Donna Hay’s spiced vanilla biscuits

Serve these spiced vanilla biscuits with a cup of tea or coffee, or as a special addition to a lunchbox.

From Modern Baking by Donna Hay


125g unsalted butter, softened
135g light brown sugar
1 medium egg
90g honey
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
335g plain flour, sifted
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda, sifted
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice
1½ tsp ground ginger
2 vanilla beans (pods), sliced lengthways into quarters
320g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 160C/gas 2½. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high speed for 6-8 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the egg, honey and vanilla bean paste and beat until smooth. Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, allspice and ginger and beat until just combined. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Line two large baking trays with nonstick baking paper. Roll 1-tablespoon portions of the dough into balls. Place on the trays, allowing room to spread. Bake for 16 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool completely on the trays.
3. Line a small baking tray with nonstick baking paper. Place the vanilla beans (pods) on the tray and bake for 15 minutes or until dry and crisp. Allow to cool. Place in a small food processor and process until fine.
4. Place the icing sugar and water in a bowl and mix until smooth. Dip the biscuits in the icing, place on a wire rack set above a tray and immediately sprinkle with the ground vanilla. Allow to set before serving.

TIP Keep these biscuits in an airtight container for up to one week.

Modern Baking by Donna Hay will be published by Fourth Estate on 18 October, price £30. To pre-order a copy for £24 (a 20 per cent discount) until 21 October, visit, or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15. Donna’s TV series Basics to Brilliance Kids continues on UKTV until 26 October; to be followed by Basics to Brilliance later in the year. To mark the publication of Modern Baking, she will be in London at the end of October for events at Fortnum & Mason ( for details) and The Soho Hotel ( for details). And you can catch Donna on BBC Saturday Kitchen on 3 November.