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Interesting Biscuit facts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The modern-day difference in the English language regarding the word "biscuit" is provided by British cookery writer Elizabeth David in English Bread and Yeast Cookery, in the chapter "Yeast Buns and Small Tea Cakes" and section "Soft Biscuits". She writes,

It is interesting that these soft biscuits (such as scones) are common to Scotland and Guernsey, and that the term biscuit as applied to a soft product was retained in these places, and in America, whereas in England it has completely died out.[5]

The Middle French word bescuit is derived from the Latin words bis (twice) and coquere, coctus (to cook, cooked), and, hence, means "twice-cooked".[6] This is because biscuits were originally cooked in a twofold process: first baked, and then dried out in a slow oven.[7] This term was then adapted into English in the 14th century during the Middle Ages, in the Middle English word bisquite, to represent a hard, twice-baked product.[8]

However, the Dutch language from around 1703 had adopted the word koekje ("little cake") to have a similar meaning for a similar hard, baked product.[9] The difference between the secondary Dutch word and that of Latin origin is that, whereas the koekje is a cake that rises during baking, the biscuit, which has no raising agent, in general does not (see gingerbread/ginger biscuit), except for the expansion of heated air during baking.[citation needed]

When continental Europeans began to emigrate to colonial North America, the two words and their "same but different" meanings began to clash. The words cookie or cracker became the words of choice to mean a hard, baked product. Further confusion has been added by the adoption of the word biscuit for a small leavened bread popular in the United States. According to the American English dictionary Merriam-Webster, a cookie is a "small flat or slightly raised cake".[9] A biscuit is "any of various hard or crisp dry baked product" similar to the American English terms cracker or cookie,[8] or "a small quick bread made from dough that has been rolled out and cut or dropped from a spoon".[8]

In a number of other European languages, terms derived from the latin bis coctus refer instead to yet another baked product, similar to the sponge cake; e.g. Spanish bizcocho, German Biskuitmasse, Russian ??????? (biskvit), Polish biszkopt.

In modern Italian usage, the term biscotto is used to refer to any type of hard twice-baked biscuit, and not only to the cantuccini as in the past.