Empire Biscuit Recipe: Classic Scottish Double Biscuits

by Phil & Sonja
How to Make Empire Biscuits Recipe - Scottish Empire Biscuits on a plate with a bite taken out of one

Want to know how to make Empire Biscuits? You’ve come to the right place! These classic sweet treats are made of two pieces of shortbread, sandwiched together with jam in the middle, this is then topped with icing and a glacé cherry or sometimes a gummy sweet. 

These delicious biscuits actually go by many names, including but not limited to Imperial Biscuits, Deutsch Biscuits, German Biscuits, Belgian Biscuits (in New Zealand, although these can be a little different too), Linzer Biscuits, Double Biscuits, and even Freedom Biscuits!

You might be able to tell from these names that the Empire Biscuit didn’t exactly originate in Scotland, but it is hugely popular here. So much so that it’s found in most bakeries, supermarkets, and it’s on the Greggs regional menu, like the Scottish Macaroni Pie used to be! 

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Why are they called Empire Biscuits?

The Empire Biscuit was originally called many of the names above, including the German Biscuit or Deutsch Biscuit, but it’s said that the outbreak of WWI led to a more patriotic name instead, given this was the time of the British Empire. The name stuck in Scotland, although in other locations it’s still sometimes called a German Biscuit or another variation. 

One Scottish Scran Facebook follower even shared that they found them in a local Scottish bakery under the name Freedom Biscuits… a not so subtle nod to Scottish independence maybe?! Either way, they still tasted great apparently!

Scottish Empire Biscuits on a rack - Shortbread sandwiched with jam, iced and with a cherry on top

Things you’ll need to make Empire Biscuits

Ingredients for Empire Biscuits

  • 300g Plain flour (2 cups)
  • 200g Salted Butter ( 1 cup)
  • 100g Caster Sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 1 Large Egg
  • Jar of Raspberry Jam (we like MacKays)
  • 180g Icing Sugar (Confectioners Sugar) (1.5 cups)
  • Glace/Candied Cherries for decorating
Empire Biscuit Recipe - Double Biscuits with jam, icing and a cherry on a plate and cooling rack

How to make Empire Biscuits – Step by step method

This Empire Biscuit recipe is actually pretty easy to make! It just requires a few different stages to get to the finished product. 

The biscuit used is usually shortbread, but with the addition of an egg. We used the same recipe and method as our Petticoat Tails Shortbread but cut the dough, using your cookie cutter, into individual pieces to cook. 

When making shortbread you always want to try and limit any spread as the biscuits cook in the oven, and this is especially true when making it for Empire Biscuits as you want nice even biscuits. 

Scottish Double Biscuits - Scottish Iced Biscuits on a cooking rack with a cherry on top

Making the Shortbread

Preheat the oven to 200 Celcius or 400 Fahrenheit, or 180C/350F for a fan oven. 

Start by beating the butter until it is softened just creamy, but not too fluffed up or airy. Then add the sugar and mix until just combined. You want the sugar to dissolve into the butter to a caster or fine sugar is best. 

Next, add the flour along with a beaten egg and mix carefully until the dough begins to form clumps. At this point, you can get your hands into it and bring the dough together. 

Tip onto a lightly floured surface and roll the dough out until it’s around 5mm or about a 1/4 inch in thickness. 

You can use a cookie cutter like this one, or the rim of a glass to cut the dough into separate biscuits.

Use a spatula or a pastry/dough scraper to move the biscuits onto the baking tray, lined with baking paper or a reusable liner. 

If you have time, chill for about 20 minutes in the fridge to help stop spreading.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes. The biscuits will stay soft but will start to town slightly and that’s when they’re ready. 

Take them out of the oven and allow to cool.

Decorating the biscuits

Match the biscuits into pairs. Spread jam over the top of the biscuit that will be the base, and press the biscuit for the top gently down onto it. 

Mix the icing/confectioners sugar with just enough milk or water to form a thick but runny consistency. We start with a couple of tablespoons and then slowly add more until it’s ready. 

You can either spread the icing with a teaspoon/knife or use the dipping method. If you’re using a spoon or knife then start with a small amount in the middle of the biscuit and slowly spread it out, leaving a gap before the edge of the biscuit in case of extra spread.

Otherwise, dip the biscuit top side down into the icing to coat it, allow any excess to drip off, and then quickly flip over and pit back on a tray to allow it to harden. You want to try and avoid the icing running down the sides of the biscuit. 

Place half a glace/candied cherry in the centre of the biscuit. Allow the icing to harden and then eat!  

Scottish Empire Biscuits on a cooling rack - Shortbread with jam, icing, and a cherry on top
Yield: 12

How to Make Empire Biscuits

How to Make Empire Biscuits Recipe - Double Shortbread Biscuits sandwiched with jam, iced and topped with a cherry

Empire Biscuits are a Scottish classic! They may not have been invented here but they are a favourite and have stood the test of time, appearing in bakeries and supermarkets across the country. Now you can use this easy Empire Biscuit recipe to make your own!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Decorating Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 300g Plain flour (2 cups)
  • 200g Salted Butter ( 1 cup)
  • 100g Caster Sugar (1/2 cup)
  • Large Egg
  • Raspberry Jam (we like MacKays)
  • 180g Icing Sugar (Confectioners Sugar) (1.5 cups)
  • Glace/Candied Cherries for decorating

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 Celcius or 400 Fahrenheit, or 180C/350F for a fan oven.
  2. Start by beating the butter until it is softened just creamy, but not too fluffed up or airy. Then add the sugar and mix until just combined. You want the sugar to dissolve into the butter to a caster or fine sugar is best.
  3. Next, add the flour along with a beaten egg and mix carefully until the dough begins to form clumps. At this point, you can get your hands into it and bring the dough together.
  4. Tip onto a lightly floured surface and roll the dough out until it’s around 5mm or about a 1/4 inch in thickness.
  5. You can use a cookie cutter like this one, or the rim of a glass to cut the dough into separate biscuits.
    Use a spatula or a pastry/dough scraper to move the biscuits onto the baking tray, lined with baking paper or a reusable liner.
  6. If you have time, chill for about 20 minutes in the fridge to help stop spreading.
  7. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. The biscuits will stay soft but will start to town slightly and that’s when they’re ready. Take them out of the oven and allow to cool.
  8. Match the biscuits into pairs. Spread jam over the top of the biscuit that will be the base, and press the biscuit for the top gently down onto it.
  9. Mix the icing/confectioners sugar with just enough milk or water to form a thick but runny consistency. We start with a couple of tablespoons and then slowly add more until it’s ready. You can either spread the icing with a teaspoon/knife or use the dipping method. If you’re using a spoon or knife then start with a small amount in the middle of the biscuit and slowly spread it out, leaving a gap before the edge of the biscuit in case of extra spread. Otherwise, dip the biscuit top side down into the icing to coat it, allow any excess to drip off, and then quickly flip over and pit back on a tray to allow it to harden. You want to try and avoid the icing running down the sides of the biscuit.
  10. Place half a glace/candied cherry in the centre of the biscuit. Allow the icing to harden and then eat!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 313Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 115mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 1gSugar: 24gProtein: 3g

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4 comments

patsy October 6, 2020 - 11:11 am

Just made these. So beautiful and delicious! Thank you for the recipe.

Reply
Scottish Scran October 7, 2020 - 3:07 pm

Thank you so much Patsy, you’re very kind!

Reply
Barb October 14, 2020 - 8:51 pm

I’m NOT a baker lol, but in memory of my sweet daughter (it’s her birthday today) I am tackling these…really looking forward to seeing what a cookie that’s towning is doing :-)…Thank you for this and all the other Scottish recipes you give us!!

Reply
Phil - Scottish Scran November 2, 2020 - 4:32 pm

It’s comments like these that make our hard work worthwhile. 🙂

Reply

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