These are my all time favourite biscuit. They are lovely and buttery and really versatile. I can vary the flavourings to suit the occasion. I've left out the vanilla extract and added grated lemon zest and iced them with lemon glace icing and they were devoured in record time by my afternoon tea guests. I've added chocolate chips and even sugar sprinkles to the dough and it works well every time. There’s always some of this dough in my freezer. The dough freezes really well and can also be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.
250g softened butter
140g sifted icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large free range egg yolk
375g sifted plain flour - Sometimes I add 25g of sifted cocoa powder and 350g flour for a chocolate version.
Best the butter and icing sugar together until very pale and fluffy. I add the icing sugar slowly and start the beaters on their lowest speed setting so that I don't get that cloud of icing sugar rising up from the bowl and going everywhere.
Add the vanilla extract and egg yolk and beat in well. Gently sift in the flour and mix it until it forms a firm dough. I quite often do this by hand as it doesn’t take long, my daughters like to help with this bit too. If you ultimately want to cut shapes out of the dough work the dough into a smooth ball and then put it in the fridge for an hour to rest. If you just want round biscuits that you can join together with icing, form the dough into a long sausage slightly smaller than the size you want the biscuits to end up, wrap the dough thoroughly in cling film and then either freeze or refrigerate the dough for an hour or so until you are ready to use it.
When you're ready to use the dough, take it out of the fridge and preheat your oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.
If you want to cut shapes out of the dough, remove it from the fridge and roll it out to about 3mm thick then cut out the shapes you want using a cutter. Put the shapes, or the round biscuits on to baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper. If you want round biscuits then cut 5mm slices from the long sausage of dough.
Bake the cut out shapes or rounds for 10 - 12 minutes at 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5. Remove from the oven and carefully transfer the biscuits to a wire rack where they will harden as they cool.
You can ice the biscuits any way you like, or sandwich them together with some ganache or buttercream.