Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Not biscuits, but biscuits

Oscar Wilde said of the UK, "We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language."  Writing a food blog has made this very apparent to me over the years.  Using sugar? In the UK it's icing sugar, in the USA confectioners sugar, in the USA you have superfine sugar, in the UK we have caster sugar.  Ask for chips in the UK and you'll receive deep fried potato sticks (or, french fries for you in the USA), in the USA you'll get deep fried potato slices (or, crisps for you in the UK)...  Do you see what I mean?!

So when I saw that the theme for this month's Gluten Free Ratio Rally was biscuits... well, I knew I was in trouble.  In the UK, biscuits are the same thing as cookies (although they tend to be crisp and crunchy instead of soft and chewy) so I had to seek help.  The Husband's parents live in North Carolina, and biscuits are on his "must eat" list any time he visits them, however his description was sketchy at best!  

"Something like a scone, but not a scone, savoury, not a dumpling, but fluffy."

Great. Loads to work with then!  Armed with this sparse knowledge, and having seen a few photos on Google Images,  I hit the kitchen.  Since this was my first attempt at biscuits, I decided to keep it simple.  My efforts were definitely thinner than the photos I'd seen, but the insides had promise, nearly fluffy.  So I read and reread Ruhlman's description of biscuits in his book, Ratio, then I tried again...

The ratio is actually pretty simple, 3:1:2 - 3 parts flour : 1 part fat : 2 parts liquid.  Ruhlman suggests that the lift is created by rolling and folding the dough (as you would with rough-puff pastry), but I added baking powder to help it along!  
While this batch was baking, I spent the whole time with head in hands and bum in the air, peering into the oven to check that the biscuits were rising.  The finished product were still a bit thinner than the photos, but when the Husband tasted them his eyes lit up!  They were fluffy!  They tasted like biscuits should!  Then, the Husband told me that they should be eaten with sausages and scrambled eggs.  Now, this could have easily been a ruse, he might have just fancied scrambled egg and sausage, but they did go well together.

For the round-up of the Ratio Rally this month, head over to Gretchen's blog at Kumquat.

American Style Biscuits

110g butter, chilled
330g all purpose gluten free flour mix (I used Dove's Farm Plain GF Flour)
1tsp salt
2tsp caster (superfine) sugar
2tsp baking powder (make sure it's gluten free)
220g milk
cornflour, for dusting
a little extra milk

  • Weigh the flour into a bowl and add the salt, sugar, and baking powder and mix gently to combine.  Add the butter and rub together with your fingertips, until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. 
  • Add the milk and combine well until a wet-ish dough forms.  Tip out on to a floured surface and knead gently, be careful not to knead away those little lumps of butter.  
  • Dust your worktop with cornflour and roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thick, fold into thirds and roll out again.  Repeat this rolling and folding 2 or 3 more times.  Wrap the dough in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Remove dough from the fridge and pat out to 1/2 inch thick and cut out rounds with a 3 inch cutter.
  • Place on a baking sheet, brush the tops with a little milk, and bake for 10-13 minutes at 220 degrees Celsius.
  • Eat while still warm.

Oh, and my favourite UK/USA word-definition difference?  Pants.

And here's the rest of the gang!
Amanda at Gluten Free Maui made Classic Biscuits and Gravy
Amie at The Healthy Apple made  Gluten-Free Wasabi Parsley Biscuits
Caneel at Mama Me Gluten Free made Whole Grain Pecan Drop Biscuits
Charissa at Zest Bakery made Eggnog Biscuits with Grated Nutmeg
Erin at The Sensitive Epicure made Scallion Biscuits with Sausage Gravy
Gretchen at Kumquat made Sweet Buttermilk Biscuits
Heather at Discovering the Extraordinary made Almond Coconut Tea Biscuits
Jean at Gluten-Free Doctor Recipes made Jammers
Jonathan at The Canary Files made Vegan Sesame Shiso Biscuits
Karen at Cooking Gluten Free! made Biscuit Template with Dairy Free Substitutions
Lisa at Gluten Free Canteen made Fluffy Biscuits, Gluten Free
Mary Fran at FrannyCakes made Gluten-Free Espresso Orange Biscuits
Mrs. R at Honey From Flinty Rocks made Turkey Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping - Gobbler Cobbler!
Rachel at The Crispy Cook made Hummus in a Biscuit
Silvana at Silvana's Kitchen made Gluten-Free Sausage-n-Cheddar Bialy Biscuits
TR at No Ones Likes Crumbley Cookies made Lemon Basil Biscuits


  1. I enjoyed this very funny post. Yes we do have quite a boat load of nuances and wide-scale differences between our two versions of English. Makes watching BBC shows in America very interesting though.

    Great job on the biscuits! You are a natural at it.

  2. I think at the bakery we do use caster sugar, but I think I have seen it referred to as superfine sugar too.

    Loved the visuals you create with your writing.

    Okay, I give. What is the definition of pants in the UK?

  3. so funny... but great job figuring out our "biscuits"! they look flaky and tender, and exactly like something you'd eat on US soil.

  4. Beautiful, and congrats on your American biscuits! Ha there are quite a few differences, and I found myself in a very awkward conversation once mentioning pants to a British person lol. Now I know the difference :)

  5. Thanks. I had fun making them, I'm just gled my husband knew what they were so I could celebrate when I'd cracked it!

    Charissa - Pants is the UK word for underwear, so I often have cause to chuckle when Americans use the word!

  6. I always love a photo showing the inside, though sometimes difficult to shoot. Enjoyed your post and recipe. I will never look at pants again in the same way.

  7. Ha! Too funny! Your American biscuits look quite lovely, love!

  8. Your American biscuits look terrific!! I too discovered that not all flour mixes work when making biscuits.

    Love your comments on the differences between US & England... too funny!

  9. LOL! I love this post! My mom is living in England right now and while I knew some of the differences in words, like biscuit, I've been amazed at some of the other ones! Your "American" biscuits look just like a delicious biscuit should over here. Congratulations on a very good job!

  10. The heart shape really warms this Southern girl's heart. How sweet of you to give it a go so your Southern boy could have a taste of home. He's so lucky to have you.

    Even though your biscuits are thinner, I can tell that they have great potential. Look at that pocket inside. There's good rising and layering in there. Next time don't roll them quite as thin and see what happens.

    P.S. I couldn't tell you how to make a scone to save my life. I'd give it a shot though. It's good to exchange recipes and traditions across the expanses.

  11. Lisa @ GF Canteen5 January 2012 at 01:53

    Love the heart shape and I bet they would be awesome as a short cake. I bet they taste great.

  12. No matter what you call it, your biscuit looks heavenly. Great post!

  13. That's awesome!...Thanks for being brave & trying our American style biscuits :) I've never been to the UK, but I'd like to go someday. In keeping with the UK/US differences, if underwear is called pants, what do you call your (American)"pants"? And, for the record, I've only ever made my own scones & never actually had any made from UK you think my tea biscuits look anything like real scones to you?? :)

  14. Okay, I'm seriously craving some biscuits and gravy now!

    -Amy (the American one)

  15. Heather - we call them "trousers" in the UK! Your tea biscuits are great, I think they look similar to scones.

  16. would love this recipe if it were in cups instead of grams. Looks delicious though!!