The history of biscuits can be traced back to a recipe created by The Roman chef
Apicius, in which "a thick paste of fine wheat flour was boiled and spread out on a plate.
When it had dried and hardened it was cut up and then fried until crisp, then served with
honey and pepper."
The word 'Biscuit' is
The Latin words
'Bis' (meaning 'twice')
(meaning cooked or
The word 'Biscotti'
is also The generic
term for cookies in
Italian. Back then,
biscuits were unleavened, hard and thin wafers which, because of their low water content,
were ideal food to store.
As people started to explore The globe, biscuits became The ideal travelling food since
they stayed fresh for long periods. The seafaring age, thus, witnessed The boom of
biscuits when these were sealed in airtight containers to last for months at a time. Hard
track biscuits (earliest version of The biscotti and present-day crackers) were part of
The staple diet of English and American sailors for many centuries. In fact, The
countries which led this seafaring charge, such as those in Western Europe, are The
ones where biscuits are most popular even today. Biscotti is said to have been a favourite
of Christopher Columbus who discovered America!
Making good biscuits is quite an art, and history bears testimony to that. During The
17th and 18th Centuries in Europe, baking was a carefully controlled profession,
managed through a series of 'guilds' or professional associations. To become a baker,
One had to complete years of apprenticeship - working through The ranks of
apprentice, journeyman, and finally master baker. Not only this, The amount and quality
of biscuits baked were also carefully monitored.
The English, Scotch and Dutch immigrants originally brought The first cookies to The
United States and they were called teacakes. They were often flavoured with nothing
more than The finest butter, sometimes with The addition of a few drops of rose water.
Cookies in America were also called by such names as "jumbles", "plunkets" and "cry
As technology improved during The Industrial Revolution in The 19th century, The
price of sugar and flour dropped. Chemical leavening agents, such as baking soda,
became available and a profusion of cookie recipes occurred. This led to The
development of manufactured cookies.
Interestingly, as time has passed and despite more varieties becoming available, The
essential ingredients of biscuits haven't changed - like 'soft' wheat flour (which contains
less protein than The flour used to bake bread) sugar, and fats, such as butter and oil.
Today, though they are known by different names The world over, people agree on
One thing - nothing beats The biscuit!