Quick and easy to make, homemade biscuits and cookies are always a firm favourite with all the family. Whether you are making them for a sweet office treat, afternoon tea or a children’s birthday party, they will always be polished off in no time. Mixing the ingredients together is a simple task after which it is just a matter of rolling out and chilling the dough. Once you have a rich biscuit dough you can transform it into all sorts of wonderfully tasty biscuits.
If you have a treasure trove of cookie cutters you can make heart shaped and animal biscuits.
Novelty biscuits decorated with colourful icings and outlines are the next level if you are looking for a new hobby and fancy some serious biscuiteering.
Biscuits like jammy dodgers are simple to bake and have a solid fan base due to their popularity as a nostalgic childhood treat.
Assembling them is the fun part, sandwiching two biscuits together with a delicious jam centre peeping through an opening in the top. Traditionally a love-heart cutter would be used to create the centre, but star shaped cutters are often easier to find in shops. Both raspberry or strawberry jam work equally well for the filling. To avoid the biscuits going soggy once the jam is added, assemble them just before you want to serve.
Baking the cookies until golden is an important step, as undercooked biscuits will also get soggy. If you don’t have cookie cutters, you can improvise with the rim of a teacup or wine glass. For the centres, use any 2cm wide round object or make a cardboard stencil and cut around the outline with a sharp knife. After this enjoyable ‘make and do’ activity (which anyone can join in on), the reward is a bunch of pretty biscuits. I promise, these jammy dodgers won’t last long.
Jammy dodger biscuits
150g butter, softened
150g icing sugar (or caster sugar)
1 egg yolk, lightly whisked
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
100g good quality jam (raspberry or strawberry)
to serve: icing sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C fan. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. You will also need a medium cookie cutter (approx 5cm) and a smaller cookie cutter (star or heart shape) or any small round object.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add in the egg yolk and vanilla extract.
3. Sift in the flour in two batches, using a wooden spoon or spatula to stir until the flour has been fully incorporated. The dough will come together to form a soft dough. Form into a shallow patty and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for 15 mins.
4. Cut the dough into four pieces and roll each out onto a floured surface to a thickness of 3mm. Using a medium cookie cutter, dip it in flour, then stamp out an even number of cookie rounds (if the dough is very soft as you work with it, keep it chilled). Transfer half the rounds on to the first lined baking sheet for the bases (leave space between each). Use the smaller cutter to stamp out stars (or holes) in the centres of the remaining rounds for the tops. Transfer them onto the second lined sheet.
5. Chill the cookies in the fridge for 15 minutes before baking to reduce spreading (or place them in the freezer for 5 minutes if you have space).
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until the biscuits are golden in colour (place the tray with the bases on the higher rack).
7. Once baked, remove from the oven and leave for two minutes before lifting them with a palette knife and allowing them to cool fully on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container until ready to assemble.
8. To assemble, spread a teaspoon of jam onto the bases. Dust the biscuit tops with icing sugar and sandwich on to the jammy covered bases. Fill the centres with an extra blob of any remaining jam.
Add redcurrants, lemon zest or ginger into the basic biscuit dough to create lots of different cookies. The simplest trick of all is to cover them with melted chocolate – who doesn't love a chocolate covered biscuit?