Easter biscuits are butter cookies speckled with currants and lightly spiced using mixed spice, a traditional English and Irish baking spice blend.
Making these biscuits or cookies at Easter time is an old British tradtion, and today I'll share my favorite recipe for these sweet treats.
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An Old English Tradition
The tradition of baking Easter biscuits originated in the West Country region of England.
Some original recipes from Somerset use cassia oil in the dough, since it was believed that this oil was used to clean and embalm Christ's body after His crucifixion.
Cassia oil added a slight hint of warm spices to the dough. Rather than using this unusual oil, my tweaked recipe calls for a specialty baking spice blend known as mixed spice.
These cookies or biscuits are made with dried fruit, usually currants, and make a nice change from chocolate sweet treats at this time of year, when our sweet tooth knows no bounds.
In the British Isles cookies are called biscuits, and American biscuits are called scones.
Here's my recipe for this old fashioned Easter bake.
Ingredients for Easter Biscuits
Here's a list of what you'll need for this traditional English recipe for Easter. You'll find exact quantities in the recipe card at the end of this post, where you can choose between US and Metric versions. You'll also find the nutritional information for these sweet treats.
- white sugar
- egg beaten
- raisins or currants
- all-purpose plain flour
- mixed spice use pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon in the US
- egg white
- extra sugar for dusting
Ingredient Tips and Suggestions
In Ireland and England we use caster sugar for these cookies. This is a finer sugar than typical granulated sugar. In America the white cane sugar sold in most grocery stores is just as fine as caster sugar and works great for Irish and English baking.
The spice I use for this cookie dough is mixed spice. You can make your own using my recipe. If you prefer, pumpkin pie spice is somewhat similar and far easier to find in America.
Traditionally currants are used for this recipe. These cookies were made to enjoy after Lent when people could return to a little luxury in their diet after weeks of austerity. Dried fruits were considered a special treat.
Currants are difficult to find in America, so raisins work great instead. Previously we explored why blackcurrants are not grown extensively in America. I recommend using regular raisins rather than golden raisins (called sultanas in Ireland).
Some recipes used mixed candied peel for these Easter cookies, but I prefer to stick to just raisins.
Other variations include adding a little vanilla extract, orange zest or lemon zest, but these are not traditional ingredients.
Directions for Easter Biscuits
Here you'll find step-by-step photographic instructions for this recipe. You'll find a recipe card at the end of this post if you would like to save and print this Easter recipe.
Prepare the baking trays and oven
First switch the oven on, so that it is nicely preheated to 350° F (180° C) when you're ready to pop these cookies in the oven.
Prepare two baking trays or cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper.
Pop the room temperature butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric stand mixer. You can also use a large mixing bowl and a hand held beater.
Make the cookie dough
In years gone by the butter and sugar would have been creamed together using a wooden spoon. Electric beaters have made our lives so much easier.
Beat the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy.
Beat the egg in a small bowl.
Add it with the milk to the butter and sugar in the mixing bowl and beat to combine.
Next add the raisins or currants to the batter and combine completely.
Now it's time to add the dry ingredients and form the dough.
Sift the flour and spices together in a separate bowl.
Add to the flour mixture gradually mixing on low speed to form a firm dough.
If the batter is too loose and does not form a dough, add a little extra flour.
The exact amount of flour required depends on the humidity of your kitchen and the altitude where you're cooking.
You can gather the dough and cover it with cling film (plastic wrap) and chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling.
If I am in a rush I skip this step, and I find these biscuits turn out fine.
Roll and cut the dough
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.
Knead the dough with floured fingers until it's nice and smooth.
If you wish you can divide the dough in two and roll each piece separately. If your work surface is large roll all the dough in one go.
Roll out the dough to a thickness of ¼ inch.
Use a 2-inch cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out 24 cookies. Knead and reroll the dough scraps to use all of the dough.
A circular cutter is traditionally used for these biscuits, but with all the different choices of holiday themed cutters available today, feel free to get creative with your biscuit shapes.
Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Do not turn off the oven.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven.
Brush the cookies with beaten egg white.
Sprinkle with additional white sugar. Regular white or caster sugar is used for this dusting rather than confectioners or icing sugar.
Return to the oven for 3 to 5 minutes until turning golden brown. Be sure to rotate trays when you return them to the oven.
Remove the baking tray from the oven and allow the cookies to cool slightly for about 5 minutes while sitting in the baking tray.
Next transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe Card for Easter Biscuits
Here's the printable recipe card.
- 2 Baking Sheets (line the cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner)
- 6 ounces butter 1½ sticks
- ¾ cup white sugar
- 1 large egg beaten
- 2 tablespoons milk
- ¾ cup raisins
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice use pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon in the US
For the Glaze
- 1 large egg white beaten
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream together until pale and fluffy.
- Gradually beat in the egg and milk.
- Add the raisins and combine completely. Sift the flour and spice together. Add to the mixture gradually mixing on low speed to form a firm dough.
- Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth. Roll out to a thickness of ¼ inch.
- Use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut out 24 cookies. Knead and reroll the dough scraps to use all of the dough. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Do not turn off the oven.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Brush the cookies with the beaten egg white. Sprinkle with sugar and return to the oven for 3 to 5 minutes until turning golden.
- Transfer to wire racks when baked and allow to cool before serving.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
I hope you enjoy this traditional Easter biscuit recipe and British baking specialty.
In years gone by these Easter time biscuits were given as gifts on Easter Sunday in many parts of England.
Do you have a favorite Easter treat? Let us know in the comment section below.
If you're looking for some other sweet treats for Easter, here are some fun ideas.
Happy Easter baking.
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade