What are the basic differences between scones, biscuits, tea-biscuits, muffins ? I know that cookie is the american word for the british biscuit..

Or is there any other difference?

  • 4
    Some of this covered in Translating cooking terms between US / UK / AU / CA / NZ
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jun 30, 2013 at 1:25
  • 3
    One basic error in the question: cookie is the American word for the British biscuit, definitely not the other way round. In the UK, I have never seen anything that is the equivalent of the American biscuit. Commented Jul 1, 2013 at 15:05
  • thanx @PhilMJones.. i haveedited my question...
    – Shaima
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 1:10

2 Answers 2

  • Scones (UK usage) are a quick bread, usually moderately sweet. They are baked on a sheet pan, sometimes sliced into wedges,sometimes cut into rounds or other shapes. They are similar to, but sweeter than American style biscuits.

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  • Biscuits (UK usage) or cookies (US usage) are very small, flat cake-like confections, usually rich in butter and sugar. They are also baked on sheet pans, in individual portions typically only a couple of inches across (although sizes vary widely). They come in a myriad varieties and flavors.

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    Typical flavorings are vanilla, chocolate, nuts, citrus. Some of the simpler varieties allow the butter flavor to come through.

  • Biscuit (US usage) or tea biscuit (UK usage, one variant) are a type of quick bread charactarized by flat, flaky layers. They are typically cut in rounds a couple of inches across, and tend to be about an inch tall. They are usually only very lightly sweetened if sweetened at all.

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  • Tea biscuit (UK usage, another variant) or teacake are biscuits or cookies traditionally served with tea. They tend to be fairly neutral in flavor.

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  • Muffins (UK usage) or English muffins (US usage) are small yeast-raised breads which are griddled in rings, rather than baked in an oven. They tend to be a couple of inches across, and about half an inch tall. They are often split and served toasted.

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  • Muffins (US usage) or American Muffins (UK usage) are a quick bread, usually moderately sweet, baked in single serving portions in muffin tins (the same pans used for cupcakes).

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  • 2
    Actually Muffins in US are cakes. They're just shaped that way, but formulaically are cakes (hence no yeast). +1 for great breakdown.
    – MandoMando
    Commented Jun 30, 2013 at 1:34
  • 12
    @MandoMando Cupcakes (which were not asked about) are cakes; muffins are quick breads. Neither typically contain yeast. They are not the same thing. Cupcakes tend to be made by the creaming method; muffins are (in a huge coincidence) made via the muffin method.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Jun 30, 2013 at 1:36
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    Then they are incorrect or addressing a different question. Muffins and cupcakes are distinct. Cupcakes are made by a cake method like the creaming method, tend to be sweeter, and are usually iced. Muffins are made by the muffin method, tend to be less sweet and are almost never iced, but may have crumb or nut topping, or no topping at all. If you use the broader definition, almost everything raised with baking powder/soda rather than yeast and baked or griddled is a quick bread, but people rarely use that definition
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Jun 30, 2013 at 1:49
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    This is an English teacake, served as usual with butter: thegreatbritishdiet.co.uk/Images/TeacakeToasted.JPG . This is a Scottish teacake, almost always made by a company called Tunnock's: meandmybigmouth.typepad.com/.a/… Commented Jun 30, 2013 at 18:50
  • 6
    Also, I believe Elendil was trying to make the point that cookies (UK biscuits) go soft when they go stale, and that cake goes hard when it goes stale. This was established as one of the key criteria for distinguishing between cake and biscuits in a UK tax tribunal, as chocolate-covered cake is not liable for VAT, but chocolate-covered biscuits are. Jaffa Cakes were therefore decreed to be cake, and thus the taxman failed to stick a 20% tax on them - hooray! Commented Jul 1, 2013 at 15:14

Why add to the nightmare by dragging in Muffins. Scones, Tea biscuits and American biscuits all had the same origin it seems.

Scones are a tad denser than tea biscuits I think, with Scones being the mother of all of them.

Tea biscuits and American biscuits (Southern style), are similar. American biscuits (Southern style), due to influence of commercialization (Fast food places), became more lighter and fluffier (and unhealthier), and are eaten at lunch and dinner, instead of breakfast.

In Canada (Ontario) we have both Scones and Tea biscuits, but no southern type biscuits, you have to go to Popeye's to get that. Sometimes the tea biscuit also looks like scones, a with raisins or baked with cheese in the batter. In Canada, scones are generally triangular, and that's how you tell the difference. New England and Canada still have/ make the original tea biscuit.

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