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Dunk and Disorderly

Dunk and Disorderly

By Richard Temple and Jamie Dodger
Centre for Imbibing and Infusion Studies, University of Bristol, UK.


What could be better than a piping hot cup of tea and a nice biscuit? Very little, we think. The cuppa, and the baked goods we dip into it, are cornerstones of our society (Bonds 1989), without which many of the world’s finest ideas would never have been thought up or discussed. However, when the biscuit selection comes round, there is a potential minefield of problems and dunking the wrong biscuit for the incorrect amount of time can lead to a crumbly catastrophe. Here we present a study on seven well-known and popular teatime accompaniments, to find just how long they should be dunked, to avoid a contaminated cuppa.


Each biscuit was first tested for crumbleability by using the crumb index - Ci (Godard 1982). In this context, it is the force needed to reduce a biscuit structure from ‘whole’ to ‘bits’. Correction factors were required for biscuits containing chocolate (Cocoa correction - CoCo) and those containing grape-derived dried-fruit products (GDDF factor). Powdered cocoa used in the core of some biscuits such as Bourbons and Maryland cookies (double chocolate forms) did not need correction, as their cohesive properties were not affected. Bourbons and custard creams do, however, have a filling factor (ff) due to the creamy centre, as this can increase the bonding between layers. Such filling corrections are well understood (e.g. see Brody & Cochran 1976) and are adjusted for in this study.

A lot of tea (Camellia sinensis L.) was