Tuesday, November 3, 2015

INTERNATIONAL: Biscuits -vs- Biscuits

Biscuits – What are “real” biscuits?
Middle English: from
Definition:  Old French bescuit, based on Latin bis 'twice' + coctus, past participle of coquere 'to cook' (so named because originally biscuits were cooked in a twofold process: first baked and then dried out in a slow oven so that they would keep). 

Another definition: The basic meaning of biscuit is ‘twice cooked’, coming into English via French from Latin bis‘twice’ and coctusi ‘cooked’. The name comes from the original process of making biscuits—they were first baked and then dried out in a slow oven so that they would keep.

Another definition: Biscuits were originally cooked in a twofold process: first baked, and then dried out in a slow oven. This term was then adapted into English in the 14th century during the Middle Ages. The English word “bisquite” was meant to represent a hard, twice-baked product.

However later, the Dutch language from around 1703 had adopted the word koekje ("little cake") to have a similar meaning for a similar hard, baked product. The difference between
 the secondary Dutch word and that of Latin origin is that, whereas the “koekje” is a cake that rises during baking.  So if you use the premise that the dough rises then you should call the southern “biscuit” a “cake”.

The early British biscuit was made from oat and/or barley dough with added fat and liquid.  The biscuits were made hard so that they traveled well in the Middle Ages.  “Real” biscuits get soft when older and southern “biscuits” get hard; a muffin gets hard and a cake gets hard.

Southern Americans adopted the “so-called” beaten biscuit from the scone (flour, sugar, baking powder, unsalted butter, egg and heavy cream), but left out the butter, sugar, egg and added buttermilk instead of heavy cream and changed the name to biscuit from scone.  The southern American “biscuit” should be called a “muffin” because it is more like an English muffin than a British biscuit. SEE PHOTOS BELOW!!

British and northern European biscuits were hard and had several nicknames:   oat cakes, cookies, rich tea biscuits, bourbons, jam rings, hobnobs, shortbread, iced rings, digestives (it was believed that health problems were caused by poor digestion so a “biscuit” was recommended every day like our old adage:  an apple a day keeps the doctor away), ginger meats, custard creams, scones, quick breads, cream crackers, winter biscuits, crisp breads, Cornish wafer biscuits and stone bread.  Many of these were used for dunking in tea.

In general, the British, Australians, South Africans, New Zealanders, Nigerians, Kenyans, Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Singaporeans and the Irish use the British meaning of "biscuit" for the sweet biscuit, the terms biscuit and cookie are used interchangeably, depending on the region and the speaker, with biscuits usually referring to hard, sweet biscuits (such as digestives, Nice, Bourbon creams, etc.) and cookies for soft baked goods (i.e. chocolate chip cookies). 

In Canada this term is now used less frequently, usually with imported brands of biscuits or in the Maritimes; however the Canadian Christie Biscuits referred to what Americans would call crackers. This sense is at the root of the name of the United States' most prominent maker of cookies and crackers, the National Biscuit Company, now called Nabisco. 

In other countries hard or "real" biscuits are known by the names:  Fortune Cookies (Asian), Spritzgeback and Biskistmasse (German), Biscuit (French), Bizcocho (Spanish), Biskvit (Russian), Biszkopt (Polish), Cookie (Canadian), Biscotto/Biscotti (Italian), Dhourra (Egyptian) and Buccellum (Roman).

British and European Biscuits

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