If you’ve ever been to the UK, you’ve probably sampled McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits (a.k.a. cookies in the US). I know that the name isn’t very appealing, but the taste definitely is!
The story goes that digestive biscuits were first conceived in Victorian times as a medicinal aid for digestion. Thus the name.
I first decided to try my hand at making digestive biscuits after seeing a recipe on the King Arthur Flour site. After reading the reviews and doing further research I settled on Gary Rhode’s digestive biscuits recipe, which sadly you can no longer fine online, as a starting point.
I used the following ingredients for the English Digestive Biscuits: Old fashioned oats, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder, Kosher salt, unsalted butter, and milk.
Making the Digestives
As a first step, I processed the oats in my food processor for about 20 seconds until finely ground. The idea of using the food processor for the entire recipe came from reviews of the King Arthur recipe.
Then I added the whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt to the oats then pulse processed the ingredients about 10 times to ensure that they were well mixed.
To the dry ingredients, I added the unsalted butter which had been cut into small cubes, and further pulsed the mixture until the butter was well incorporated. This took about 10 pulses.
Finally, I added the milk and continued pulsing until the dough somewhat came together. Rhode’s recipe called for 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk. I started with 1 tablespoon, but quickly determined that it needed the full 2 tablespoons. Once the dough had begun coming together, I dumped it out on a piece of plastic wrap. About that time, the master taste tester came into the kitchen and remarked that it looked like contents in a cat’s litter box. Charming, I said!
I kneaded the dough just a bit to bring it into disk, which I wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for about 15 minutes.
When I was ready to actually make the biscuits, I took half the dough, placed it on a piece of parchment paper, covered it with plastic wrap and rolled it to ⅛-inch. I used rolling pin bands to achieve a consistent thickness of the dough. Then I cut out 2-inch cookies, and placed them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Into a 350° F oven the cookies went for about 12 minutes, until the edges began to brown. Maybe it’s my oven, but I found that I needed to watch the cookies very carefully to make sure that they didn’t brown too much. I ended up with 30 absolutely delicious English Digestive Biscuits that the master taste tester enthusiastically approved of with his afternoon tea. Yum!
If you’re looking for another classic English recipe try my Classic English Lemon Posset.
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English Digestive Biscuits
- 1 cup (3.55 ounces, 100 grams) old fashioned oats
- 3/4 cup (3.55 ounces, 100 grams) whole wheat flour
- 3 Tablespoons (1.32 ounces, 38 grams) light brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 100 grams) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 2 Tablespoons (1 ounce) milk
- Process oats in food processor fitted with steel blade for 20 seconds, or until finely ground. Add whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt to the oats; pulse 10 times or until well combined. Add the butter; pulse 10 times or until about the size of corn meal. Add the milk, and pulse until the dough begins to come together, 10 to 15 times.
- Empty the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap; knead several times to form into a disk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C).
- Place half of the dough on a piece of parchment paper that has been lightly dusted with flour. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and roll to a thickness of 1/8-inch (3mm). Cut into 2-inch disks, re-rolling any trimmings. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Remove from oven; cool completely on wire rack. Yield 24 to 30 biscuits.