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Mix 250g softened butter and 140g caster sugar in a large bowl with a wooden spoon, then add 1 egg yolk and 2 tsp vanilla extract and briefly beat to combine. Sift over 300g plain flour and stir until the mixture is well combined – you might need to get your hands in at the end to give everything a really good mix and press the dough together.
Adapt this recipe
Read our ultimate biscuit guide to discover 10 ways of adapting this basic biscuit blueprint.
Little lemony fingers
Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Make the Basic biscuit dough, adding zest 2 lemons to the sugar and butter mixture. After chilling, roll out the dough to a rough rectangle, then use a pizza cutter or knife to divide the dough into long strips, about 10 x 2cm. Bake as above. For the icing, mix 140g sifted icing sugar with 4-5 tbsp lemon juice and the zest 1 lemon. When biscuits are cool, half dip them into the icing, then dry on a rack.
Crushed almond rounds
Prepare the Basic biscuit dough, substituting 2 tsp almond extract for the vanilla. Shape the dough into a large oval log, about 8-10cm in diameter, then roll in 100g finely chopped whole blanched almonds, pressing the nuts onto all sides. Carefully wrap in cling film, then chill or freeze. To cook, heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4, then slice off 1cm thick ovals with a sharp knife. Bake on a non-stick baking tray for 12 mins until pale gold, then transfer to a cooling rack to firm up.
Triple chocolate treats - American-style biscuits
Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Make a batch of Basic biscuit dough, substituting 50g cocoa powder for 50g plain flour. Add 85g white chocolate chunks and 85g milk chocolate chunks, then mix well. Scoop the mixture into 12 large balls onto a non-stick baking sheet. Space well apart, as they will spread. Flatten slightly, bake for 12-15 mins, then transfer the soft, warm cookies to a cooling rack to firm up.