Classic Empire Biscuits are one of the most popular bakery treats in Scotland – but you can easily make them at home! Tender, buttery biscuits filled with jam, topped with icing and topped with a cherry or jelly sweet. This Empire biscuit recipe will be loved by everyone!
Soft, buttery biscuits sandwiched together with fruity jam, topped with icing and adorned with a jelly tot (or joob joob as they’re commonly known as in Scotland!) or glace cherry – what’s not to love about the classic Empire biscuit?
No wonder this biscuit is adored by both children and adults in equal measures!
Empire biscuits will always hold a certain retro charm for me. They take me back to the days when the local bakery van used to come round our street on a Saturday and I was allowed to choose a treat.
I remember being very indecisive – how could I possibly just choose one thing out of all these gorgeous looking sweet treats? More often than not I chose a cream cookie (a sweet bun filled with cream and dusted with icing sugar), a pink finger or an empire biscuit.
If I was really lucky, I would be allowed a small bag of traditional Scottish tablet and some Scottish Shortbread as well!
I just love the look of these pretty biscuits, with their snow-white blanket of icing and the cute little red cherry or joob-joob sitting proudly on top. They bring back the best childhood memories.
where are empire biscuits from?
The Empire biscuit orginally came from Central Europe. They were very popular in Austria, where they were known as Linzer biscuits. However, Linzer biscuits usually contain a hefty amount of ground almonds, whereas the Empire biscuits that we know today are simply made with butter, sugar, flour and usually an egg to bind everything together.
When Empires were introduced to the UK, they were initially known as German biscuits. The outbreak of WW1 changed all this. The biscuits were patriotically renamed Empire biscuits!
other names for Empire biscuits
These jam filled treats have had many other names over the years – they are also called Imperial biscuits, double biscuits, Belgian biscuits, Deutsch biscuits and biscuit bun.
This is my husband’s recipe for Empire Biscuits. He spent many years working as a skilled baker and probably made thousands of batches during that time. We hope you enjoy the recipe as much as we do!
how to make empire biscuits
(please keep scrolling to the bottom of the post to find printable recipe card and detailed instructions)
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160Fan/350F. Grease and line a large baking tray with baking paper.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and creamy. You don’t need to incorporate lots of air into the mixture like when you make a cake – it just needs to be well combined and soft.
- I find it easier and quicker to use my stand mixer, but you could also use a hand held electric mixer or simply just a wooden spoon and a bowl.
- Add the egg and the flour and mix until you have a soft dough.
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out to a thickness of around 1/2 inch. You could go for a 1/4 inch if you prefer slightly thinner biscuits.
- Using a biscuit/cookie cutter, cut 28 shapes out of the dough. I use a 4 inch round fluted cutter, but if you don’t have a cutter a similar sized glass would also work just fine.
- Place the shapes on the lined baking tray (or trays) and if you have time, chill for about 30 minutes before baking. It’s not totally crucial, but it does help prevent the biscuits from spreading.
- Bake the biscuits for 12-15 minutes or until they are just beginning to colour around the edges. They will still be quite soft in the middle, so leave them on the baking tray for about 10 minutes to firm up before transferring to a cooling rack.
decorating the biscuits
- When the biscuits have cooled completely, sandwich them together with around a teaspoon of strawberry or raspberry jam.
- Make the icing by mixing together icing (powdered) sugar and water until you have a fairly thick icing that coats the back of a spoon. Be careful not to add too much water – if the icing is too runny, it will run off the biscuit.
- Dip the jam filled biscuits into the icing and place back on to the cooling rack. Top with a glace cherry or sweet or your choosing. Allow the icing to set before enjoying!
tips for recipe success
- This biscuit dough is quite soft, so it’s better to chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before cutting out and baking the biscuits – this makes them less likely to spread out in the oven.
- You could make smaller empires if you wanted to – just use whatever size of round cutter you have but do bear in mind that you will have to adjust the baking time if you make smaller/larger biscuits.
- Keep a good eye on the biscuits while they are baking – if they are very golden/starting to go brown, you’ve left them in for too long!
- Make sure the butter is nice and soft – if it’s too hard the mixture won’t cream properly and you’ll never achieve the right consistency. And above all else, PLEASE use real butter!
- Use your favourite strawberry or raspberry jam for the filling. You’ll need approximately 1 teaspoon jam for each biscuit.
- It’s important to get the correct consistency for the icing – too thick and it won’t spread, too thin and it will run down the sides of the biscuits.
- When making up the icing, add the water little by little until you have an icing that is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon without dripping off. If you think you’ve added too much water, add more icing (powdered) sugar.
Fancy trying a giant empire biscuit?
I also have a recipe for a giant empire biscuit – it’s a different recipe because I wasn’t very successful making a huge version of this one for some reason! It’s well worth a try!
want to see more scottish recipes?
If you’re interested in seeing some more Scottish recipes, I have lots of inspiration – check out my posts for Scottish Cranahan, Dundee Cake, Treacle Scones and drop scones (Scottish pancakes).
If you’re interested in savoury Scottish recipes, take a look at my posts for Scottish Steak Pie, Mince and Tatties, haggis neeps and tatties Pie, tattie Soup, vegetable Scotch Broth and Cullen Skink.
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Did you make this recipe?
I hope you enjoyed it! Leave a comment and let me know how you got on or if you need any help with the recipe, please ask and I’ll do my best to help. If you would rate the recipe by clicking on the stars in the recipe card, I would really appreciate it.
- 225g soft salted Butter (not margarine)
- 350g plain (all purpose) flour
- 125g Caster Sugar
- 1 room temperature medium egg, beaten
For the Icing
- 200g icing Sugar
- 2 teaspoons water (you might need slightly more)
- Strawberry or raspberry Jam for sandwiching the biscuits together
- 7 glace cherries or Jelly Tots for decoration
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160Fan/350F/Gas mark 4. Grease and line two large baking trays.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy, then gradually add the beaten egg. Gradually mix in the flour until you have a soft, pliable dough. I use my mixer as it makes life easier, but it can be done by hand - it just takes a bit of muscle work! Take care not to overmix the dough. If you have time, wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes - this will prevent the biscuits from spreading in the oven.
- Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface and very lightly give it a few turns to bring together. Roll out the dough (about 1/2 inch thick) and cut out 28 biscuits using a round fluted 4 inch cutter. You can use a smaller cutter if you prefer - but bear in mind the biscuits won't take quite as long to bake, obviously.
- Place the rounds of dough on the lined baking trays and bake for 12-15 mins or until tinted very pale golden around the sides and bottom. Leave on the tray for 5 minutes, then using a palette knife transfer the biscuits to a wire rack and leave them to cool completely.
- When the biscuits are cold, spread with a thin layer of the jam and place another biscuit on top. Mix the icing sugar with a few drops of water - what you're looking for is a thick icing that will coat the biscuits nicely and won't drip down the sides.
- Carefully dip a biscuit into the bowl of icing and scrape off the excess icing with your finger. Place back on the wire rack, top with a jelly tot, cherry or sweetie of your choice and leave to set.
If you like, you can add 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract to the dough.
I use salted butter in biscuits because I prefer the flavour, but you can use unsalted if you like. If you do, I would recommend adding 1/4 tsp of salt to the dough.
This recipe makes 14 large Empire biscuits
Nutrition Information:Yield: 14 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 285Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 139mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 0gSugar: 32gProtein: 1g
Calories and nutritional information are provided by a third party application and should be viewed as indicative figures only.
I’ve had these on my ‘to bake’ list for a while – yours have come out so pretty that I’m hoping it will stir me into action to actually make them!
I can’t wait to see yours, you’ll make amazing empires!
I have to be honest I have never heard ion or indeed tried an Empire biscuit before.However, yours look delicious and I would love to try one because whats not to like? I love the idea of having a jelly tot sat on top for decoration. thank you for sharing with the GBBO bake along xx
You’re very welcome Jenny 🙂 They really are delicious – a lovely treat! Thank you xx
They do look a bit retro, and that’s a big part of their charm I would say. Love the icing on top, it’s perfect.
I’ve had these on my bake list since you first blogged them, so when your updated blog post came through they had to be made. They were delicious and a big hit. I won’t be waiting so long to make them again. Thankyou.
I’m so glad you enjoyed them Wendy, that makes me very happy to hear! Thanks for making them ?
Thank you Anca ? They really are fun to make!
These look like the biscuits my Nan used to make
I’ve never heard of these biscuits but they do sound delicious.
You’ve made a brilliant job of recreating the Empire Biscuit! The baker’s ones are not my favourite but homemade is a whole different biscuit.
My mouth is just watering! Haven’t has a jam filled cookie in a long time. Love how simple and tempting the cookies look.
i’ve never heard of empire biscuits before but they do look fab! #gbbobloggers2018
I’ve clearly been living under a rock because I’ve never heard of Empire Biscuits. They look so tasty!
My Nan used to make them too!
I absolutely agree with you Janice – I’ve tried many Empire biscuits from various bakers’ and let’s just say they weren’t that great! They are so much better homemade. Thank you!
Thank you! The jam really makes a difference. My husband thinks I put too much jam in them, but I disagree!!
Thank you Rebecca! ?
Thanks Cat! They are sold in bakeries all over Scotland (and Ireland apparently) But like many other things, they are so much better homemade ?
Used to be in all the bakers in Scotland. I have made one recipe I got in a cookery book which turned out great but going to make these and then will rate them. I put either a Jelly Tot on top or a Cadbury Chocolate Button…
Thanks, hope you enjoy them!
Keep coming back to these biscuits! So lovely, thanks!
You’re so very welcome, Helen! I’m delighted you enjoy them!
Made a couple versions of these with different recipes – one clearly has a mistake in quantity of butter so can’t be rolled, the other makes hard and rather flavourless biscuits. Yours are far and away the best – lovely buttery biscuits! I now make slightly smaller, thinner biscuits so there are more of them. Thank you!
PS I had no idea they were a Scottish thing. I’m Scottish and grew up eating them. ?
I’m so pleased the recipe was a success for you Olwen! Thanks for the great feedback 🙂
I ate these as a child in N. Ireland although I knew them as German biscuits, not Empire biscuits.
The recipe is great, especially with the vanilla added, really makes a difference. Just wondering, should I put them in the fridge to help the icing harden?
Hi Marty, I’m really pleased you like the recipe! You can by all means put them in the fridge if you like, but you shouldn’t have to – the icing usually sets after an hour or so. If your kitchen is very hot, it might take a bit longer. Thanks for your comment!
Made these for my Scottish flatmates – big hit, they disappeared in an instant! Thank you! 😀
That makes me so happy! I’m so pleased you all enjoyed them!
Hi, what size cutter did you use ?? Many thanks , Steven
Hi Steven, I use a 4 inch cutter.
Delicious Nickki, far better than bought empire biscuits, 5 out of 5 ???
that’s brilliant Steven, I’m so pleased you liked them! Thanks for letting me know!
Thanks so much for this lovely recipe! Have just made a batch – heart-shaped for my son’s valentine’s bake sale tomorrow… They look and taste fantastic!x
Aww that’s brilliant Aileen – thanks so much for letting me know!
I’m sure they will go down a storm at the bake sale ?
I’ve just made these and got 14 biscuits, but when I sandwich them together there will only be 7 empire biscuits. I did cut them out at 1/2″ thick, is this correct
Hi Joyce, what size was your cutter? The recipe should make 7 empires.
Can’t wait to try these as I do love an empire biscuit now & again & been promising my son for years that I’d make him a batch…
Can I ask what butter you used? I normally use Flora light or stork.
Hi Debbie, I use block butter like Lurpack or Anchor, but any Supermarket brand is fine too.
Made these yesterday, haven’t made them for years and this recipe is the best yet. I managed to get a yield of 12, lasted in cake tin for about 5 hours before they were all gone!!
I’m so pleased to hear the Empire biscuits went down well! they never last very long here either 🙂
Made these twice in two days. My family can’t get enough!!!! Thanks for sharing!! ?x
I’m so pleased you like them!
Absolutely delicious, fab recipe, easy and fun to make too. My first introduction to Empire Biscuits – Thank you!