Digestive Biscuits, aka Whole Wheat Shortbread

March 10, 2021
4 Ratings
  • Makes 24 or so 2 1/2 inch cookies
Author Notes

I love digestive biscuits but, thanks to an irritating inner voice that persuades me not to buy store bought cookies, I hadn't had one in way too long. After I discovered white whole wheat flour, I adapted these biscuits from a King Arthur recipe and fell in love. Think toasty, buttery, crisp and sandy textured. Salt, which KA's recipe omits, is key. I also adapt the recipe to use cold butter, rather than room temp butter, because I like the texture that cold butter produces. I imagine you could use this dough to make an especially lovely shortbread crust, too. —halfasiangirl

What You'll Need
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 ounces (3/4 cup) confectioners' sugar
  • 4 ounces (1 stick or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) cold milk (I use 1%)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Ready a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
  2. Cube the butter (1/2 inch pieces or so) and set in the freezer for 15 minutes or so, until hard.
  3. By hand: Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine the ingredients. Quickly, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. Add the milk and work through to form a stiff dough. Turn out on a floured surface and knead until smooth. Using a food processor: Measure the flour, baking powder and sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 10-15 seconds to ensure all the dry ingredients are evenly combined. Add the cold butter and pulse until butter is evenly combined, 4-5 pulses. Add the milk and process 1-2 seconds. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead slightly until you have a smooth dough.
  4. Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to a bit more than 1/8 inch thick and cut into rounds, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. You can keep rolling the scraps together to make additional dough. (If you prefer, use a sharp knife to create square cookies and forget the whole scraps issue.)
  5. Transfer the biscuits to your baking pan and, if desired, use a strand of uncooked spaghetti to prick the biscuits with holes. Bake 15-20 minutes until biscuits are pale gold.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lynne Dolan
    Lynne Dolan
  • nogaga
  • skrugg
  • Barbara Tighe
    Barbara Tighe

4 Reviews

skrugg March 10, 2021
These are delicious! I used regular whole wheat flour and substituted coconut sugar for the powdered sugar. I will definitely be making them again.
Lynne D. October 22, 2020
First off the measurements were not correct. 3 oz of confectioner's sugar is not 3/4 of a cup. Second, the liquid measure was not enough to bind the dough. Had to add more liquid. With that said, these were best "ship biscuits" (think Jolly Roger) imaginable. They were rock hard and tasteless. Hey, I never claimed I was a good cook. Was able to salvage them by dunking them in tea. Will not attempt to make these again. :-)
Barbara T. March 30, 2016
I also just discovered not only this site but this recipe. Will be making these but will be using 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup oats instead of the 2 cups whole wheat the recipe calls for. Thanks for the recipe.
nogaga June 21, 2011
Just discovered these and will definitely make!