In troubling times such as these , we can at least take comfort in one of the many things that Britain does excellently: biscuits. Indeed, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, has waxed lyrical about how his love for custard creams has informed government policy on food parcels.
Speaking on the Telegraph’s Chopper's Politics podcast, Jenrick said, "I have always been partial to a biscuit, particularly when I am in the house on my own, raiding the cupboards. So we had a big debate about what people might like [in the free parcels], and there was a strong view that we should have some good biscuits – and custard creams were certainly high up there."
Jenrick makes a strong case. With their subtle vanilla flavour and buttery-soft crunch, custard creams are a delicious accompaniment to a cup of tea; many other sandwich-style biscuits, from Fox's Golden Crunch Creams to Oreos, have tried and failed to rival such simplicity.
“My favourite biscuit is the custard cream, primarily because they look nice,” says Bin Li, owner of the Chinese street-food chain Murger Han. “I was fascinated to be told the design originates from the Victorian era when the biscuit was first made. The swirls are a baroque pattern using ferns which was popular at the time.”
Jenrick's preferred snack has competition, however. Officially, the UK’s favourite biscuit is the McVitie’s chocolate digestive, revealed in 2018 YouGov poll which found 82 per cent of Britons viewed the biscuit favourably.
Since we're such a nation of biscuit lovers (and, really, we are: collectively British households spent £2.6bn on biscuits in 2018), it's no surprise that we have strong views on them. Do Jaffa Cakes count as biscuits or cakes? How soft does a biscuit have to be before we call it a cookie? Which biscuit has the best dunk factor?
In the spirit of providing some light relief during lockdown, Telegraph food writers and top chefs make a case for their favourite biscuit, and why it deserves a spot in those food parcels. Join in the conversation in the comments section below.
Xanthe Clay, Telegraph food columnist
“I love all biscuits, so this is like asking me to choose my favourite Radio 4 programme. Or child. But right now I have a craving for a garibaldi, because 'squashed-fly biscuits' were what my granny kept in her cupboard (along with glacé cherries in three colours, and Angel Delight).”
Diana Henry, Telegraph food columnist
“Jaffa Cakes are the best! I can’t even buy them because I’d eat them constantly. They combine chocolate with orange – a classic pairing – and they’re more than just a biscuit because they have sponge at the bottom (not very good for dunking, admittedly, as the sponge disintegrates). They’ve been my favourite since I was a child.”
Vivek Singh, chef and owner of The Cinnamon Collection
“The intensity of caramel and the crunch is unlike anything else, and I love the strong deep rich sweetness with my tea!”
Ioannis Grammenos, executive chef of Heliot Steak House
“I really like the plain ones because they are crispy and crunchy and not very sweet, they also can be used in a lot of desserts such as cheesecakes.”
Pip Sloan, Telegraph assistant food editor
“The ultimate biscuit for me is a super crumbly, buttery, shortbread biscuit, but only the thick Scottish variety will do, the kind that has semolina in it and leaves tiny sandy crumbs all over you when you bite into it. A hug in biscuit form.”
Kimberley Lin, chef at Dominique Ansel Bakery in London
"I love these because they are slightly crispy and chewy, and they are sweet, but not too sweet."
Fox’s Extremely Chocolatey Chunkie Cookies
Callum Graham, head chef at Bohemia
“My favourite biscuit of all time. They’re like two biscuits in one – part cookie, part digestive, and totally delicious.”
Maryland Choc Chip Cookies
Tomé Morrissy-Swan, Telegraph food writer
"I don't think there's anything better than a pack of these. Perhaps because my mother was always very health conscious, whenever I got my hands on Marylands growing up, I'd wolf them down in one sitting. The perfect blend of crunch and sweetness that the posher brands could never match. For someone without a sweet tooth, I am powerless before this type of biscuit – which is why I never buy them."