Vegan Empire Biscuits have been a popular teatime treat within the UK for over 100 years.
Although traditionally, Empire biscuits would have been prepared with butter if available.
This is a popular biscuit with many names!
In Scotland, these yummy treats are often called Belgium biscuits.
In England, they are generally named Empire biscuits.
Although, before those two names, Empire biscuits were originally termed German biscuits! And in Northern Ireland they are still known as German biscuits.
It is all to do with World War 1 (1914-1918). The British people were uncomfortable with having a biscuit that highlighted Germany seeing as they were the enemy!
Therefore, the name was changed to Empire biscuit.
However, in Scotland, when Belgium was invaded by the Germans they somehow decided the name Belgium biscuits was more fitting.
Whatever you call them Empire biscuits are basically shortbread biscuits sandwiched with jam, topped with water icing, and finished off with a halved cherry.
And, most importantly Empire biscuits are super easy to prepare, quick to bake, and even faster to disappear off the plate!
Enjoy with a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate, for a comforting, holiday treat.
Traditional Vegan Empire Biscuits
- Baking tray
- Circle biscuit cutter, I used a 3 inch cutter but depending on the size of biscuit you'd like a smaller or larger cutter can be used.
- 340 grams self-raising flour
- 226 grams plant-based margarine
- 113 grams icing/powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla essence/extract optional, but very tasty and highly recommended.
- For the Icing:
- 110 grams sieved icing/powdered sugar, plus about 2 tsp water to mix
- 4 whole glace cherries, halved optional, use sprinkles or desiccated coconut instead of cherries
- 8 heaped teaspoons of your choice of jam Strawberry or raspberry jam is particularly delicious, or even use a vegan-friendly chocolate spread. I sandwiched a few of my Empire biscuits with chocolate spread as my son prefers them that way.
- Preheat oven to 140 Fan/ 325 Fahrenheit/160 Celsius/Gas 3.
- Prepare a baking tray with some parchment paper. If your tray is non-stick you may not need the additional paper.
- Mix the plant-based margarine and icing sugar together until nice and creamy.
- Whip in the vanilla essence until incorporated well with sugar mix.
- Add the flour and mix into a dough.
- Work the dough together to a smooth ball. You may have to flour your hands if the dough is a little sticky.
- On a floured surface, roll out the dough to roughly 1/4 an inch thick. Stamp out biscuit rounds and lay on baking tray.
- Bake for about 25 or 30 minutes until starting to go golden.Baking time depends on your oven. I baked for 25 minutes with a fan oven.The biscuits will harden up as they cool down. If you'd like to eat the biscuits without sandwiching and more as a shortbread, then while still warm, sprinkle or dip the biscuits into caster sugar.
- Prepare the water icing. Mix the icing with a tsp of water, and add another if needed, to get a thick but spreadable, slightly runny consistency. Don't add too much water to the icing at the beginning as it can easily become too runny and then require more icing sugar to be added to thicken it up.When biscuits are cool, spread about a tsp of jam onto the inside of a biscuit and use another biscuit to sandwich.Add a little dollop of icing to the top and smooth out into a circular shape.Finish with a halved glace cherry, or sprinkle with some vegan-friendly sprinkles.
- Biscuits are ready after the icing has set.If you want to eat these delicious biscuits sooner, then place some into the refrigerator to set faster. Empire biscuits will keep for 3-4 days, stored at room temperature, but not too warm, in a tightly covered container. I have also stored in my refrigerator, in a container lined with some kitchen foil, and they have been perfectly fresh after a few days.
These Empire Biscuits can also be simply served, un-sandwiched as a Vegan Shortbread Biscuit.
Just sprinkle with some caster sugar as they cool on the baking tray.
Or place some caster sugar in a little bowl and place the warm biscuit in so that it covers the top. Leave to cool and harden on a tray or wire rack.
Looking for more yummy treats?
Check out this traditional WW2 Vegan Christmas Pudding.
Each bite is a piece of living history! Not to mention absolutely delicious, and stuffed full of everyday, nutritious ingredients:
Or how about a slice of this Gluten-Free, Vegan, Chocolate Cake? Perfect for Holiday Celebrations. It’s free from gluten, egg and milk but nobody will be able to taste the difference!
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Traditional Vegan Empire Biscuits