shredded cheddar to the dough gives it a savory, cheesy taste.
- Sweet Potato Cookie: Add mashed sweet potatoes to the dough for a slightly sweet, orange-colored cookie.
- Angel Cookies are made with a combination of baking powder and yeast, which gives them a softer texture and a milder flavor.