Posted in Kafevend Blog
A side order of biscuits
As the nights lengthen and the temperature drops, it gets more and more difficult to resist the urge to accompany a cup of tea, or indeed coffee, with a biscuit or two. Perhaps we have an inbuilt primal urge to increase our caloric intake to cope with the winter ahead, or maybe it's just the knowledge that we can hide the bulge under an extra layer of clothing! Whatever the reason it's high time we started looking into the best biscuits to go with a hot drink.
First up we've decided to opt for something very traditional, namely shortbread. Both plain and rich at the same time, shortbread is traditionally made with just three ingredients: flour, butter and sugar. With twice as much butter as sugar, it has a melt in the mouth texture and is a very satisfying snack alongside a pot of tea, especially if you've had the pleasure of baking the shortbread yourself.
It's likely that shortbread started out as a sort of biscuit bread, leftover bread dough allowed to dry out in the oven and eaten as a kind of rusk. In time the yeast content was removed and replaced with butter by the Heston Blumenthal types of the Medieval period. Eventually, the perfect ratio of three parts flour to two parts butter and one part sugar was arrived at. For ordinary folk it was a rare treat and reserved for special occasions such as weddings and Christmas. It would seem to have earned its name from the butter content. Also known as shortening, the fat prevents long gluten strands from forming as they do in bread and lends shortbread its lovely crumbly texture.
Made and consumed throughout the British Isles and beyond, shortbread nevertheless has a particularly special relationship with the people of Scotland and there are plenty of Scottish companies marketing shortbread to prove the point. Arguably the best known of them all is Walkers
. These days, as well as their all butter petticoat tails and shortbread fingers, there are a range of chocolatey options and a gluten free alternative to cater for everyone's quest for a shortbread fix.
Other Scottish choices
If you're worried about your waistline, but still want more than just a tea or coffee alone, it's worth considering another of Scotland's traditional offerings, the oatcake. As the only truly successful cereal crop north of the border, oats have played a significant role in Scotland's food history with porridge and oatcakes forming an integral part of the diet. Oatcakes are naturally sugar free and most are made without any wheat flour making them a great option for a wheat free or low sugar diet.
And, sticking with our Scottish theme, if counting calories isn't something you're bothered about you could always opt for a sweet and wonderfully chewy Tunnock's caramel wafer. Based in Uddingston, not far from Glasgow, the family owned firm has been making caramel wafers since 1952. Choose the red and gold striped wafers for a milk chocolate coating, or blue and gold if you prefer a darker chocolate.
References:History of shortbreadHistory of oatcakes