A beautiful floral biscuit recipe fit for a relaxing family afternoon tea or gathering.
I don’t think the Empire biscuit is as popular anywhere else as it is in Scotland.
They are sold in most wee bakeries – you would struggle to walk more than 500 yards in Glasgow without seeing one for sale. As a kid, I was only in it for the sweetie on the top (I have an uncle who adores Empire biscuits, so this was never an issue), but nowadays I love the whole thing. This version omits the jelly tot (I can only apologise) in favour of a more floral and slightly prettier theme.
For the biscuits
225g (8oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
175g (6oz) unsalted butter, cubed
75g (2 ¾ oz) icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon dried elderflowers, rose petals or lavender
For the icing
200g (7oz) icing sugar
Splash of milk
For the filling and decoration
50g (1 ¾ oz) mixed dried edible flower petals (I use dried rose, cornflower and marigold petals)
200g (7oz) raspberry jam
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper.
To make the biscuits, blitz the flour, butter, sugar, vanilla and dried flowers in a food processor until a dough forms. Alternatively, rub the butter into the other ingredients and knead by hand until you achieve a dough.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface until it has the thickness of a 20c coin. Use a fluted round cookie cutter to cut out the biscuits, then reroll the scraps and repeat. You should get 24–30 biscuits, depending on your size of cutter. Transfer the shapes to the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 12–15 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden. Leave the biscuits to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
For the icing, mix the sugar with a splash of milk in a bowl until you have a thickish icing – it should be spreadable. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle.
To assemble the biscuits, pipe a circle of the icing on top of half the biscuits. While the icing is still wet, sprinkle with some of the petals.
Dollop a teaspoon of jam on the underside of each of the remaining half of the biscuits, then sandwich together with the decorated halves on top.
Allow the icing to set fully. These biscuits are best eaten on the day of making, as the jam tends to soften them after 24 hours. You can, however, bake the biscuits up to 3 days in advance of serving and assemble them in the morning of the day they are required.