The word “biscuit” is derived from the Latin panis biscoctus, “twice-baked bread”. Biscuit- covers a wide range of flour baked products, though it is generally an unleavened cake or bread, crisp and dry in nature, and in a small, thin, and flat shape. Biscuits have evolved from different aspects of baking practices such as tarts, pastries, short cakes, and sugar confectionery. They have given rise to the wafer, macaroon, cracker, sandwich, snap, gingerbread, honey cake, rusk, and water biscuit. Biscuits are divided into two main groups. The first are plain or have a savory flavoring. The second type are sweet or semi-sweet in character.
Biscuits are made from a number of ingredients. Flour is the most basic and important. Different types give a range of textures and crispness. Whole meal wheat flour is used in the “digestive,” “sweet meal,” or “wheat-meal” type of biscuits. Oatmeal forms the basis of oatmeal biscuits. Rice flour and corn flour add flavor. Fats give the biscuits their “shortness.” Butter and lard are the main fats, though these are augmented by vegetable and other refined fats. For fancy biscuits, sugar is an important ingredient, and introduces a range of tastes. It is added in several forms: processed as caster and Demerara sugars, syrups, honey, and malt extract. These have a range of consistencies and may help to bind together other ingredients. Aerating and raising ingredients, such as baking powder (bicarbonate of soda and tartaric acid), make the biscuit light. Flavorings are also added. These include dried fruit, nuts, chocolate (powder or chips), spices, herbs, and flavoring essences such as vanilla. The dry ingredients are bound together with eggs and milk (fresh, condensed, or dried) or water. Biscuits have a high energy content, ranging from 420 to 510 kcal per 100 gm.
The process of biscuit-making is rapid and continuous. The ingredients are mixed into a dough that is then kneaded and rolled to a uniform thickness. Biscuit shapes are cut from it, and placed in a traveling oven. Some biscuits require special preparation and cooking techniques.
Most biscuits are distinguished by their appearance: round, square, oblong, finger-shaped, or fancifully impressed with designs. Plain biscuits are normally punched with a cutter or docker, to increase crispness during baking. Fancy biscuits can be covered with sugar, icing, or coated (fully or partially) with chocolate. Each type of biscuit also has its own commercial name, which refers to ingredients, a designation (sandwich, wafer, macaroon, or cracker), texture, eating qualities, and the time when it was to be eaten.
Process Flow Chart of Biscuit manufacturing
Premixing-> Mixing-> Moulding->Baking->Sandwiching/ Cooling->Packing
In this section all the ingredients are mixed and poured in the mixer. At this stage- type of ingredient, its order of mixing, quantity, and temperature matters. Each ingredient has its own importance and action. The variables among the ingredients are water and ammonium bicarbonate (ABC), where water is used for dough making and ABC is used to increase height of biscuits.
Dough formation known as mixing stage. In this step first creaming is performed, all the liquid materials are poured and mixed with sugar to make an evenly mixed liquid, then flour is poured and mixed with the creamed contents. The more we mix the harder dough becomes, less mixing results in short dough. Generally, cookies are short dough biscuits whereas crackers are of hard dough fermented type. After mixing dough with the creamed ingredients dough is formed which is fed to the moulder.
It is a critical step in biscuit manufacturing process in terms of biscuit finishing and weight. Large weight results in losses in terms of extra weight given to the buyer. This extra weight which gets packed to maintain the written weight is known as giveaway. In a moulder there is a knife placed in between a forcing roller and a die. There are two controls present 1st knife control in all four directions up, down, forward and back, and press control in both left and right side of the roller.
Step-4: Baking (200 d.cel)
Baking consists of a number of chambers known as zone. Each zone is an independent oven with its own temperature setting. The large the plant capacity larger will be the number of zones. Biscuit travels in a mild steel continental wire mesh inside the oven. Raising, puffing, and colouring occurs in a sequence with overlapped boundaries inside an oven. Finally, after the oven what is needs to be checked is weather the biscuit is fully baked, even texture, required height, and colour. Biscuit needs to be golden brown to dark chocolaty depending upon the variety.
Step-5: Sandwiching/Cooling (5- 10 min)
Post baking sandwiching is done for cream biscuits, whereas other varieties are sent to packing after passing through a cooling tunnel/conveyor. Sandwiching is the process in which a layer of cream is poured between two biscuits and a delicious cream biscuit is produced.
In packing there are various types of machines which pack the biscuits according to the pack weight i.e., 50g, 100g, 150g etc. and then after complete packing in corrugated fiber carton (CFC) they are sent for loading in trucks.
Bakery products, biscuits including wafer biscuits are made from maida, vanaspati or refined edible oil or table butter or desi butter or margarine or ghee. There are various established processes commercially available and being practiced by different manufacturers. Lots of developments are evident in field of machineries and processes. Biscuits are one of the most popular snacks around the world and liked and enjoyed by people of all age groups. It can be taken with anything from a cup of tea or coffee to milk or just nibbled alone. They can be dunked or eaten as is.
- Corley, T. A. B. “Nutrition, Technology and the Growth of the British Biscuit Industry 1820–1900.” In The Making of the Modern British Diet, edited by Derek J. Oddy and Derek S. Miller. London: Croom Helm, 1976.
- Corley, T. A. B. Quaker Enterprise in Biscuits: Huntley & Palmers of Reading 1822–1972. London: Hutchinson, 1972.