I can’t drink tea.
I try it every few years, just to see if I am still repulsed by the nasty flavour. So far, I always have been. I realise that this makes me somehow “un-English”, unable to partake in a ‘nice cuppa’. And it probably makes me completely unsuitable to talk about this topic – dunking. There has been a great deal of research into the physics of dunking, which probably deserves a post of its own. This post is about the pleasure of a good dunk with a good dunking biscuit.
Because of my aversion to tea, I never really partook in dunking until I discovered the joy of drinking black coffee when I went away to university. Before that, I had occasionally dunked a Rich Tea in a parent’s cup of tea but the soft sweetness of the biscuit was somewhat spoilt by the soapy tea flavour. The bitterness of black coffee, however, perfectly complements the sweetness of the biscuit.
The Rich tea makes rather a dull biscuit by itself, but on dunking takes on a softness which soothes and calms. A really traditional dunker (as long as the mouth of the mug is big enough to fit the biscuit into).
Hob-nobs and other oaty biscuits never quite hit the right spot for me. The oat inclusions don’t soften, leaving a bitty texture in the mouth. And dunking a chocolate biscuit is just plain wrong. A slick of cheap chocolate across your drink does not a satisfactory dunking experience make. Only one thing is more wrong than dunking chocolate biscuits in my mind, and that would be the dunking of ‘sandwich’ biscuits such as bourbons (an abomination in themselves) and custard creams. Hot beverages erode the filling from the biscuit, leaving a soggy mass.
For me, malted milks are a king amongst biscuits, with the added excitement of never quite knowing when biscuit collapse will occur. I think it’s something to do with the length of the biscuit compared to its width – the weight of the saturated end causes rapid fracture and disintegration, but the nervous tension is worth it for such a flavour.
Some may say that I’m a rather fussy dunker, especially considering my rather left field choice of dunking liquid. But I know what I like. And what I like doesn’t coincide with a lot of choices in a “top ten dunking biscuits” poll I found online. For a start, there are only nine biscuits! And who on earth could imagine dunking shortbread – an exercise bound to end in slush in the bottom of your mug. But what is the elusive number one dunking biscuit? Further searching reveals the answer. Pah! What do they know?
Sharon Hopkinson (Happy Mouffetard)