Perhaps I have mentioned that the late winter, Pacific Northwest rains are fairly prolific. Plentiful. Excessive, even. It is hard to feel the productive when even the simple day-to-day barn chores leave me cold, wet, with hair that never fully dries. While the seed catalogs fill my mail box and the rain fills the ditches (and every low lying area), I am focusing my creative efforts in the kitchen in order to wile away the days until less formidable weather returns. Like around June… Today’s efforts resulted in these wonderful little Anise Seed and Orange Digestive Biscuits.
Shaped like a flower. Because, spring please…
I am probably showing my UK roots here a little bit. Having had grandparents raised by folks form the “Old Country” (Scotland to be exact), I picked up on the differences within the English language from a fairly young age. A biscuit by American standards is a fluffy baked good that we slather with butter and jam, or sometimes sausage gravy – our biscuits resemble the British scone (and here is my Scottish Scone recipe). A biscuit for the Brits is a firm, often crunchy, slightly sweet “cookie” (by US terminology).
Also, a soft, moist cookie is still a cookie in both places, but I digress.
So what is a digestive biscuit then?
Digestive biscuits are intended as an after meal snack — a nibble on something semi-sweet to settle a gassy stomach. Original recipes contained a large amount of baking soda that probably did have some alkalizing effect on heartburn and bloating, but tastes have long since changed. These days, a so called digestive biscuit probably more closely resembles a straight up cookie. That is to say, not likely to do much for your tummy than help it get bigger and rounder. And I don’t mean from gas.
How about turning these cookies into something a little more digestive with the help of some herbal allies?
Enter anise seed and orange zest.
Anise Seed and Orange Digestive Biscuits
Anise seed is an excellent carminative. Carminatives encourage good digestion while expelling (also preventing the formation of) gas. Anise seed also has anti-spasmodic properties making it particular effective when abdominal cramping and IBS are concerned. It offers a subtle licorice-y note, and so long as you don’t overdo it, this flavor can still be enjoyed by even the most ardent licorice haters. Orange zest not only offers bright citrus flavor, but also aids digestion with its slightly bitter qualities.
A combination of graham and all purpose flour lends a nice, wholesome nutty flavor to the biscuits. Graham flour (like this from Bob’s Red Mill) is simply whole wheat that is processed differently, resulting in a flour with a less homogenized texture. Whole wheat flour is an acceptable substitute. A very modest amount of brown sugar just barely suggests sweetness. These digestive biscuits are a perfect, light after meal snack to settle your tummy and fend off a sweet tooth!
Before you ask where I got my flower cookie cutter — it is from this set. Because flower shaped cookies remind me of spring!
Anise Seed & Orange Digestive Biscuits
These anise seed and orange digestive biscuits are a perfect after meal treat to settle the stomach, ease heartburn, and fend off a sweet tooth!
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup graham flour whole wheat can be substituted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup brown sugar firmly packed
- 1 tbsp orange zest freshly grated
- 1 tsp anise seed not star anise, fennel would be an acceptable substitute
- pinch sea salt
- 8 tbsp butter cubed and softened to room temp.
- 3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse flours, baking powder, sugar, salt, anise seed and orange zest until well mixed. Pulse butter into flour mix until it resembles a coarse meal. Add milk and pulse until a cohesive dough forms. If you don't have a food processor, mix dry ingredients, cut in butter, then add milk and stir until a dough ball forms.
Turn dough out onto a well floured surface. Without overworking the dough, form two dough balls and flatten each to a small disk. Wrap in plastic and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats . Return dough disk to well floured surface and roll out to about 1/8" thick. Using an approximately 2 1/2" cutter, stamp out individual cookies and transfer carefully to lined baking sheet. Scraps can be collected and re-rolled for more biscuits. Dock 3-4 times with the tines of a fork to prevent puffing in the oven.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden, rotating about halfway through cook time to ensure even browning. Cool for at least ten minutes on tray, they transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling. Do not under bake. These biscuits are best cooked until firm for a cracker-like snap.