Fun to make at the weekend: old-school classic biscuits like jammie dodgers and bourbon creams. Photograph: Jill Mead for the GuardianOld-school biscuits are hard to beat - unless, that is, you've made them yourself. These twists on two all-time favourites - the jammie dodger and the bourbon cream - make teatime treats so good you'll have a hard time not scoffing the lot.I would love to be able to tell you that these biscuits evoke nostalgic memories of erstwhile days. However, I would be lying; I eat far too many of these family favourites for them to be anything but a vivid memory. They’ve been around for as long as I can remember, nestled within a big red box next to those impossible-to-make and even more impossible-to-resist pink wafers.
Granted, some things are best left to the magicians at biscuit kingdom HQ. However, a few of the old-school classics can be improved with a little kitchen tinkering to bring them up to date. I am hopeful that the few simple efforts that go into making these biscuits will prevent you from scoffing the lot before offering them to others – which so often happens with a packet of their shop-bought counterparts!
Cornflour and ground almonds create a rich, crumbly texture, while lemon zest balances out the sweetness of the jam – choose your favourite flavour for a tailor-made dodger. Perfectly partnered with a hot cuppa.
Makes about 15
150g butter, softened
85g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
Zest of 1 lemon
150g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g ground almonds
125g jam (such as seedless raspberry)
1 Beat the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until really pale and fluffy. Stir in the lemon zest.
2 Add the flour, ground almonds and cornflour, then beat until the mixture is combined – there should be no visible signs of flour. Bring the biscuit dough together with your hands into a ball, knead briefly, then wrap in clingfilm and chill for 15 minutes.
3 Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of about 5mm. Use a 6cm round cutter to make around 30 circles of dough. Use a 2cm cutter (a bottle top works perfectly here) to stamp out a hole in the centre of half of the biscuits – these will become the tops of your dodgers. Re-roll any offcuts and repeat the stamping out process to make more biscuits.
4 Transfer to a couple of lined baking sheets – I find it helpful to keep the tops and bottoms separate – and place in the fridge for a further 15 minutes.
5 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Transfer your biscuits to the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until pale golden and sandy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the tray.
6 Once cool, put a scant teaspoon of jam on to the full biscuit bases. Spread the jam out with the back of the spoon in an even layer – don’t go right to the edge or you with end up losing jam when you sandwich with the top half. Pop the biscuits with the holes on top and sprinkle a little more sugar over the exposed jam. Serve immediately.
I have added ground and stem ginger to these biscuit sandwiches for a more grown-up flavour, but feel free to leave it out if you are a traditionalist. The joy of a bourbon is prising the two halves apart, quickly gobbling the un-iced half then savouring the creamy remainder – I have been intentionally heavy-handed with the buttercream filling as it’s the best bit.
Makes about 12
125g butter, softened
75g soft light brown sugar
75g caster sugar
11/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 medium egg
175g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g cocoa powder
For the filling
75g plain chocolate, roughly chopped
25g soft brown sugar
75g icing sugar
2 balls stem ginger in syrup, drained and finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger syrup from the jar
1 Put the butter, sugars, ground ginger, vanilla and egg into a mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon to beat the ingredients together until fully combined.
2 Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a separate bowl, then gradually add to the wet ingredients, beating as you go until no lumps of butter and sugar mixture remain. You will end up with a slightly sticky yet firm dough. Bring it together with your hands, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
3 Line a couple of baking sheets with baking paper and preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Remove the biscuit dough from the fridge, then roll out on a well-floured work surface to a thickness of 5mm. Use a ruler to measure out a 30cm x 20cm rectangle. Trim to size and set aside the offcuts to be re-rolled later.
4 Divide the dough into 5 rectangles horizontally and 4 vertically. Use a palette knife to transfer half of the biscuits to the lined trays, leaving around 2cm between each to allow for spreading. Roll up any offcuts and shape roughly to the same size and shape. Use a cocktail stick to make a pattern around the edge of half of the biscuits. These will become the tops of your biscuits. Return to the fridge for 15 minutes.
5 Transfer the biscuits to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until sandy in texture – the biscuits will look remarkably like shop-bought bourbons. Allow them to cool completely on the tray.
6 Meanwhile, make the filling. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Beat the butter, brown sugar and icing sugar together until smooth, then fold in the melted chocolate, chopped ginger and ginger syrup. Stir to combine, then leave at room temperature.
7 To build your bourbon creams, spread the filling over the bottom half of the biscuits and sandwich with the patterned tops. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes before eating.
- Rosie Reynolds is a food stylist, recipe writer and regular Cook contributor. Ruby Tandoh returns next week