Small Batch

How to Make Digestive Biscuits

By • March 11, 2014 • 45 Comments

670 Save

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Kathryn from London Bakes is teaching us how to make a classic English cookie like a real live Londoner.

It's no secret that we Brits like a cup of tea and a biscuit -- a proper British biscuit, that is. When it comes to dunking, a recent survey revealed that we consider the chocolate digestive as the very best option. But even without the tea, there's something supremely satisfying about the combination of a hearty oat-filled dough, toffee overtones of brown sugar, and smooth chocolate in a digestive biscuit.

The name “digestive” is said to derive from the belief that the baking soda included in the original recipe helped with digestion. Sadly, modern doctors are no longer in the habit of prescribing a couple of biscuits after meals. But because these cookies are packed with whole grains and oats, I don't feel too bad about indulging in one or two (or three or four).

A good digestive biscuit should be on the savory side of sweet, equally at home topped with a wedge of cheese or smothered in chocolate. I love using whole wheat spelt flour in this recipe for a subtle sweetness with an added dimension of flavor. Feel free to use all purpose flour if you'd prefer.

Digestive Biscuits

Makes 12 cookies

1 cup whole wheat spelt flour
1 1/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup dark muscovado sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
4 ounces dark or milk chocolate, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Put all of the ingredients except the milk in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the milk, little by little, and pulse again until the dough starts to clump together. (You may not need all of the milk.)

Gather the dough together with your hands and knead once or twice to bring it together, being careful not to over-handle it.

Place the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll it out until it's about 1/4 inch thick. If the dough becomes too warm and sticky, pop it in the fridge to firm up. 

Using a round cookie cutter, cut out your biscuits, and place them on the baking tray. Chill for 10 minutes, or until firm.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until just golden brown at the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire rack.

To coat your digestives in chocolate, wait until the biscuits have cooled completely. Then, melt the chopped chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Either dip the cookies in the chocolate or drizzle it over top.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Kathryn of London Bakes

Jump to Comments (45)

Tags: how-to & DIY, small batch, english, british, cookies, desserts, chocolate, digestives, biscuits, tea

Comments (45)

Default-small
Default-small
Default-small

4 months ago Kate

i was thinking of making these with a honey/maple syrup instead of the sugar. Do you think it will work out well or should I try omitting the milk?

Default-small

5 months ago angela

can't WAIT to try these, i love these type of cookies but don't like buying store bought cookies full of icky ingredients.

Default-small

6 months ago Michael

I made the digestive biscuits but added salted carmelized white chocolate on top instead.... Very good with sherry.
Michael

Default-small

6 months ago aunty mags

Being from the UK I can't wait to try this recipe! I adore chocolate digestive biscuits and I'm sure they are just as healthy (or not) as any regular biscuit (sorry - cookie) as anything available in US supermarkets!

Default-small

6 months ago clem ashley

for metric go to your search engine. easy to find as this recipe

Open-uri20131113-25067-b72pi1

6 months ago Patricia Bransford

Fell in love with these biscuits when we were stationed at Upavon in 1996-1999. We here in the States don't have a biscuit like this. Thanks for the recipe!

Default-small

6 months ago Irene Sayegh

Can whole grain wheat flour be used instead of spelt flour?

Xaiacosq

6 months ago londonbakes

Apologies for the delay in replying but yes, definitely!

Stringio

6 months ago Kitty Hetheriton

these look like just what i love, i made something close with dates and honey and such, took them to work and they said that they were "Too" healthy, i said, great more for me, and they are great with a cup of coffee in the morning to get you going or to keep you going, love the afternoon tea, i may do without the chocolate though, will have to try it first

Open-uri20140317-21189-lq2t5l

6 months ago Colleen Russell

Can buckwheat be substituted for the spelt?

Xaiacosq

6 months ago londonbakes

I was thinking about this at the weekend but didn't get a chance to play. My gut is that it would probably be okay but I can't say for sure. One of the commenters below tried it with a mix of buckwheat, nut flour and garbanzo bean flour which sounds great!

Stringio

6 months ago Kitty Hetheriton

how do you print this without printing the whole page??

Default-small

6 months ago Judith A West

So tickled to find this recipe... I fell in love with Digestive Biscuits with chocolate bottoms while living in England in 1970-73... what a joy to find this recipe! Can't wait to bake a batch! Thanks so much!

Default-small

6 months ago Gary Sage

Now now Helen, lighten up ;-), these are treats. They are also scrumptious - not too thick, not too much chocolate - just perfect! Love from England.

Default-small

6 months ago Helen FitzGerald

I used to live in England and lived quite a lot on digestive biscuits - chocolate coated or not. These biscuits are much too thick; they should be more like a very thin ginger snap. The amount of chocolate coating is excessive. There was a reason why these cookies were considered healthy.

Xaiacosq

6 months ago londonbakes

Sadly, I don't think anyone thinks digestive biscuits are healthy these days whether they're covered in chocolate or not! Personally, I don't think less than 10g of chocolate per biscuit is excessive but you may be more abstemious than I am. If so, more power to you! They are a tiny bit thicker than a shop bought digestive because they cook up a little better that way but you are, of course, free to roll them however thick or thin you like!

Default-small

6 months ago Helen FitzGerald

Thank you for the thoughts. I'm certainly going to give the recipe a try; homemade is always better, and in this case I'll find for myself. I'm sure there will always be the crisp versus soft cookie debate. Best regards.

Meeeme_edited

6 months ago Em Hassan

You can never have too much chocolate !

Default-small

6 months ago Carly Robins

I made these gluten free by keeping the oats (GF of course) and instead of flours I used 1/3 cup almond meal, 1/3 cup cashew meal (thank you trader joe's!), and for the last third I used a combo of buckwheat and garbanzo/chickpea flour). I felt like the nut meals would give the digestives the same nutty complexity of flavor. And the result? DELICIOUS. In fact, I think because the nut meals are so naturally sweet I will use less sugar next time. And I would've used coconut milk, but the dough was actually perfect so I didn't need any.

Xaiacosq

6 months ago londonbakes

Oh, that's a great suggestion! Thanks for the comment and for letting me know how you made them. I was thinking hazelnut meal/buckwheat might work nicely but I'm definitely going to try your way!

Default-small

4 months ago Carly Robins

Did you try with hazelnut flour? I am sure it would be delicious!

Default-small

6 months ago alexandra.cook

It never occurred to me that these are hard to find back home. They are a staple at every s/m in Greece where we live in lots of varieties (lo-fat, lo-sugar, w/ omega3, w/ chocolate). Now, to have a recipe to make them at home (and with choice ingredients) that's two thumbs up from me!

Default-small

6 months ago jane learn

out of the blue, i discovered this site (and this recipe)and what a treat! these digestive biscuits are delicious and so easy to make.....it had never occurred to me to make them as Marks and Spencer's are my go-to digestive favourite. thank you, thank you, thank you!

Xaiacosq

6 months ago londonbakes

I'm so glad you liked them Jane!

Default-small

6 months ago Theresatron

"Sadly, modern doctors are no longer in the habit of prescribing a couple of biscuits after meals" HA! Made me lol. I don't know if 'real Londoners' tend to make their own biscuits. Too busy going to Pret and moaning about the congestion zone!

Default-small

6 months ago ozbaker

Whole wheat or white whole wheat will work for these digestives.

Default-small

6 months ago Jantastic

Would whole wheat flour be a good substitute for the spelt flour?

Xaiacosq

6 months ago londonbakes

Absolutely, I meant to write 'whole wheat flour or wholegrain spelt flour' in the recipe so I will update it now!

Default-small

6 months ago kelly.marshall

Thank you, thank you for this recipe! My 18-month-old daughter loves digestive biscuits, and they are somewhat difficult to come by in Seattle. I usually order them from Amazon! They are sweet enough to serve as a treat, but wholesome enough that I don't mind indulging my baby girl. Can't wait to make a batch of these!

Default-small

6 months ago Sistine

What is whole wheat spelt flour? Also is the sugar the same as dark brown sugar?

Default-small

6 months ago ozbaker

There is no such thing as "whole wheat spelt flour" because wheat and spelt are different grains. I think the author meant whole grain spelt flour. Whole wheat flour can be substituted. Also, dark muscovado sugar is similar to dark brown sugar. It is a richer and darker sugar than American dark brown sugar but they are interchangeable.

Xaiacosq

6 months ago londonbakes

Sorry, my ingredients got conflated. It should say 'whole wheat flour or whole grain spelt flour'. As the commentator above says, dark brown sugar is similar to muscavado similar although it's slightly drier and less flavourful. You might not need quite the same amount of milk to get your dough to the right consistency.