As many of you who follow The Bee’s Knees know, I love to bake. So I was excited to spend some time at Bee’s Knee’s friend Karen’s bakery, Bisousweet Confections. Karen and her team produce amazing biscotti, whoopee pies, doughnut muffins and more. Karen and I have been working in a mentoring group together and got to talking about the deliciousness of English biscuits and we decided it would be fun to make some together.
As Karen loves Digestives (I mean, who doesn’t?) we decided we would start with those.
According to Wikipedia “The digestive was first developed in 1839 by two Scottish doctors to aid digestion. The term "digestive" is derived from the belief that they had antacid properties due to the use of sodium bicarbonate when they were first developed. Historically, some producers used diastatic malt
extract to "digest" some of the starch that existed in flour prior to baking."
We had one recipe from a book I had from The Great British Bake Off (Great British Baking Show in the US) and Karen found an American recipe online. It was so interesting for me to be in a professional, industrial baking environment. Seeing all the equipment and learning about how they make their cookies was fascinating. Needless to say Karen had all the ingredients on hand that we needed for the Digestives. But this is no ordinary kitchen - sacks of flour and sugar, buckets of chocolate chips and mountains of butter all stood ready to be turned into delicious confections.
We began with the American recipe. It was a very easy recipe. Karen used a scale to measure the ingredients. She said they measure all their ingredients this way for the large cookies batches too. She “whooshed” the dough ingredients in a food processor and then rolled out the dough and stamped the cookies. Easy!
As the biscuits were baking we did notice that they were rising up more than we thought they should do. Karen thought this was probably because this recipe had baking soda and baking powder in it. This recipe also called for buttermilk which I thought was interesting. When we got the biscuits out of the oven we thought they didn’t quite look like the real thing so decided to try the other recipe. What do you know? Those came out great. We used the same method to mix them but they had oats in and just baking soda and no buttermilk. We could tell right away that these were going to be better – even me, the amateur baker could tell! And we were right. We melted some chocolate, topped the biscuits and, hey presto, we had delicious homemade Digestives. They were delicious plain too, perfect for dunking in your cup of tea.
Thank you to Karen for having me at her bakery. You can shop online for Bisousweet’s delicious baked goods here: http://www.bisousweet.com/shop/
Here’s the recipe we used that was successful from "Bake it Better - Biscuits" by Anne Rigg:
(Here is a link to the book on Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2we9c9a )
175g plain wholewheat flour
100g medium oatmeal
75g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
200g cold butter, diced
80g soft light brown sugar
225g milk or dark chocolate (optional)
Sift the wholemeal flour, oatmeal, plain flour, bicarbonate of soda into a food processor or large mixing bowl, then rub in the butter until it looks a bit like breadcrumbs or "whoosh" in the food processor. Then add the milk to bring it together into clumps that will hold together well.
Very gently knead the dough in your hands just to bring the dough into a neat, smooth ball. Try not overwork the dough otherwise the resulting biscuits will be tough rather than crisp and crumbly. Flatten into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes to one hour.
Preheat the oven to 325F/170C and line two baking trays with baking parchment. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough until 2-3mm thick, then cut out your biscuits. Arrange, spaced out on the trays, and prick each biscuit with a fork a couple of times and chill for 20 minutes.
Bake the digestives in the middle shelf of the oven for about 11 minutes until firm and light gold in color. Cool on the tray for about 3 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack until cold and crisp.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once the biscuits are cool, dip the underside of each biscuit into the chocolate to coat, and set back on the rack to dry. Before the chocolate sets dip the flat side of the tines of a fork across each biscuit to leave ripples in the chocolate. Leave until the chocolate has set before serving or storing in an airtight container.
And if you would like to seem me and Karen in action at the bakery check out our FB live video here on YouTube: