Shrewsbury biscuits (also called Shrewsbury cakes or cookies) are classic British butter cookies. This recipe has a totally unique flavor profile because of some of its ingredients: caraway seeds, mace, and lemon.
I originally baked Shrewsbury biscuits in preparation for the Downton Abbey 4th season premiere in the U.S. I was looking for an interesting British dessert recipe and this one fit the bill. I also created sticky toffee pudding cupcakes for the occasion.
My recipe for Shrewsbury biscuits is an adaptation of a recipe from the captivating site, The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies, which explores recipes from a book of the same name; that book is “a manuscript recipe book in the collections of Westminster City Archives. The recipes, recorded in several different hands, span 150 years of British cookery, providing a fascinating insight into culinary craft of the Georgian and Regency periods.” I also used a post on Shrewsbury biscuits from Mouthful of Paradise as inspiration.
This recipe requires basic pantry ingredients but also uses a few spices and ingredients that you may not have sitting around.
Caraway seeds – Though it’s a main ingredient in rye bread, caraway works amazingly well in this recipe. It gives the cookies a bit of an anise flavor. I urge you to include caraway seeds (typically available at the grocery store and always available online [paid link]) as they are what separates these cookies from the butter cookie masses.
Mace – Mace is extremely similar to nutmeg (it even comes from the same plant). However, mace has a stronger, more peppery taste. You could make these cookies with nutmeg, but I strongly recommend baking them with mace. Buy it at the grocery store or online [paid link].
Lemon zest – There is just enough zest in the recipe to brighten up the flavor without making the Shrewsbury biscuits taste like lemon cookies. I’ve written a whole post about properly zesting lemons, and I encourage you to read it if you want to learn the best way to do it.
How It’s Made
Preheat your oven to 325 F.
Mix together flour and butter in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
Add in caraway seeds, mace, lemon zest, and powdered sugar and mix together.
Mix in the egg.
Form balls of dough about 3 tablespoons big and place onto a cookie sheet about three inches apart.
Flatten the tops of the dough balls and run a fork across them to create a bit of texture.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges of the Shrewsbury cookies just start to brown, then remove and cool on a cooling rack.
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon mace
- zest of 1 small lemon
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 large egg
- Preheat oven to 325 F.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix flour and butter.
- Mix in caraway seeds, mace, lemon zest, and powdered sugar.
- Mix in egg.
- Place balls of dough (about 3 tablespoons for a large cookie) onto a cookie sheet about three inches apart.
- Flatten the tops of the balls and run a fork across them to create some texture on top of the cookies.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until edges of the cookies just begin to brown.
- Cool on a cooling rack.
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