This digestive biscuit recipe comes from Regula Ysewijn’s British baking book Oats in the North, Wheat from the South: The History of British Baking, Savoury and Sweet (Murdoch Books, £25). Photography by Regula Ysewijn. You can buy the book from Amazon here.
Digestives were developed by two Scottish doctors in the 1830s with the aim of creating a biscuit that could improve digestion, hence the name ‘Digestive’. The most popular Digestives are those made by McVitie’s, which the company began to bake on a large scale in 1892.
Digestives were often called malt cookies and the original patent received was entitled ‘Making Malted Bread’. Cassell’s Universal Cookery Book from 1894 provides a recipe for Malt biscuits. The author suggests that the use of ground caraway seeds is a suitable aromatic for people suffering from atulence, but he also states that any other spices are a possibility.
Today, Digestives are one of the most-loved British biscuits, along with Shortbread and Rich tea biscuits. They are also sometimes made with a layer of chocolate, which is great when you dip the cookie in your coffee and the chocolate melts. I rather like the ground roasted pecans in this biscuit but, if you are a purist, feel free to substitute them with more oat flour.
Digestive biscuits recipe
- pecan nuts 40g
- butter 150g, at room temperature
- demerara sugar 100g
- eggs 2
- baking powder 1 tsp
- sea salt 1 tsp
- oat flour 150g
- wholemeal plain or spelt flour 260g, plus extra for dusting
**Please note that this recipe has not been tested by the olive magazine cookery team**