Biscuits, British

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

biscuits, British, describes a vast range of small baked items, mostly sweet and usually crunchy, not dissimilar to some types of North American cookies. Britain is notable for its obsession with sweet biscuits and for pioneering their industrial production. Yet despite a rich baking heritage and a revival of home baking, many traditional biscuits, such as the wafers that were popular across Europe for centuries, are nearly obsolete. Today, when most Britons think of biscuits, the endless mass-market varieties come first to mind: chocolate-covered digestives, bourbon creams, and garibaldis (irreverently nicknamed “squashed fly biscuits” because of the currants they contain). These biscuits are based on a relatively narrow range of ingredients and rely as much on shape and appearance for identity as on flavor or texture.