We love biscuits and if you are reading this you do too.
And what kind of psychopath wouldn’t? The same kind who doesn’t like hot drinks probably.
Biscuits are the perfect tea accompaniment. Sweetness to round out tea’s bitter notes. Robust enough to soak up just the right amount during the dunk. Palm sized to make sneaking them to your desk without judgement easier.
Gratification should be delayed for a few minutes while your tea comes to optimum drinking temp. When you nail this, it can be a transcendent experience indeed.
We’ve all failed to control our primal urge to snaffle our treats mindlessly on the way to our tea-time destination. You pop the biscuit between your incisors to free up a hand for a door handle or slip off your shoes. Then before you know it, you’re sitting down to enjoy tea time questioning how all you have left of your biscuit is a sugary aftertaste with little memory of the biscuit itself.
And so we come to the point of this blog post.
Here are some biscuit musings for you to keep in mind when making that transition from kitchen to final tea enjoyment location.
We’ll start with the most enigmatic of this list. The gingernut.
Why is it called a gingernut when it contains no nuts and ginger is well known for being a food stuff that is most definitely a non-nut?
Your typical flat, round gingernut doesn’t even look like a nut. Are there any flat nuts? Google says no but if we had to choose, the almond is probably the flattest.
So who put the ‘nut’ in gingernut? One blogger/baker reckons that small cakes were once called ‘nuts’ by bakers but she doesn’t cite her sources so take it with a massive pinch of salt.
We thought it might have something to do with doughnuts but they have a more easily explained etymology of originally being a literal nut covered in fried dough.
The best answer we could find comes from Oxford Reference:
The element nut presumably refers to the biscuits' smallness and roundness (gingernuts seem originally to have been smaller than their twentieth-century descendants).
Not entirely convincing but something to ponder mid-dunk.
‘Dieter’s bane’. A classic biscuit of Scottish origin renowned for its simplicity and buttery richness with a much easier to explain name.
The ingredients, in order of quantity go butter, sugar and flour.
‘Short’ refers to the "short" in shortbread refers to the high fat content, making the dough "short," or crumbly. By coating the individual grains of flour with butter, you inhibit the gluten from developing into the elastic strands you find in a well kneaded pizza dough that gives it a chewy texture.
Historically butter was a luxury ingredient in Scotland so any treat made with such high quantities of it were reserved for special occasions, hence it being a popular thing to fill decorative tins that, for the rest of their useful lives will likely hold sewing kits, miscellaneous batteries or unused passport photos. Much to the disappointment of peckish children across the western world.
This ‘short’ texture is also why you should dunk shortbread with extreme caution if you don’t like goo in your last sip.
Tea-time pondering: You are lucky to live in an age of ample butter.
Oat and sultana
The clue for this one is very much in the title.
The humble oat and sultana is a slightly more wholesome choice as both oats and sultanas are basically good for you aren’t they?
Oats are sometimes describes as a super-food as they’re absolutely brilliant at helping control blood sugar and are a good source of dietary fibre.
If you can do some gentle mental gymnastics and overlook their sugar content, you can feel pretty smug as you dunk the biscuit world’s Delta Force into your brew.
Chewy oats bound together with sultanas will stand up to the most aggressive dunks.
A name that echoes through the pages of history with a hint of intrigue. But what's the story behind this acronym that conjures images of bravery and camaraderie? First off it's not a biscuit, but rather a legendary group of soldiers.
The Anzacs, short for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, were a remarkable group of soldiers from down under. They made their mark during World War I, most notably in the ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign of 1915. Their endurance, resilience, and unwavering spirit in the face of adversity became the stuff of legend.
As for the biscuits, they are primarily made from oats, golden syrup or treacle, and butter or margarine - ingredients chosen strategically for their ability to withstand the challenges of overseas shipping. Much like their namesakes.
Something to ponder when dunking:
In Australia, It is illegal to sell Anzac biscuits as ‘cookies’. If anyone refers to them as such, feel free to perform a citizens arrest.
Be sure to give them the respect they deserve and pay full attention to your treat by not mindlessly wolfing them down!
Chocolate chip cookies are an American classic, born in the early 20th century.
The legend goes that Ruth Wakefield, the owner of the Toll House Inn, was experimenting in the kitchen and ran out of baker's chocolate for her cookie recipe. In a serendipitous twist of fate, she used chopped-up semi-sweet chocolate instead, and voilà, the first choc chip cookie was born!
Or so we thought! In this rather incendiary-titled article, the author argues that the combination of flour, butter, sugar, vanilla, and bittersweet cacao should, in fact, be credited to a Spanish nun named Sor Andrea de la Encarnación from Mexico City in 1679.
Which goes to show you that even something as innocuous as a choc chip biscuit can, in the right hands, become a stick to beat American hegemony with.
And so concludes some of our thoughts on the humble biscuit. If we prevent just one instance of biscuit snaffling before the perfect time comes to enjoy these delightful tea companions then it was all worth while.
Head over to our biscuit section if you’re thinking about restocking your tea time supplies. You will not be disappointed.