Spice biscuits have a wonderfully warm and aromatic flavour from the combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves used in this recipe. These traditional cookies are known as 'outydse soetkoekies' in South Africa, meaning 'old fashioned sweet cookies'.
Don't let the simple title fool you though, they are packed with flavour and make the perfect tea-dunking biscuit. They are also great cookies to cut out with cookie cutters.
Another delicious South African biscuit recipe to try are these condensed milk cookies. Alternatively, try these ultimate chocolate chip cookies without brown sugar.
What's to love about this recipe
- This is a simple, easy biscuit recipe with big flavours
- Ideal to make with kids
- The perfect everyday dunking biscuit
- Can be left plain, or lavishly decorated with royal icing or printed edible wafer paper
- Makes a lovely gift
Key ingredient notes and substitutions
**Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients.
Flour - Plain all purpose flour.
Leavening agent - Baking powder.
The spices - We use ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and ground cloves. You can also add 0.5 teaspoon of ginger to warm up the flavour even more. Alternatively you can add a little more of each spice, or swap one for the other. As the recipe stands, 0.5 teaspoon of each spice gives a good balance that would be to most people's palate.
Butter - We use unsalted butter but you can also use salted. Leave out the 0.5 teaspoon salt if you are using salted butter. The butter needs to be at room temperature.
Top tip: To soften hard butter from the fridge, speed up the process by heating a glass bowl with an inch of water in the microwave, until the water boils. Throw the water out and turn the bowl upside down over the butter for a few minutes.
Sugar - You can use either granulated or castor sugar.
Vanilla extract - Adds a beautiful neutral flavour to compliment the warm spices.
Eggs - This recipe uses two eggs at room temperature.
Top tip: To quickly bring fridge cold eggs up to room temperature, place them in a bowl with hot water for about 10 minutes.
How to make the spice biscuits - Quick summary
- Sift together the dry ingredients.
- Beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Add the eggs and beat again.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold together until just mixed.
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and bring together with your hands. Wrap in clingfilm and let the dough rest for at least an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/356F/gas mark 4 and prepare a few baking sheets with baking paper or silicone baking mats.
- Roll the dough out to about 3-5mm and cut out shapes.
- Optional step: We like to place the cut out biscuits, on their baking sheets, in the fridge for 10 minutes. It helps the biscuits hold their shape better in the oven. This is particularly important if you have an intricate cookie shape.
- Bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes or until the tops are a light golden brown.
- Move them onto a cooling rack to cool down.
Suggestions for decoration
Traditionally these spice cookies are enjoyed plain, but you can spruce them up as follows:
Royal icing - You can cover the biscuits with a thin layer of royal icing in any colour of your choosing. For expert tips on how to decorate cookies, see this video by Wilton. See this link to Litteviews-Crafts on the best piping tips to use.
Edible printed wafer paper - This is what we used for the photo on this recipe.
What is it? Edible wafer, or 'rice paper' is made from potato starch. It simply dissolves on the tongue, unlike 'icing sheets' which are usually wrapped around cakes and more robust. Therefore, make sure you order 'edible printed wafer paper' and not 'icing sheets'.
To apply it to the biscuits, it's best practise to first cover the biscuit with a thin layer of white royal icing. Once the icing has dried, cut out shapes from the wafer paper and fix on top of the icing with an edible glue. Press down gently and let it dry.
There are stunning edible printed wafer papers out there. Have a look on Etsy or most of the large baking supply shops.
We have no affiliation with them, but we used CakeyBake in the UK for the blue and white prints on the biscuits shown on the photo.
The biscuits keep well for up to 3 months in a sealed airtight container, like a biscuit tin.
They freeze well if kept in an airtight container. To defrost, remove them from the freezer at least two hours before consuming. This makes it ideal for batch baking before the holidays.
Spice or spiced biscuits have a really, really long history and quite a few countries have their own traditional versions of. They are particularly prevalent in Europe, especially The Netherlands and Belgium.
More cookie recipes you might enjoy
Spice biscuits ('Soetkoekies')
- 420 grams plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 0.5 teaspoon salt - 2.5ml
- 0.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon - 2.5ml
- 0.5 teaspoon ground nutmeg - 2.5ml
- 0.5 teaspoon ground cloves - 2.5ml
- 225 grams butter - room temperature
- 160 grams sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs - room temperature
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and ground cloves
- In a separate bowl using a stand mixer, or an electric hand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and creamy
- Break the eggs into a small bowl and give them a quick whisk to break them up. Add the beaten eggs to the butter mixture and beat again until well combined
- Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients. Fold it together using a spoon or spatula, until just combined
- Tip the dough out onto a floured service and bring it together with your hands. Wrap in clingfilm and let the dough rest for at least an hour. Place the dough in the fridge if your kitchen is warm
- Preheat the oven to 180C/356F/gas mark 4
- Line a baking sheet with baking paper or a non-stick silicone baking mat. You may need several baking sheets depending on the size of your sheets
- After the dough has rested, roll it out on a floured surface, about 3-5mm thick. Use a cookie cutter, or a glass, to cut out shapes
- Space the biscuits out on the baking sheets with at least a 3cm gap between each.Optional step: We like to place the cut out biscuits, on their baking sheets, in the fridge for 10 minutes. It helps the biscuits hold their shape better in the oven. This is particularly important if you have an intricate cookie shape
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until the tops are a light golden brown
- Move the biscuits onto a cooling rack to cool down
- Traditionally spice biscuits are enjoyed plain. You can also ice them with a thin layer of royal icing, or cover the tops with edible, printed wafer paper (as shown in photo)
**Nutritional data disclaimer**
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is calculated by a third party and we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We try our best to give you the most accurate information, but we do not take responsibility for errors that may be present. Also, the nutritional value of the recipe may change depending on the exact brands and products used. We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalised advice on your dietary needs.
For food safety advice, including guidance on food allergies
Leave a Reply