Biscuits are the best medicine. At least that’s what newspaper advertisements would have people living in the mid 19th century believe. “These biscuits, when taken regularly by families, have the good property of keeping the body in a regular state”, read one.
The combination of whole-wheat flour and bicarbonate of soda was promoted as a medicine of sorts. More than a healthier alternative to white wheat-flour biscuits, Digestives were prescribed to keep the gut healthy and, as Peter Senior, manager at the McVitie’s factory, which makes millions of Digestives a day, told The Great British Bakeoff, were supposed to aid flatulence. While Digestives aren’t on England’s National Health Service list of foods to help digestion, oats and whole-wheat are, both of which give these biscuits a lovely crumbly texture. This texture is partly responsible for the Digestive being the most dunked biscuit, too—for more than 100 years, Brits have dipped their Digestives in a milky cuppa.
These may or may not be good for your tummy, but making time for tea and a biscuit is without doubt good for the health.
- Mill the oats 12 seconds/speed 10 to form a meal.
- Add flour, bicarb and sugar and blitz 5 seconds/speed 6. Add butter and combine to the consistency of breadcrumbs 7 seconds/speed 6.
- Add enough milk to bring the dough together 5 seconds/speed 5. Start with 2 tablespoons and add a little more if needed.
- Flatten the dough into a piece of cling film about 2 centimetres in thickness and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- When the dough feels firm, roll out onto a floured bench to 5–7 millimetres thickness. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out as many biscuits as possible from the sheet and lay them onto an oven tray lined with baking paper. The leftover dough can be re-rolled, but the more it is reworked, the more elastic it will become and the biscuits might lose their shape.
- Allow the dough to settle in the fridge for 20 minutes while you pre-heat the oven to 160°C—this will prevent the biscuits from distorting when they are baking.
- Bake for 12–14 minutes
AND … Be creative, emboss the top of your biscuits with a sharp knife to create patterns and shapes. You can half dip them in chocolate, add dried fruits, nuts, herbs and spices,