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Friday, May 2, 2014

English Digestive Bake-Off: Foods of England

As I mentioned on my post for King Arthur Flour's English Digestives, I'm a big fan of digestives, and have been searching for the elusive, perfect recipe.  That post was part of an Avid Baker's Challenge bake, but it got me started on my grand bake-off effort.  That same day, I also made another recipe, this one from Foods of England.

One major difference with this recipe was it called for the addition of oats.  I used oat bran, and I think it made a huge difference, giving it a nice nubbly texture.  I also found that using unsalted butter and adding the salt as a separate item created the proper tongue-taste I was looking for.  The salt does not become completely integrated --  you can detect single grains here and there zapping your tongue occasionally.

This cookie was considerably more humble in appearance, but that is probably truer to its original form. The dough was very dry and crumbly.  The biscuit was less sweet than the King Arthur recipe; although I wouldn't call it a savory biscuit, it could be paired just as easily with jam or chocolate spread as with a piece of cheese.

Again, I made one quarter of the recipe.  I messed up the butter and milk quantities, so I'm not sure this is an accurate representation.  (I didn't put in enough butter at first, and had to keep adding milk.  I finally realized the butter error and corrected it, expecting then a sticky dough because of the extra milk, but still had to add a little more milk to get it to hold together.)  I also didn't make them the right size (2.5" instead of 3" -- I wasn't thinking and used the same cutter as I used for the KA recipe.) I'll need to try this one again one day.

Here's what I used:

6 2.5 oz plain wholemeal flour
2 0.5 oz fine oatmeal oat bran
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
½ 1/8 teaspoon salt
3 oz 1.5 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 0.25 oz soft brown sugar
3 to 4 1-2 tablespoons milk

Baked at 375F for 13 minutes, they were just barely starting to color and the bottoms were golden.  Yield:  6 2.5" biscuits,  1/4" thick.

I should have left these in for a few more minutes, as they tasted a little raw and tough, but since they were smaller than called for in the recipe I was worried about overbaking them.  I also wonder if using oat bran instead of oatmeal caused the dough to be too dry, as the biscuits were also rather dry even though I added more milk than called for.

Conclusion:  Very good.  Not quite sweet enough -- just enough sugar to take the bitterness off the wheat.
 I liked the salt distribution and the rougher texture, but they're not very rich; a little more butter would improve them.  They were slightly raw-tasting, so a few more minutes in the oven would help as well.   I might spread some milk chocolate on  these.

Original recipe:  Digestive Biscuits via Foods of England.

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