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Biscuits

 

Types of biscuits, how to make homemade biscuits and lots of biscuit recipes

 

September is Biscuit Month 

 

There's such an array of biscuits on sale in shops, many people don't even think about making their own any more, especially as recipes are often enough to make dozens of biscuits. However if you can buy it, you can bake it, or at least something similar and homemade biscuits can still be made cheaply especially as most recipes can be adapted to make smaller quantities.

 

There are lots of biscuit and cookie recipes on the site, however once you've grasped the basics , making your own variations will be simple, so this editorial concentrates on the different types of biscuits which can be made at home which form the building blocks of homemade biscuits and cookies. 

 

Types of Biscuits

It is more simple to divide the "types" of biscuits by means of the method in which they are made, so below is a chart showing the four main methods plus examples of the types of biscuits which can be made using those methods.

 

 

 

 


 

Rubbed In Biscuits

These types are mainly based on pastries and the name refers to the rubbing in of the fat into the flour as would be done when making pastry such as shortcrust. This is done by placing the flour in a large mixing bowl, then adding butter which has been cut into pieces then rubbing the two together between your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
 

Depending on the type of biscuit being made, other dry ingredients are then stirred in before the wet ingredients such as egg or milk, which will bind the dough together, ready to be rolled out and shaped/cut.

 

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The key factor when making these types of biscuits (as with all pastry) is not to over-do the rubbing in otherwise the gluten in the flour will be over-worked which will make the biscuits tough rather than crumbly.

Sometimes recipes call for "cutting in" the fat. It works on the same principle as rubbing in except it's done using two knives, the blades of which are repeated crossed is a scissor-like fashion in the bowl, which cuts down the size of the fat cubes.
 

 

Here's a basic recipe using the rubbing in  method which makes around 12 small biscuits. This mixture is easily remembered as it's basically twice as much flour to butter, however it can be made richer by the addition of more butter - up to equal parts butter to flour.

 

100g/4oz plain flour
50g/2oz butter, cubed
50g/2oz caster sugar
1 egg yolk
 

Method - Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, add the butter cubes and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar then add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix to a firm dough. Add a little milk if the dough is too thick.

 

Although this the dough is firm, it often benefits from a short time chilling or in the freezer. It can be rolled out to around 1cm/ -inch  thickness before being cut into shapes or can be  moulded into a log, chilled or frozen well, then cut into slices.

 

Creamed Biscuits

The name refers to the addition of the fat to sugar as would be done when making cakes.  This is done by placing softened butter in a large mixing bowl, then adding the sugar, and beating the two together with a wooden spoon or electric whisk, until the mixture is well blended, light and fluffy.

Depending on the type of biscuit being made, wet ingredients are then stirred in such as eggs or milk, before the flour or other dry ingredients are added. These doughs are often very soft, so small spoonfuls are dropped onto baking sheets, well spaced apart.

 

The main reason for using this method is to ensure the mixture is well blended without the flour being over-worked so as to produce a light crumble biscuit.

 

Here's a basic recipe using the creaming method which makes about 12 large biscuits.

 

125g/5oz butter, softened
75g/3 oz caster sugar
1 small egg yolk
1 teasp vanilla extract
175g/6oz plain flour
 

Method - cream the cutter and sugar until pale and fluffy, mix in the egg yolk and vanilla, mix in the flour. The dough is firm but can benefit from a short time chilling. It can be rolled out to no more than 1cm/ -inch  thickness before being cut into shapes or can be  moulded into a log, chilled or frozen well, then cut into slices.

 

You can add other liquid flavourings instead of the vanilla,   additional ingredients such as dried fruit, nuts or chocolate chips, or spices such as cinnamon, ground ginger or curry powder for savoury versions. 

 

Whisked Biscuits

 

The name refers to the way the egg content is treated.

 

Egg whites - these are whisked until firm

Egg yolks/whole eggs - thee are whisked together with the sugar content until thickened and lightened

 

These types of biscuits range from straight-forward whisked egg whites with added sugar in the form of light as air meringues to more substantial biscuits such as coconut macaroons.

 

As these recipes vary enormously, it is not possible to give a generic basic recipe here.

 

Melted Biscuits

 

The name refers to the way certain ingredients are prepared. In most cases, the recipes include liquid sweeteners such as honey, golden (corn) syrup or molasses. All sweeteners (including sugar) are placed in a large saucepan together with the fat content, which is then gently melted and stirred until well combined.  Often the other ingredients are added to the melted ingredients so most of the mixing is done in the saucepan rather than in a mixing bowl.

 

The mixture can be soft enough to easily drop from a spoon such as brandy snaps, or thick enough to press into a tin such as flapjacks. Once again, as these recipes vary enormously, it is not possible to give a generic basic recipe here.

 

 

Basic ingredients used to make biscuits

Using the correct basic ingredients is important if the desired results are to be achieved so always try to  follow the recipe closely. Accurate measuring is also important to ensure the science works.

 

Type of flour to use when baking biscuits

The use of baking powder or self raising flour in some recipes makes the biscuit more puffy. If a recipe calls for self raising flour, this can be substituted with plain flour provided baking powder is also added - a teasp to every 100g of flour.   However, if a recipe calls for plain (all purpose) flour, unless it also includes baking powder, do not substitute it with self raising flour.

Fat content in biscuits

In general, the more fat used the crisper the biscuit will be whilst the less fat used the puffier the biscuit will be.  Depending on the recipe,  solid fats such as butter, lard, margarine and solid vegetable oils or shortenings (e.g. Trex or Cookeen in the UK or Crisco in the US) can be used however it should be noted that whipped spreads are not suitable.


Shortenings and margarine are more stable which helps biscuits keep their pre-formed shapes. Because butter melts at a much lower temperature than other solid fats, they tend to spread out a little more. However, the flavour it gives is unsurpassable, so it is worth lowering the amount of butter in a recipe which otherwise calls for shortening or margarine to ensure the biscuits hold their shape if it is of importance to the finished biscuit.

Sweeteners in biscuits

The type and amount of sweetener used can play a vital role in the way a biscuit turns out. In general,  reducing the amount of sugar called for in a biscuit recipe helps to bake the finished biscuit more puffy.

 

White sugar makes crisper biscuits than brown sugar

Brown sugar tend to absorb moisture after baking which helps them to stay chewy. 

Liquid sweeteners such as honey or golden (corn) syrup  help the finished biscuit to be moist or chewy.



Liquids in biscuits

Many liquids can be used to flavour such as vanilla extract,  almond essence, lemon or orange juice. These are generally used in small quantities which doesn't have too much effect on the structure of the finished biscuit. However, liquids used primarily to bind the dough can either cause biscuits to puff up or spread out.

 

Milk or water will help biscuits to spread and will help create a crisper finish.

Egg yolks add richness and also help create a crisper finish.

Egg whites tend to make biscuits more dry so extra sugar is often added to counteract this.

 

Amending recipes

Baking large amounts of biscuits, referred to as 'batch baking' is as simple as doubling the ingredients (more than that and you'd probably have to consider getting another oven). However it is also possible to bake smaller amounts of biscuits provided you are careful when measuring out ingredients, particularly when it comes to eggs - even if you have to resort to using teaspoons.

 

Biscuit Recipes

 

Biscotti - How to make cupcakes plus lots of Biscotti Recipes    New !   August  2010

Chocolate Praline Bars     Veg  CD  CBF  10mins plus chilling   January 2003

Irish Christmas Shamrocks  Veg  CD  CBF   British 20mins        

Honeyed Chocolate Cornflakes  Veg  CD CBF    20mins plus setting 

Laverbread Oatcakes    Veg  HT  CBF  Welsh  20mins      February 2008

Slapan (Bakestones)  Veg  HT  CBF  Welsh   20mins  

Brandy Snaps  Veg  CD  CBF  25mins

Christmas Macaroons   Veg  CD CBF   British    25mins           

Congolais     Veg  CD  HT  DP  CBF  French  25mins  November  2003 

Devon Flats     Veg   CD   CBF  English   25mins    September  2002

Easter Bunny Biscuits    Veg  CD  CBF  25mins     New !   March  2010

Lacey Molasses Wafers    Veg   CD  CBF  25mins

Lemon Shortbreads  Veg  CD  CBF  25mins plus chilling 

Lime Shortbreads   CD  Veg  CBF  25mins plus chilling      April  2004

Peanut Butter Biscuits   Veg  CD  CBF  English  25mins           

Pineapple Cornflake Flapjacks    Veg  CD   CBF   25mins          

Rum Butter Biscuits    Veg  CD CBF  25mins

Sesame Cheese Crackers       Veg  CD  CBF  25mins    October 2003

Sultana and Walnut Biscuits   Veg  CD  CBF    25mins   

Caraway Seed Biscuits    Veg  CD  CBF   30mins 

Chocolate Macaroon Fingers  Veg C  CBF    30mins plus setting 

Chocolate and Hazelnut Chip Cookies   Veg   CD CBF   N.American     30mins

Cinnamon Biscuits    Veg  CD  CBF  E. European    30mins 

Country Cookies    Veg   CD  CBF  30mins

Currant Biscuits    Veg   CD  CBF  30mins

Date Biscuits     Veg   CD   CBF   30mins     January 2003

Gingernut Biscuits   Veg   CD  CBF   30mins         

Oatmeal Drop Biscuits    Veg  CD  CBF  Canadian  30mins       September  2006

Paderewskis    Veg  CD  CBF  Polish  30mins           May  2005

Tuilles    Veg  CD  CBF  30mins          July  2005

Vanilla Wafers     Veg   CD  CBF  30mins plus cooling 

Anzac Biscuits     Veg   CD  CBF  Australian  35mins plus cooling    June  2005

Chambergos   Veg   CD   CBF   Mexican   35mins plus cooling      December 2002

Coconut Macaroons     Veg  CD  CBF  35mins      New !   May  2011

Cornflake Cookies   Veg  CD  CBF    35mins      

Double Layered Biscuits      Veg CD CBF Argentine 35mins    October 2003

Langues de Chat    Veg    CD  CBF     French     35mins

Lavender Biscuits    Veg  CD  CBF  35mins       March  2008

Lime Biscuits      Veg   CD   CBF   35mins plus cooling     April  2004

Nutty Sweet Potato Biscuits     Veg  CD  CBF  35mins       February  2006

Olive Oil and Lemon Biscuits    Veg   CD   CBF   35mins   August  2002

Peanut Butter Cookies    Veg    CD  CBF     N. American     35mins

Russian Tea Biscuits     Veg  CD  CBF  Russian  35mins         December 2004

Venezuelan Butter Biscuits     Veg  CD  CBF  Venezuelan  35mins        June  2004

Abernethy Biscuits     Veg  CD  CBF  Scottish  40mins          November  2006

Almond Macaroons      Veg   CD  CBF  40mins         New !   May  2011

Biscoitos de Maizena    Veg   CD   CBF   Brazilian 40mins   July  2002

Butter Biscuits   Veg   CD CBF    40mins

Cardamom Biscuits     Veg  CD  CBF  40mins         May  2004

Coconut Drops     Veg    CD   CBF   West Indian 40mins   May  2002

Hertzog Cookies    Veg  CD  CBF  S African   40mins plus cooling   September 2003 

Indonesian 2 Tone Biscuits     Veg  CD  CBF 40mins plus chilling     July 2003

Pecan Biscuits    Veg    CD  CBF     N. American 40mins

Savoury Curry Biscuits    Veg   CD  CBF     40mins

South African Rusks    Veg  CD  CBF  S. African   40mins plus drying   Sept2003 

Two Cheese Drop Biscuits     Veg   HT   CBF   English 40mins     December 2001

Berry Oat Biscuits    Veg  CD  CBF  45mins       October  2006

Double Chocolate Macarons     Veg   CD   45mins plus resting       New !   May  2011

Fried Yoghurt Biscuits    Veg  HT  CD  CBF  Bulgarian   45mins plus chilling  March  2004

Kourabiedes       Veg  CD  CBF  Greek  45mins    August  2002

Lemon Macarons     Veg   CD   45mins plus resting       New !   May  2011

Mango Mascarpone Macarons     Veg   CD   45mins plus resting    New !   May  2011

Orange Biscuits    Veg    CD  CBF     45mins    

Poppy Seed Biscuits    Veg    CD  CBF     45mins plus standing time

Strawberry Macarons     Veg   CD   45mins plus resting     New !   May  2011

Turkish Shortbread      Veg   CD  CBF   Turkish   45mins    August 2003

Vanilla Macarons     Veg    CD    45mins plus resting        New !   May  2011

Apple Flapjacks    Veg    CD   CBF    50mins

Christmas Tree Biscuits    Veg  CD  CBF     50mins       

Florentines    Veg    CD  CBF     Italian     50mins

Rhubarb Biscuits     Veg   CD   CBF   English   50mins    April 2002

Saffron Biscuits    Veg  CD   CBF   50mins     

Semolina Date Biscuits     Veg  HT  CBF  Tunisian  50mins plus resting     March  2006

Date 'n Nut Drops    Veg    CD  CBF     55mins

Honey Nut Biscuits    Veg    CD  CBF     55mins

Honey Short Bread    Veg   CD   CBF   55mins    March 2003

Shortbread    Veg    CD   CBF   55mins

Flapjacks    Veg     C    British   CBF    65mins

Almond Biscotti   Veg   CD   CBF   70mins        October  2006

Royal Scottish Shortbread    Veg  CD  CBF  Scottish  70mins          November  2006

Strawberry & Almond Tartlets    Veg    CBF     75mins

Homemade Cherry Pistachio Biscotti   Video    New !   August  2010

Orange Almond Biscotti     Veg  Italian  CD  CBF  80mins     New !   August  2010

Sultana Pecan Biscotti     Veg  Italian  CD  CBF  80mins     New !   August  2010

Millionaire Bars      Veg   CD   CBF   90mins plus cooling  January 2003

Cherry Pine Nut Biscotti     Veg  CD  CBF  Italian  90mins   July 2003

Spiced Almond Biscotti   Veg  CD  CBF  Italian  90mins          May  2005

Chocolate Walnut Biscotti    Veg  CD CBF   Italian  100mins plus chill       

 

 

 

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