Written by adam on Jan 11, 2007
Language of Food: Biscuits or Rolls
"Mmmm, these are good rolls!" I exclaimed.
"Those aren't rolls, dummy. They're biscuits."
I don't know where this memory comes from, or if it was an actual event. But somewhere deep in my mind, that scene plays out as someone chastises me about my knowledge of rolls. At the time I thought, "whatever. just give me another roll." But now that the event has rolled through my mind for the millionth time, I think it is worth exploring the differences and similarities between biscuits and rolls.
A long time ago, I thought this was just a matter of semantics or language evolution. But that is not the case. Doint a web search on rolls vs. biscuits doesn't turn up much, and if one searches for rolls, you don't find much pertaining to food. However, if you search for "Dinner rolls," you can find what you need.
In America, biscuits refer to small QUICK BREADS, which often use LEAVENERS like baking powder or baking soda. Biscuits are generally savory (but can be sweet), and the texture should be tender and light. In the British Isles, the term "biscuit" usually refers to a flat, thin cookie or cracker. The word biscuit comes from the French bis cuit ("twice cooked"), which is what the original sea biscuits aboard ship had to be in order to remain crisp.
A roll (bread roll) is a piece of bread, usually small and round and is commonly considered a side dish. They are often used in the same way as sandwiches are—cut transversely, with fillings placed between the two halves. There are numerous names given to bread rolls, especially in local dialects of British English. Some of these refer to a specific type of bread roll, and others are more general.
Types of biscuits include: scones, cookies, crackers, hardtack.
Types of rolls include: muffin, dinner roll, teacake, barncake, cob, scottie, and bun.
Biscuits are often denser, harder, and can be flaky. Rolls are usually light and airy, maybe yeast-risen, and probably have a higher gluten content
Ahhh, I almost prefer the days when I didn't know the difference. It was akin to the "great taste-less filling" kind of argument. Well, the next time you sit down for a cozy dinner at the Four Seasons and Andre the waiter offers you a dinner roll, just tell him No but you'd like a dinner biscuit.
Responses to "Language of Food: Biscuits or Rolls" ...
regarding the types of biscuits, you neglected to mention the variety most familiar to those of us born in the deep south: cathead
Large, round, dense, chewy crust. Regrettably, the recipe died with my grandmother, as I've never been able to duplicate them.
keep the baking threads coming. I like it, and (like you) I need to improve my baking skills.