A biscuit is a small baked bread or cake.
The exact meaning varies markedly in different parts
of the world, sometimes leading to confusion. The origin
of the word "biscuit" is from Latin via Middle
French and means "twice cooked".
In British English, Australian English and New Zealand
English, a biscuit is a hard baked product like a small
cake which in North America may be called a "cookie"
or "cracker"; it should be noted, however,
that it has become increasingly more common within the
UK and Australia for "cookie" to be used to
differentiate between the softer, more chewy "cookie"
and the harder, more brittle "biscuit".
In American English, a "biscuit" is a small
form of bread made with baking powder or baking soda
as a leavening agent rather than yeast. (Biscuits, soda
breads, and corn bread, among others, are sometimes
referred to collectively as "quick breads"
to indicate that they do not need time to rise before
Biscuits are extremely similar to scones; in fact,
many recipes are identical. In the United States, there
is a growing tendancy to refer to sweet variations as
"scone" and to the savoury as a "biscuit"
, though there are exceptions for both (such as the
cheese scone). A sweet biscuit served with a topping
of fruit and juice is called shortcake. In Canada, both
sweet and savoury are referred to as "biscuits",
"baking powder biscuits" or "tea biscuits".