Kenyan Style Biscuits
EVENT: FOODIES_ REDOING OLD POSTS #38
RECIPE: KENYAN STYLE BISCUITS
What are Kenyan Style Biscuits?
How these homemade biscuits got the name Kenyan Style Biscuits or Kenyan Biscuits, I have no idea. The only thing I know is that most Asian homes in East Africa in the 50s to 70s era made them. Most common flavour was from the cardamom powder but some made ginger flavored ones. For me it was when the women of our family spent time together, doing their share in baking these biscuits. Basically flour, sugar, butter, milk and leavening agents are used to make these super delicious biscuits.
When I was growing up, the only biscuits that most Gujarati families in Kenya made were the rolled biscuits. Its only when numerous recipe books started coming out into the market that I tried my hands at other types of biscuits or cookies.
I remember, my mum would make these biscuits on a Saturday so that I could help her to bake them. Perhaps thats where my passion for baking began. When my eldest cousin got married, my sister in law Chandrabhabhi would make the dough for the biscuits while my aunt (kaki) and I would roll and them. Bhabhi would comfortably sit on the floor and cream the butter and sugar with her hands till the mixture would becomes white and fluffy. And it was never a small batch of dough. Usually 3-4kg flour was used. Back then we didn’t have any fancy machines to help us. And let me tell you, we were a big joint family and that meant baking loads of biscuits.
Fast Forward to Now
Baking these biscuits on my own is time consuming. However, they are simply the yummiest so I do try and bake them for occasions. I usually bake them to gift during Diwali, for birthdays or Christmas. My favorite are the ginger ones while hubby loves the cardamom ones.
THE GROUP FOODIES _ REDOING OLD POSTS
I can’t believe that we’re on the 38th redoing old posts. I want to pat my back as I’ve not missed any so far. That means I now have 38+ posts that I’ve updated. With Christmas just round the corner, I thought of sharing Kenyan Style Biscuits for this theme. I am so grateful that Renu thought of starting this group. It has really boosted me to consciously make an effort to update old posts.
Biscuits or Cookies?
English Biscuits are generally with a slightly firm texture, thinner, crispy and lighter, biscuit dough is usually more harder than a cookie dough. As a result one is able to roll them out. The word biscuit comes from the Latin word ‘bis’ meaning twice and ‘coctus’ meaning cooked. The term came into use around the 14th Century England to describe a confection that is baked and dried out to produce a flat item that softens when dunked in tea. Biscuits were widely used by the seafarers. Ship biscuits or hard tack were baked four times to ensure they wouldn’t get spoilt.
The word cookies originates from the Dutch word koekje which means little cakes. Cookies generally tend to be larger, softer and more dense in texture than biscuits. Besides that, cookies are rolled into balls or scoops of batter are placed on the tray and baked.
Nowadays both the words are used interchangeably.
Some Biscuit/Cookie Recipes you may want to check out:
- Rice Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Carrot Oatmeal Cookies
- Fig and Amaranth Cookies
- Gingerbread Crinkle Cookies
- Double Chocolate Cookies
- Besan Nankhatai /Chickpea Flour Cookies
- Kerstkransjes – Dutch Christmas Cookies
- Cereal Cookies
- Oatmeal Coconut Cookies
- Wheat Orange and Oat Cookies
- Fresh Coconut Cookies
- Dark Chocolate Orange Shortbread
- Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies
- Spritz Cookies/Swedish Butter Cookies by Renu. These cookies look so festive with candied cherries on top.
Ingredients required for Kenyan Style Biscuits:
Plain Flour – All purpose flour
Sugar – white, caster sugar
Butter – I like to use salted butter
Milk – warm milk or room temperature milk
Baking Powder – as a leavening agent
Soda Bicarbonate – Baking Soda, as a leavening agent
Custard Powder – if you don’t have custard powder, replace it with cornflour or cornstarch
Flavour Options – Cardamom Powder, Ginger Powder, Nutmeg Powder
Vegetarian Friendly as it contains no eggs
KENYAN STYLE BISCUITS/ ROLLED BISCUITS
- 500 g plain flour
- 250 g sugar
- 250 g salted butter
- ½ cup warm milk
- 4 tbsp custard powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp soda bicarbonate
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- Sieve together flour, cardamom powder, custard powder, baking powder and soda bicarbonate together in a big bowl.
- Add butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
- Cream butter and sugar till it becomes soft, fluffy and nearly whitish.
- Add milk and mix well.
- Add flour mixture and bring the mixture together into a dough. Don't over knead the dough.
- Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or a lid. Allow the dough to rest for 30-60 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Lightly grease the baking trays with butter.
- Dust the worktop very lightly with flour.
- Take about a grapefruit size of dough and roll it out using a rolling pin. Roll gently. I like to roll it out on a rolling tray or chopping board as this allows me to turn it when rolling.
- Roll it to about 3mm thickness.
- Using a cookie cutter to cut out the biscuits. Remove the extra dough.
- Place the cut biscuit shape on the baking tray, an inch apart.
- Bake them for 10 -13 minutes or until the edges turn light brown.
- While the biscuits are baking roll out the next batch of dough and cut out the biscuits using a cookie cutter.
- Remove the tray from the oven.
- Gently remove the biscuits from the tray using a spatula and allow them to cool on a wire rack.
- Store the biscuits in an airtight jar.
- Use up all the dough. Its easier to mix the extra dough with the new one.
- To replace cardamom powder with ginger powder, use about 5-6 tsp, depending on gingery you want the biscuits to taste.
- Do not knead the dough too much otherwise it will become too glutenous.
- You can reduce the sugar to 200g.
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April 7, 2020 at 10:12 am
I ma bookmarking this recipe. This is a keeper of a recipe and not making any changes in it. Absolutely love them.
April 7, 2020 at 8:07 pm
thanks Archana, they are so famous in Kenya.
December 2, 2020 at 3:59 pm
The name of the biscuit is really interesting. We can easily make this at home as ingredients are pretty simple. Texture looks perfect
December 2, 2020 at 8:29 pm
Thank you so much Amrita. And yes they are easy to make.
Sasmita Sahoo Samanta
May 9, 2020 at 7:00 pm
GReat share. Use of custard powder along with APF must be adding a nice flavorful texture. The cardamom powder also is a lovely twist to these thin baked goodies. I also love to make these type of simple cookies quite thinner which takes less time to bake….
May 10, 2020 at 4:25 pm
Thanks Sasmita, haven’t baked them in quite a while. At one time use to bake them often as the family loved them.
October 13, 2020 at 1:24 am
I am thinking to make Kenyan Style Biscuits, but I am wondering what did you use to make the holes on cookies as they have same holes pattern on cookies. Thanks
October 14, 2020 at 7:14 pm
Hi Rita, I have a round comb that usually the Africans use it for their hair. However, you can use a fork.
June 14, 2021 at 10:36 am
Kenya’s biscuits ….a very simple to follow receipe.
I made these biscuits last week. Turned out very delicious .
However my dough was so soft I could not roll it out. Just rolled into small balls and baked it. Could you pls tell me what I missed to make the dough a rolling consistency?
June 14, 2021 at 8:20 pm
Hello, usually you need to allow the dough to rest for a while. However, even after that if it is soft, you can always add some flour tbsp at a time. But don’t over mix. Usually flours from different brands and countries have different levels of absorbing the liquid. Add less milk than stated.
December 1, 2020 at 2:04 pm
These cookies look absolutely delicious and ideal to store as a snack. I must make these at home.
December 1, 2020 at 9:25 pm
Thank you so much Jayashree. Please share a photo when you bake them.
Hem lata srivastava
December 1, 2020 at 4:01 pm
Lovely memories Mayuri. As I checked the ingredients there are not a lot of ingredients used. Simple and wonderful kenyan style biscuits love it.
December 1, 2020 at 9:24 pm
Thank you so much Hem Lata. Yes wonderful memories and miss family time we use to have.
December 1, 2020 at 4:26 pm
Cookies look so crispy and crunchy.. custard powder must have added a nice crips and flavour to it.. Handmade with love ae the best gifts for loved ones.
December 1, 2020 at 9:22 pm
Thank you so much Swati, whenever I make these as a gift, they are definitely appreciated.
Super duper kitchen
December 1, 2020 at 7:36 pm
Kenyan Biscuits look crispy and perfect to have with a cup of tea. Loved the shape of the cookies and it is so pleasant to read how your family’s project.
Bless my food by Payal
December 2, 2020 at 9:11 pm
Wonderful looking, interesting name and above all, extremely easy to make with very basic and regular ingredients. Really, what else needed this Christmas. They are awesome indeed.
December 2, 2020 at 9:19 pm
Thank you so much. Yes, these biscuits required nothing special and yet they are so delicious.
December 3, 2020 at 3:07 pm
These Kenyan style biscuits look so crisp and crunchy. I would love to try these delicious egg free biscuits. Beautiful clicks.
December 3, 2020 at 5:21 pm
Thank you so much Preethi.
December 3, 2020 at 7:38 pm
Anytime, the biscuits are my favorite over the cookies and I love that you have explained in detail about the difference. I love when you talk about your family and it makes me relate more to the recipe. What fun to sit together and roll cookie doughs and bake 🙂
December 3, 2020 at 8:25 pm
Thank you Sandhya, whenever there is a family wedding, we relive those moments but with now dough mixers, newer family members but its fun.
December 3, 2020 at 7:56 pm
These Kenyan biscuits look so crisp and crunchy with beautiful design on top. I would love to eat them with my cup of masala chai. It’s worth a try as these are egg free biscuits.
December 3, 2020 at 8:24 pm
Thank you so much Lata, please do try them. Perfect for any occasion.
December 4, 2020 at 3:25 pm
My little one is fond of cookies and I prefer home baked ones over the store bought ones. Your Kenyan style cardamom flavored biscuits look Crispy, crunchy and oh so tempting ! Can’t wait to give it a try.
December 5, 2020 at 2:02 pm
Thank you so much Poonam. Do share a photo when you try them.
December 5, 2020 at 8:32 pm
Kenyan biscuits looking tempting mayuriji! Looking at the ingredients, very simple and easy to remember too. Golden day recipes have simple ingredients , nothing fancy but spot on taste! I bet these are perfect gifts for the festive season ahead!! Lovely share mayuri ji!
December 6, 2020 at 6:39 pm
Thank you so much Priya, and you’re so right some traditional recipes are spot on and fuss free. I prepare these biscuits often to give away as gifts.
December 5, 2020 at 11:47 pm
Kenyan styled cardamom Cookies look perfect… so crispy and crunchy. I too add a little custard powder to cookies.. Loved the shape! I just need a cup of coffee to go!
December 6, 2020 at 6:38 pm
Thank you so much Padma.
December 7, 2020 at 8:28 pm
The biscuits are crisp, crunchy.. Perfectly baked! Loved how simple and easy this recipe is.. that too with a few common ingredients. Great share!
December 8, 2020 at 6:22 pm
Thank you so much Geetanjali.
December 9, 2020 at 1:49 am
The pics are so very tempting, it just looks like store brought ones. So perfectly made. I thought the recipe might have so many ingredients, but love the process of this. Thanks for sharing.
December 9, 2020 at 1:31 pm
Thank you so much Renu, these biscuits require ingredients that are easily found in our pantry.
December 9, 2020 at 10:49 am
3-4 kg of flour on a weekend bake ! wow .. thats some marathon baking , Mayuri ! so glad you could share your childhood memories with us and this delicious bake too !
December 9, 2020 at 1:30 pm
Thanks Kalyani, that’s why is was a family affair, all the women of the house pitched in. We were a big family.
Rafeeda – The Big Sweet Tooth
December 10, 2020 at 11:25 am
Totally love this buttery rolled and cut out biscuits and the memories associated with it… It is actually nice to go back to those food that scream childhood to us… Love the addition of custard powder and also that we can choose the flavoring…
December 10, 2020 at 4:44 pm
Thank you so much Rafeeda, we still bake them for weddings when the family get together and its fun.
December 12, 2020 at 7:58 pm
These biscuits look scrumptious. The idea to prick them with a cimb is very innovative.
December 13, 2020 at 4:55 pm
Thank you so much Preeti. Tips you pick up from older women when you work with them 🙂
December 14, 2020 at 9:54 am
When mum used to bake she had a recipe similar to these. She always did them on long holidays and we hogged on them. It is so nice to see this recipe, absolutely will try it out.
December 14, 2020 at 3:20 pm
Thank you so much Seema. Glad it brought back fond memories for you.
December 14, 2020 at 6:55 pm
These cookies are perfection! I love how neat they look and all the detail on them. Perfect for dunking in the tea or giving as edible gifts. Wonderful info on cookies vs biscuits.
December 17, 2020 at 5:21 pm
Thank you so much Maria.
December 15, 2020 at 10:57 am
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post, Mayuri. And the biscuits look so good, I can just imagine what the taste is like. There is a cookie in Singapore and Malaysia called that uses custard powder, but the dough is soft, so we pipe it out. The custard powder adds a nice flavour, I think.
December 16, 2020 at 6:04 pm
Thanks Azlin, this same recipe, but a bit softer is what my aunts used for piped cookies. I personally haven’t tried them but love the melt in mouth texture.
Jagruti’s Cooking Odyssey
December 18, 2020 at 12:01 pm
My dad always talks about these biscuits,(he says Ba Na Biscuits) whenever he mentions Kampala and Jinja 🙂 My grandma and aunties used to make on Diwali in Africa. Then she used to pack them for my uncles and aunts to take with them to the hostel. My mum has written a recipe in her book, which she got from one of my aunts, I must go through that book as we have not baked these in a while.
December 18, 2020 at 7:06 pm
Thanks Hayley, these biscuits were and still are pretty famous among the East African Gujarati community. I remember my mum would pack some for people traveling by ship to India. You’ve got to try them. Am sure will bring back loads of fond memories for your dad.
January 3, 2021 at 5:45 pm
Thank you for the recipe. Do you have to put the holes in the biscuits? When and how do you do this? Many thanks
January 3, 2021 at 7:50 pm
Hello Rakhi, we usually prick the rolled biscuits with a fork before baking. I used a round comb that I especially keep for the biscuits. If you have a new comb use that.
November 13, 2021 at 10:03 am
This will be a terrific blog, will you be interested in doing an interview regarding how you developed it? If so e-mail me!
Leslie Van Guse
April 2, 2022 at 11:38 pm
I made these at Christmas this year. Everyone loved them!
April 3, 2022 at 6:49 pm
Thank you so much Leslie for trying out the recipe. Am so glad everyone loved them.