Sunday, April 27, 2014

English Digestive Biscuits--ABC Bakers

Fresh from the oven!
This is my first "bake-along" with the Avid Baker's Challenge group.  I've seen what they have baked, and I like the variety.  The different items should get me out of my comfort zone to try new recipes.

It's a plus that I already have "met" many of the members of the group over the years in other baking groups!  We have all helped each other.  What a wonderful feeling of support.  My baking skills have definitely grown over the years with their help.

I am also excited to be baking some of the King Arthur Flour recipes.  Their flour is great, and I love the friendly baking help I get from their bakers' hotline.

But "digestive biscuits?"  What are they?  "Biscuit" is the English name for American "cookies."  Actually, as this video states, they were invented to help reduce flatulence!!!

Armed with this information, I set up all my ingredients --mise en place (my mice are all in place, LOL).  This helps avoid running all over the kitchen while I assemble the ingredients.
Ready to bake.  I won't have to run all over the kitchen now
 I made some changes to the recipe: 
  • White Whole Wheat flour, because that's what I had on hand
  • Mostly margarine, to use it up, part butter.
The margarine required me to add more flour, since it has more water content than butter.  Also, I refrigerated the dough for awhile to firm it up more.  I knew this before I began, so I wasn't surprised when the dough felt too soft.  Adding too much flour would make the cookies biscuits dry.

I used a round cutter that was easy to reach on the shelf.  Here's why I didn't go into my cupboard that holds my cookie/quick bread baking supplies for other shaped cutters:
Is there ever enough room in a kitchen?
My friend, Donna Nave ( her blog is ) has introduced me to cake baking, and I am hooked!  I never saw a hobby with so many accessories!!!  Thus, the full cabinet; and an addiction to cake baking, LOL.

Note, this does not include the large tart and mini tart pans I bought after our group member, Karen Kerr, posted the cheddar mini tarts she made for this group.  They are in the pie materials cabinet.  And it doesn't include the double cabinet for my bread supplies. 

Back to the recipe--
Making this dough is very much like pie dough.  You crumble in the butter/margarine until it's the size of small peas.  The dough is kneaded, then rolled out thinly.  The biscuits are cut and placed on a cookie sheet.  Holes are pricked in them so they stay flat.  They were baked at 350 degrees for 16 minutes.

We think they are yummy!!!

The dough looks crumbly until the dough is kneaded for a minute

Rolling the dough until it's 1/8th inch thick

Using parchment paper so my pans don't get greasy!

Enjoying some biscuits with tea and my date spread

Some of the group members have heard about my yummy date spread.  It's very versatile--you can spread it on toast, form it into balls to serve with cheese, or even cover those shaped balls with chocolate!  It's a recipe I modified by a gourmet cook, Judy Zeidler.:

Date Spread

  • 8 ounces ( 1 Cup) pitted dates, chopped
  • 1.5 ounces (1/4 Cup)  raisins, chopped
  • 1/4 cup very sweet wine
  • 2 ounces walnuts, ground (1/8 cup)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (you can vary this amount)

Place dates and raisins in a bowl.  Mix in the wine, then walnuts and ginger.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill.

This video made the job of pitting dates super easy.  Be sure to cut the dates with either a wet knife or a knife coated with vegetable spray.

Since this is a "digestive biscuit," a way for Victorian English to get more fiber in their diets, I thought I'd run this recipe through my recipe software.  I made 28 biscuits from this recipe.  The nutritional data is:

Per Serving: 102 Cal (58% from Fat, 5% from Protein, 37% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 7 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 2 g Mono Fat; 10 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 3 g Sugar; 17 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 20 mg Sodium; 18 mg Cholesterol

That's 3 Point Plus on Weight Watchers.  That's pretty high for a snack, in my opinion.

Of course, many things are better with chocolate:
Biscuits and date balls with ganache

I had some ganache left over from a chocolate torte.  I asked the woman on the King Arthur Baker's Hotline if ganache would work for covering the biscuits and date balls.  She said that it wouldn't get hard enough; I should try just melted chocolate.  My husband's reply was, "Who cares, it's chocolate!!!" 

Of course, the nutritional information of the chocolate covered treats would differ from that stated above.  :)

If you want more information about this recipe, check out:


  1. Great looking cookies, I mean biscuits :) I was lazy and made them square. Thanks for sharing your recipe for Date spread. I love dates.

  2. Great looking cookies, I mean biscuits :) I was lazy and made them square. Thanks for sharing your recipe for Date spread. I love dates.

  3. Welcome to ABC!
    Loved the video - thank you for that. I don't think these cookies are quite like Mcvities "secret recipe" but my family and I also enjoyed them, especially with chocolate!

  4. They look great! I wondered why they are pricked -- glad you answered that. Now, the question remains why they're called "biscuits" -- that means twice baked!

  5. Welcome to the Avid Baker's. The biscuits look perfect especially the ones with the chocolate ganache. Loved the videos you posted. You are so right baking is a hobby that needs many accessories.

  6. Welcome to the group Judy! The biscuits look perfect.

  7. I love your writing Judy! So informative. Thank you for the special "Date Spread" recipe. I am going to have to give that a go!!

  8. Great post Judy! I love the photo of your filled cupboard. =)

  9. Nice to have you baking with us, Judy! Your cookies look delicious, and I had to laugh when I read about your research in the "digestive" part. I did the same, but part of my comments were censured by husband, as being too German ;)
    Thanks for sharing your date spread, I'll give it a try. I never care too much for dates alone, but the combination with the nuts sound good.

  10. What a lovely post! I enjoyed the video and you've inspired me to separate my baking supplies into separate cabinets. Looking forward to future challenges. Annette

  11. Thank you both so much! Yes, the date spread is really good. Hubby loved the date spread balls, covered in chocolate.

    Hanaa, doing squares is a great idea! Much faster. Wish I had thought of that.

    The biscuits were great, though!

  12. Thanks, Annette! LOL on the cabinets--it just makes it easier to fill up more cabinets with baking supplies.


  13. Thank you for the recipes Judy. I am going to make the date spread for sure, and probably the biscuits too. My mother used to make walnut date hermit cookies and they were my favorite cookie ever.

  14. Nice looking biscuits! The date spread sounds really good...I will definitely try!