ENGLISH DIGESTIVE BISCUITS WITH EINKORN

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Our ABC May project didn’t sound too enticing to me – English Digestive Biscuits. My digestion is not something that usually comes to mind when I bake cookies…. (further comments on this subject were deleted by my in-home censor: “You Germans with your scatological humor – gross!”)

But when I looked at King Arthur’s recipe, I learned that these biscuits were historic cookies, first advertized in 1851 as “brown meal digestive biscuits” in London. They were even patented, claiming to be “nourishing food for people of weak digestion”!
 

Einkorn – an ancient wheat

Historic breads and pastries (or those with a connection to history) always interest me, therefore I decided to bake the biscuits – even though none of us was suffering from weak digestion (nor, for that matter, from undernourishment!)

As several reviewers recommended, I reduced the sugar (from 85 to 50 grams), exchanged the confectioners’ sugar for light brown sugar, and added a bit of salt. And, since I like its nutty taste, I used Einkorn flour instead of whole wheat.

The food processor made mixing the dough a matter of a few minutes. Rolling it out was easy, too, and the dough quite forgiving, even with re-rolling the scraps several times the consistency didn’t suffer.

My cookie-loving husband snatched a biscuit, soon as they came out of the oven, claiming it was a “malfatti” (misshapen), and, therefore, had to be eliminated. I insisted on a more civilized approach to consumption – the cookies were Victorian, after all! – so we had them with our afternoon tea.

The digestive biscuits were really nice, delicately crumbly, with a buttery, slightly nutty taste. The censor decreed they were MUCH better than store-bought ones (“cardboard-y”), and I felt like the perfect Victorian housewife!

Deliciously nourishing and good for you!

ENGLISH DIGESTIVE BISCUITS WITH EINKORN (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
(about 30 biscuits)

  57 g/2 oz all-purpose flour
170 g/6 oz Einkorn flour (or whole wheat)
    5 g/1 tsp. baking powder
113 g/4 oz unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
  50 g/1.75 oz light brown sugar
 1/8 tsp. salt
 1/4 cup/60 ml cold milk

Preheat oven to 350°F/175ºC. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper (or Silpat mat).

The food processor makes mixing the dough a cinch

Place flour, sugar and baking powder in bowl of food processor. Pulse to combine. Add butter and milk, and mix until dough comes together and is smooth.

Plastic foil prevents the dough from sticking to the roller pin

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface or silicone mat. Roll out to a bit more than 1/8″/4mm thick, and cut into desired shape. (I used a round cookie cutter with scalloped edge, 2 1/4″ – 58 mm).

I used a round cookie cutter with scalloped edge

Place biscuits on prepared cookie sheets and prick evenly with a fork (they should stay flat.)

Pricking the biscuits with a fork keeps them flat

Bake until pale gold, between 15 and 20 minutes, rotating sheets 180 degrees after half the baking time for even browning (mine took 20 minutes, convection mode).

Victorian Lady – she would have loved the biscuits!

If you would like to join the Avid Bakers and take part in our monthly challenge, click here. New members are always welcome!

22 thoughts on “ENGLISH DIGESTIVE BISCUITS WITH EINKORN

  1. What a lovely post! I have a nonstick rolling pin, but didn't think to use plastic wrap. I agree they held up well to re-rolling. Annette

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  2. As I am back in Germany now, I think i also have to start to work with Einkorn und the other “old” corns and flours. I love the look of your biscuits, very professional indeed. I'll also have a look at the avid baker's challenge, sounds like a fun thing to do, once my equipment arrived from over the ocean

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  3. Thanks, Karen! I thought the scalloped edge made the biscuits look a bit frilly and gave them a Victorian appeal. I never tasted the original English digestive biscuits, only the US copy (which I found bland), but I understood from some other ABC bakers that they shouldn't be very sweet.

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  4. I found the Einkorn flour a short while ago in our natural food store, and was intrigued. I had never used it before, but I heard from my German friends that it made a bit comeback. It doesn't have as much gluten as regular wheat, but tastes a bit nuttier.

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  5. Thanks, Chrissy! I never heard about these cookies in Germany, it is so nice that we have this international exchange among bakers. I'm eager to see your biscuits.
    Liebe Grüsse, Karin

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  6. Thanks, Zosia. Yes, that was a nice surprise – when I make sugar cookies for Christmas, the last, several times re-rolled ones are always tougher than the first batch. Not so with these.

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  7. Please, join us, Che!
    What I especially like about the Avid Baker's Challenge – Hanaâ often picks recipes that I wouldn't have thought about, like these biscuits, and then it is a pleasant surprise how nice they turn out.
    I like the older types of wheat, used spelt for a long time, but Kamut, Einkorn, Farro (Emmer) also taste really good.
    Are you joining the 2. Plötziade? I'm working on a formula.

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  8. Thanks, Chelly! The Einkorn flour only very recently came to local stores here, it is imported from Italy. If you see one you should try substituting it for whole wheat, I think it tastes better.
    How is the “Baked Sunday Mornings”? Sounds interesting.

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  9. And they will nourish you while you are creating one of your beautiful drawings – no danger of sticking to your fingers either 🙂
    Thanks for visiting, Marielle, I'm glad you enjoyed reading my posts.

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  10. We were brought up on digestive biscuits, they are quite crumbly and rich, well the brand we eat are, called McVities, they come in plain, and chocolate coated varieties. I have never tried making them so might try this to see if they are anything like the ones I know, or maybe better!

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  11. It's funny, Joanna, when I read the reviews at King Arthur some people complained that these biscuits were too rich and should be quite simple. I never tried the McVities brand (I'll check them out if ever I see them), but the biscuits taste very good, and I will make them again – even though I'm normally not the greatest cookie eater.

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  12. Yours looks so pretty, Karin! Glad you liked them. I'm curious about Einkorn. If I come across it my local co-op, I'll definitely try it out. I loved these cookies. Made my third batch of the month yesterday, using 100% WW flour.

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  13. Thanks, Hanaâ! Do try the Einkorn, it has about the same properties as spelt, and a really nice taste. In the meantime, I even found a supplier who carries it in bulk, so I bought 22 lb whole grains, and mill them myself. Though I usually only bake cookies for Christmas, we liked these so much that I'm going to bake them more often, too.

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