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Biscuit is a term used for a variety of primarily flour-based baked food products. The term is applied to two distinct products in North America and the Commonwealth of Nations and Europe.
The North American biscuit is typically a soft, leavened quick bread, and is covered in the article Biscuit (bread). This article covers the other type of biscuit, which is typically hard, flat and unleavened.
Variations in meaning:
In Commonwealth nations and Ireland, a biscuit is a small baked product that would be called either a "cookie" or a "cracker" in the United States and most of English-speaking Canada. Biscuits in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and Ireland are hard and may be savoury or sweet, such as chocolate biscuits, digestives, hobnobs, ginger nuts, rich tea, bourbons, and custard creams.
In the Commonwealth Nations and Ireland, the term "cookie" typically refers to only one type of biscuit (chocolate chip cookie); however, it may also locally refer to specific types of biscuits or breads.
In the United States and some parts of English Canada, a "biscuit" is a quick bread, somewhat similar to a scone, and usually unsweetened. Leavening is achieved through the use of baking powder or when using buttermilk baking soda.
Biscuits are usually referred to as either "baking powder biscuits" or "buttermilk biscuits" if buttermilk is used rather than milk as a liquid. A Southern regional variation using the term "beaten biscuit" (or in New England "sea biscuit") is closer to hardtack than soft dough biscuits.