• The Tenuous Purpose

    This Blog is built - not, as some might expect, on a flimsy whim but on a strong and single minded principle.

    That principle concerns Biscuits and their position in the world.

    We are really very keen on biscuits.
    As are many of you out there.
    We think.

    We wish to create an archive of Arrowroot, a backlog of Bourbons and a catalogue of Chocolate Fingers. Anybody can contribute an entry - or dispute somebody else's - provided they are not dull.
    Even Americans who perhaps don't really have the heritage of biscuitry that we are fortunate to have here.

    Or maybe they do and we are unaware of the full glory of the cookie.

    We realise that this whole subject is admirably and concisely dealt with by that excellent and unbeatable website A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down. Our feeble efforts will be as the kicking of a gadfly in the face of their wisdom and experience but we hope that we may have a small contribution to make.

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  • The Synod of Biscuitry

    James Alexander-Sinclair of Blackpitts
    Gardener, Blogger, Journalist, Lecturer etc, etc. Much of his life is spent loafing around other people’s gardens issuing directives and generally cluttering up the place. However, like the great Mr Kipling, he does (occasionally) make exceptionally good gardens. (Although even Mr Kipling messed up a bit with the Carrot and Walnut Mini Classics.)

    Mark Diacono of Otter Farm
    He does sterling work growing many inappropriate plants in Devon. He dedicates a great deal of time and effort nurturing a plethora of plants that are (mostly) totally unsuited to our climate. His is a life of such extreme eccentric dedication that to start a Blog about Biscuits seems perfectly normal. He treads gently in the footsteps of people like the great William Buckland,a professor of Geology who claimed that he could tell location by tasting the local topsoil.

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Slam Dunk

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)

4 Responses

  1. Hurrah – at last I’ve found someone who can’t drink tea!

    My student friends didn’t believe me when I told them, so one of them concocted a mixture of tea and coffee to test me out. The logic was that the coffee would mask the tea and I would smilingly drink all of the beverage.

    After 2 mouthfuls, I was promptly sick all over the perpetrator of the evil brew!

    I wonder if a few accompanying biscuits to dunk would have made the difference?

  2. I don’t do dunking.
    I never really have. I can’t really see the advantage of having biscuit crumbs in your tea and would rather drink the stuff from a mug than suck it from the half drowned corpse of a previous;y respectable biscuit.

  3. VP – no, tea still is pretty revolting, even if supped through the medium of biscuit.

    James – I always think that, but only after having dunked a couple of biscuits and lost parts to form an alluvial sludge.

  4. Just say no to dunking!

    Biscuits are supposed to be crunchy, not floppy and wet.
    It’s wrong. Very wrong.

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