In America, biscuits are an integral part of a true southern meal. You’ll find them piled high in a basket, awaiting the chance to sop up the gravy. You’ll also find them slathered in sausage gravy at breakfast time. In the UK, they have biscuits too, but what they call ‘biscuits’ isn’t what we call them. Those biscuits tend to resemble cookies instead. More on that in a moment.
It’s interesting that traveling across the pond can cause so much confusion for both Americans and those hailing from the UK, respectively. If you were to visit the UK tomorrow and ask for a biscuit, you would get what you would say was a cookie. And if you asked for a scone, you would get something that resembled that buttery biscuit you love with your breakfast and dinner.
Linguistics is part of the difference, but there is a bit more. While the ingredients are much the same, the biggest difference is that American biscuit and the scone from across the way is that scones have eggs and biscuits don’t. But there are more differences to note. For one, scones tend to be sweeter since they contain sugar while biscuits contain much less. Scones are also denser because they contain baking soda, giving a more cake-like experience. They also tend to contain bits of dried fruit.
With our American biscuits, the dough is kneaded. From there, a biscuit cutter is used to get the dough into proper circles. Scones are not kneaded though. They go from dough to dough balls; then the dough balls are patted down into a circular shape. Biscuits are usually about 2 inches while scones are around 7 inches.
In the UK, scones are served for breakfast or afternoon tea. You’ll never find them without jams or clotted cream nearby. They’re incredibly delightful. Biscuits in America are always served as an addition to a meal. Americans usually use butter or margarine on them or dip them into the gravy. For an American, a scone as we know it is something we’d grab at the patisserie or local bakery for a sweet accompaniment to a morning coffee or tea. The ones here are often indulged in a sugary glaze, making them like a more upscale donut of sorts, one with the texture of a dense cake.
Now let’s get back to what those in the UK refer to as biscuits. As mentioned, we call them ‘cookies.’ These biscuits as they call them can be traced back to the early 19th century. They were made to please the French general. These British biscuits are more like shortbread. They are flat, quite buttery but not overly sweet. Often, they are in flavors like toffee, hazelnut or chocolate.
Whatever you want to call biscuits or scones, whether you’re in America or the UK, you’ll find something delicious. Just know the difference between them when ordering in another country or you might find yourself slightly perplexed.
- A Home Cook’s Biscuit Primer
- A Basic Plain Biscuits Recipe
- Angel Biscuit Recipe
- Strawberry Biscuit Recipe