The empire biscuit is a particularly Scottish delicacy: two sweet biscuits sandwiched together with bright red jam, topped with a large helping of icing and obligatory sweetie on top. These floral empire biscuits are a botanical twist on the Scottish classic, pairing buttery biscuit, seasonal jam and floral decoration for a slightly prettier finish (I have to live up to my name after all!). The blooms add a wee peppery, aromatic note to the biscuits, which stops them being overly sweet. Use any jam you have in your cupboard – my current favourite strawberry and elderflower jam made with our glut from Craigie’s Pick You Own was particularly tasty; just make sure it’s thick set and won’t ooze out the sides too readily. To make the floral empire biscuits (via talented and fellow botanically named Scot, Flora Shedden), you will need:
225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
175g unsalted butter, cubed
75g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp dried rose petals, lavender or elderflower (optional)
For the icing:
200g icing sugar
For the filling and decoration:
50g mixed dried edible flower petals, or fresh edible flowers (you can get them in Sainsbury’s these days!)
200g jam – whatever you have, but raspberry or strawberry works well (I used this recipe for strawberry and elderflower jam).
Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/ Gas 4 and line a few large baking sheets with parchment. To make the biscuits, blitz flour, butter, sugar, vanilla and dried flowers in a food processor until a dough forms. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface until it has the thickness of a pound coin.
Use a fluted cutter to cut out the biscuits, re-roll the scraps and repeat. You should get 24 – 30 biscuits (depending on the size of your cutter). Transfer to the prepared trays. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until golden.
Leave to cool on the trays 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 – it should be spreadable. You can pipe it if you want, but I just used a spoon and a steady hand!
To assemble, decorate the top half of the biscuit with a circle of icing and sprinkle on some of the petals while it is still wet. Dollop a teaspoon of jam on the underside of the remaining half, then sandwich together. Allow the icing to set, then serve.
The floral empire biscuits are best eaten on the day of making, as the jam softens them a little – if you want to keep them then simply leave the biscuits undecorated and unfilled, then assemble when required.
What are you baking this weekend? Have you tried floral empire biscuits before?