Celebrate National Biscuit Day on 29th May this year by whipping up a batch of your own.

In a tin from Fortnum & Mason or in a plastic wrapper from the corner shop, we Brits just love a biscuit.

The sweet, humble treat is more emotive in the UK than you might think. Consider the hours devoted in public discourse to whether a Jaffa Cake is a biscuit or a cake; to which is the nation’s favourite biscuit; and to the perennial dunking question.

We know that the Romans enjoyed a sort of biscuit. A version was popular in Medieval times, too. But in the 17th century, as sugar became accessible, a biscuit boom occurred that has never really receded.

Writing for English Heritage, food historian Annie Gray explains it thus: ‘Cooking technology was changing too, and food was undergoing a quiet revolution as Italian and then French influences came to bear.

‘The old guild system was breaking down, and – try as they might – the bakers’ guilds could not stop people baking biscuits at home.

‘As tea became entrenched in the British social scene, biscuits became an integral part of a new ritual, which would eventually become known as afternoon tea.’

We took the biscuit to our collective heart and have never looked back. Heck, we even feel so strongly about them that we celebrate a National Biscuit Day.

Here, we’ve rustled up the finest recipes to help you mark it.

Semolina Shortbreads


Delia Smith


Delia has spoken. She says: ‘This will always be the very best shortbread I’ve tasted.’ Nothing more needs to be said on the matter. Her friend, the restaurateur and early celebrity chef John Tovey, gave her this recipe back in the day. She believes its secret weapon is its semolina. Find the recipe here.


Vintage Chocolate Chip Cookies


BBC Good Food


Purists may not like the presence of chocolate chip cookies on our great British biscuit list. They are, after all, an import from the US, where they were invented in around 1938 when chef Ruth Graves Wakefield added a chopped Nestle chocolate bar to her cookie dough. We defend them, however, in the name of deliciousness. This easy recipe makes soft cookies with a squishy centre that the whole family will devour. Find the recipe here.


Clementine, Honey And Gingerbread Stars


Anna Jones


Trust the food writer Anna Jones, a former food stylist, to create an uber stylish, as well as vaguely healthful, biscuit. This recipe suggests using the stars as Christmas tree decorations, which would be wonderful, but we think they’d work just as well at a summer picnic. Find the recipe here.


Lemon Butter Biscuits


Jamie Oliver


These light and summery treats are, Oliver reckons, ‘so delicious and easy that you’ll never need to buy biccies again’. He recommends swapping the lemon for orange and adding a pinch of cinnamon at Christmas. They’re excellent with a cup of tea but also good as a pudding, accompanying a sorbet or similar. Find the recipe here.


Jammy Dodger Flowers


BBC Good Food


It’s possible that jammy dodgers – like, we think, custard creams and chocolate digestives – should not be attempted at home; perhaps they are best left to the experts. But, on the off chance that some of you are gluttons for punishment, we think we’ve found the one recipe that might work. Coming from the stalwart that is BBC Good Food, it’s worth a shot. Find the recipe here.


Toasted Hazelnut Biscuits


Nigel Slater


Slater says: ‘Sitting down to coffee and a plate of homemade biscuits seems such an absurdly luxurious thing in these days when we have so much to do. I mean, who has the time?’ Which is all the more reason to do it, he thinks. Because he is a person who knows how to live a life full of pleasure, we think we should follow his lead. These rough-textured biscuits are perfect and moreish and best eaten slightly warm. Find the recipe here.


Ginger Oat Crunch Biscuits


Mary Berry
These thin, tasty, traditional biscuits are simple to produce – especially under the guiding hand of the Queen of British Baking – and ensure that teatime goes with a bang. They freeze well for up to three months, too, meaning you can have them up your sleeve for emergencies. Find the recipe here.


Easy Vanilla Biscuit Recipe


Biscuiteers


This is the easy vanilla biscuit recipe that Biscuiteers, the lovely iced-biscuit company, uses every day. If they say it’s a winner, it is sure to be. It’s fun to make a batch and then go crazy with different shaped cookie cutters. A final thought: if all else fails, just buy a box of biscuits from Biscuiteers; there isn’t a prettier treat on the planet. Find the recipe here.

By Becky Ladenburg
May 2022

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