The first biscuit was a chunky, dry creation baked to sustain travellers on long journeys on horseback or camel. Prepared from crushed cereals, it was never sweetened. In the 7th century, Persian cooks started to make lighter, sweeter biscuits adding shortening, eggs and honey. By medieval times, spices had been added to the mix. Today the only limitation is one’s imagination.
In America and some parts of Canada, the term biscuit is applied to a scone-like mixture which is served at breakfast with bacon and eggs, or with stews. The ‘biscuits’ help mop up the juices. Hence the word cookie is favoured for sweet treats enjoyed with coffee or tea. However, cookie is now a term that has infiltrated our culinary language as well.
Because many people have been diagnosed with gluten intolerance there is an ever-increasing variety of gluten-free bakes on supermarket shelves along with recipes in cookbooks and food columns. Not all are healthy as many contain larger amounts of sugar to conceal the often rather dry texture.
The saturated-fat versus unsaturated-fat debate has also changed the way we think about baking. If you substitute oil for butter try using three-quarters of the amount. That is, if a recipe calls for 200 grams of butter use just 150 milligrams of oil.
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Gluten free gingerbread cookies
Blackstrap molasses is a versatile natural syrup sweetener for savoury and sweet dishes. Treacle could be substituted. I used a new liquid coconut oil from Olivado. Gingerbread cookies are pictured top left. Get the recipe
Berry nice biscuits
I've used 'Fresh As' raspberry powder available from delis and some supermarkets. Berry nice biscuits are centred, above. Get the recipe
Delicious! If preferred, cut the unbaked log in half and freeze one half for up to 3 months. Chocolate thins are pictured top right. Get the recipe
White choc oaties
Simple enough for the kids to make. The mixture could also cooked in a microwave baking dish for 4-5 minutes. Cut into squares while warm. The baked oaties are pale in colour. Get the recipe