German Biscuits

German Biscuits, also known as Empire Biscuits, Belgian Biscuits and, originally (according to Wikipedia) Linzer Biscuits or Deutsch Biscuits.

In the brief history of the German Biscuit that I gleaned from my research, it turns out that around the time of WWI, many people started to call these Empire Biscuits. But in Northern Ireland, they continued to be called German Biscuits.

Whatever you choose to call it, this is a simple shortbread biscuit, sandwiched with jam, covered with water icing and topped with a glacé cherry.

These are relatively easy to make. Although I will warn you that the dough is pretty crumbly and takes quite a bit of reshaping and re-rolling. But stick with it. The resulting shortbread is light, tasty and (unsurprisingly) crumbly. I have made these with both a chilled dough and one where I went straight to rolling it out. And it worked in both situations. If you feel the dough is too soft to work with, then certainly put it in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to firm up.  

I used a 2½in/58mm fluted cutter and got 24 single biscuits from the dough. I’d also recommend using a palette knife or bench scraper to help lift the biscuits off your work surface and transfer onto the baking sheet.

I needed 4 tsp water to make my icing. You may need more or less, just add a little at a time. What you want to achieve is icing that is thin enough to spread easily but thick enough not to drip off the edges of the biscuits.

Traditionally, German Biscuits are topped with a piece of glacé cherry. But I topped some of mine with sprinkles, because, well, everything’s better with sprinkles. And I knew that Little Miss Traybakes would like them.  She’s a big fan of rainbow sprinkles.

German Biscuits

A classic Northern Irish biscuit. German Biscuits are a shortbread sandwich cookie, with jam and topped with icing and a glacé cherry.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Course Dessert, Snack
Servings 12 cookies


For the biscuits

  • 4 oz or 110g butter, softened
  • 2 oz or 30g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 6 oz or 175g plain flour (all-purpose flour)

For the topping and filling

  • 8 oz or 225g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 3-4 tsp water
  • raspberry jam
  • glacé/candied cherries, halved


  • Preheat the oven to 325F/160C.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Mix in the sieved flour until it all comes together. It will still be somewhat crumbly. You can put it in the fridge, for 30 minutes or so, at this stage to firm up the dough.
  • Roll out the dough, as best you can, on a floured work surface to about ¼ inch/½ cm thick. Cut into rounds and place on a lined baking sheet.
  • Bake in a preheated 325F/160C oven for 10-12 minutes. Leave to cool briefly on the trays before transferring to a wire rack.
  • Make the icing by mixing the icing sugar with 3-4 teaspoons of water until you get a spreadable consistency.
  • After the biscuits have cooled, sandwich two of the biscuits together using approximately 1 tsp of jam and then cover with icing.
  • Top with a piece of cherry (or with sprinkles) and set aside for the icing to harden. Enjoy!


Keyword cookies, jam, shortbread