If a definition of a biscuit were to encompass the wide range of products as understood by consumers and the baking industry, that definition would be different from the one contained in most standard dictionaries. In the United States, the common biscuit is a chemically leavened bread/ roll that is generally circular in outline and flat in profile; it is rather similar in composition to some British scones. This product is sometimes called a baking powder biscuit.
In the United Kingdom, and most of the rest of the English-speaking world, biscuits are the two types of products called crackers and cookies. Crackers are nonsweet products used like bread. Cookie items include a vast array of dessert foods, characterized mainly by being baked in small pieces and having a texture or consistency that is drier, chewier (or crisper), and denser than most cakes, and are usually sweet. An important characteristic of crackers and cookies is that they usually have a much longer shelf life than baked products such as bread and cake. However, intermediate moisture cookies (8-12% moisture) are being sold that confound this distinction (eg, soft-filled cookies, brownies, and fruit-filled bars).
Except for their lower moisture content, crackers and cookies are similar in composition to breads and cakes. The range of ingredient percentages in cracker and cookie formulas will be found to overlap with formulas for breads and cakes. Manufacturing processes, procedures, and equipment are also similar, yet different, for many parts of the process (ingredient handling, mixing, and baking), although the forming, depositing, and packaging equipment may be highly specialized.
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