Firstly - wow, a recipe that's not from Donna Hay!
Secondly - I feel like a bit of a traitor calling these sugar cookies because we don't have cookies here in Australia but I'm not sure what the Australian equivalent is. I'm not even sure if there is one, sugar biscuits just sounds wrong.
I'm in a weird place when it comes to calling biscuits cookies, I'm reading far too many American blogs and cooking books that the word "cookie" is slipping into my every day vocabulary. It just pops out from time to time, for no apparent reason. Cookies and biscuits are decidedly different things yet what I would ordinarily call biscuits are readily becoming cookies. I try to correct myself from time to time but, honestly, what's the point? It's amazing to watch my language change right before my eyes (or ears?)
Anyway, what these are called isn't all that important. What is important is the taste of things and these biscuits are delicious. They're incredibly buttery and light. They're actually lighter than my usual biscuits so they do have a tendency to crumble if treated roughly.
The filling of jam adds extra dimension and texture to biscuit. I'm not really a fan of plain ol' iced sugar cookies but the center of jam makes them quite delicious. I'm not a fan of overly sweet jams, so I chose one made with grape juice rather than glucose. The jam I chose isn't the prettiest raspberry jam I've ever seen but it is one of the tastiest.
Jam sandwiched sugar cookies
(adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking)
makes 15-25 biscuits depending on the size of your cutter
320g (2 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
150g (3/4 cup) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
225g (8 ounces) butter, cold and cut into 1 cm (1/2") pieces
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar, extra
Jam of choice
Icing of choice
Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl and beat on a low speed for 10 seconds. Add the butter and mix on low until the butter is broken into tiny pieces. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat until the mixture starts to form small clumps about the size of peas.
In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the butter mixture and blend on medium-low until the dough forms several large clumps. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead several times, to bring it together. Divide the dough in two and shape into a disk about 1cm thick (1/2"). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until cold but still pliable.
Place one disk between two sheets of baking paper and roll to 1/4cm (1/8") thick. If the dough cracks, it may be too cold. Let it sit for a couple of minutes to warm up and then try again. If you get wrinkles if your paper, peel it off, smooth them out, and continue to roll. Flip the dough over and check the other side.
Once the dough is rolled, place it on a baking tray and transfer to the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.
Remove the baking paper for both sides of one piece the rolled out dough and place on work surface. Line a baking tray with a new sheet of paper. Use cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes. For sandwich biscuits cut out the initial shape and then transfer half the biscuits to the baking tray spacing them about 4 cm (1 1/2") apart. Cut a hole in the remaining biscuits using a smaller cutter and remove the center. Transfer to baking trays. Repeat with remaining sheet of dough. Child the cut shapes while the oven preheats.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) and position an oven rack in the centre. Sprinkle the biscuits with the reserved 2 tablespoons of sugar just before they go in the oven. Bake on pan at a time, rotating the sheet halfway through if required, for 10-13 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining Sheet.
Once cooled, spread the solid biscuits with jam. Dust the cut out biscuits with icing sugar and carefully place them on the jam.