With their crispy pastry outside and soft inside, Garibaldi biscuits are a much-loved tea time treat. Buttery dough encases soft currants (or raisins or sultanas), it’s pressed together and baked until golden.

I love a good fruity biscuit recipe like these homemade florentines or these ever-popular buttery sultana cookies.

A stack of 5 rectangular biscuits filled with fruit.

Why are they called Garibaldi Biscuits?

Named after an Italian general named Giuseppe Garibaldi (srce: Wikipedia), there isn’t a lot of information on the history of these biscuits. They were first created in the UK over 150 years ago and have since made their way around the world in different forms.

In Australia they’re sold as “Full O’fruit” and in New Zealand “Fruitli”, while the US had a version called “Golden Fruit”.

Loved the world over, you may have heard of Garibaldi biscuits referred to as squashed fly biscuits or flies graveyard. Had I known those names before I knew them as Garibaldi’s I probably wouldn’t have tried them though. Not the most appealing of names.

Never fear! There are no flies in these buttery, fruity cookies. The fruit middle is traditionally made with currants but are often made with raisins or sultanas too.

Ingredients

These cookies don’t have too many ingredients and most are pretty common.

Ingredients set out in glass bowls on a marble benchtop.
  • Flour: Just regular plain or all purpose is perfect for these.
  • Sugar: I like caster sugar for this one as it beats in easily and provides a nice coating for the top that gets all crispy but regular white granulated will work.
  • Currants: These are like miniature raisins. If you can’t get currants, raisins or sultanas will work too.
  • Liqueur: Traditionally you would use brandy to soak the dried fruit before making garibaldi biscuits, but any liqueur will really do the job. I like Frangelico because of it’s flavour and it’s one I always have on hand.
  • Salt: All sweet treats benefit by a little dash of salt to intensify the flavours and balance the sweetness.
  • Butter: This makes these cookies nice and buttery.
  • Cinnamon: Added to the sugar and dusted over the fruit and then over the top of the dough before baking.
  • Milk: Just enough to bring the dough together into a rollable dough.
  • Egg yolk: Mixed with a dash of water, this is brushed over the top of the dough to give it a golden look.

How to make garibaldi biscuits / squashed fly biscuits

These biscuits are so easy to make and fun since they’re quite different to your regular dough scooping style cookies.

A collage of 4 images showing the blending of ingredients to make dough.
  1. Start by soaking the fruit in liqueur for half an hour to help plump it up and soften it slightly (photo 1).
  2. Now combine the dry ingredients before adding grated (shredded) butter (photo 2). Blend that in with a pastry blender until it’s a bit like lumpy sand.
  3. Now add the milk (photo 3), to bring it into a clumping dough you can roll out (photo 4).
  4. Chill the dough for 30 minutes before proceeding.
  5. Cut the dough into two pieces and roll out the first one. Drain the currants, discarding the liquid and scatter them evenly over the rolled dough.
A 4 image collage showing steps of assembling ingredients for garibaldi biscuits.
  1. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the currants (photo 5).
  2. Top with the second layer of rolled out dough and press it down with your hands all over (photo 6).
  3. Brush the top with egg wash, then sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar (photo 7). Bake.
  4. When they come out of the oven, immediately slice them into rectangles – without moving them around  (photo 8). Let them cool completely to crisp up.

Tips and tricks for perfect garibaldi biscuits

  • Only gently blend the flour and butter until the butter is in tiny but still visible pieces. These pieces release steam while baking and make the dough layers lighter and flakier.
  • Adding milk: Only add as much as you need. Different brands of flour will absorb different amounts of liquid so start with the 1 ½ tablespoons of milk listed in the recipe and add another ½ tablespoon only if you need it.
  • Always weigh your ingredients for best results. A cup measure can be filled many different ways and as a result can have varying quantities of flour. Too much flour equals a dry cookie.
A white board with rectangle biscuits laid out in a line. Currants in the background.

Substitions / variations

One of the things I love about this garibaldi biscuits recipe is the option to change the fruit you use inside. Most dried fruits will work and you can chop large ones into smaller pieces.

Try dried cranberries, dried blueberries and the combo I’m looking forward to trying – Apricot and coconut.

Also, try adding in chopped nuts or chocolate too.

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A batch of rectangular biscuits filled with dried fruit spread out on a white board.

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Closeup of a stack of 5 rectangular biscuits filled with fruit. Cinnamon stick in front.

Garibaldi Biscuits Recipe

5 from 1 vote
A layer of currants squashed between two layers of dough, then baked, Garibaldi biscuits are buttery, fruity and easy to make. Also known as flies graveyard or squashed fly biscuits, these cookies have a crispy exterior and soft centre and are perfect with a cuppa.

Ingredients

  • cup currants (105g / 3.7oz)
  • cup Frangelico liqueur (80ml) (or notes 3)
  • 130 g plain (all-purp) flour (1 cup / 4.6oz)
  • 65 g caster (superfine) sugar, split in half (⅓ cup / 2.3oz)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 85 g unsalted butter, grated and cold (¾ stick / 3oz)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons milk, cold (30ml) (notes 1)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with a dash of water

Equipment

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl, combine the currants and liqueur. Set aside.
  • Combine the flour, half the sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together.
  • Add the cold grated butter, and cut it into the flour using a pastry blender, knife or your fingertips (if using your fingers, be careful not to melt all the butter).
  • Use a fork to mix through the milk, then pull the dough together with your hands.
  • Flatten out into a rectangle. Wrap in baking paper or plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / 160C fan forced. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  • Drain the currants, discarding the liquid. Set aside in a strainer over a dish to drain further.
  • In a small bowl, combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • Cut the dough in half and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out one half to about 20cm square (8×8 inches) – use the base of an 8 inch tin as a guide. Carefully transfer it to the baking tray.
  • Scatter the drained currants over the rolled dough, followed by half the cinnamon sugar.
  • Roll out the second piece of dough and lay it over the top. Press down gently all over with your hands and trim off the rough edges of dough.
  • Brush the top with the egg wash, then sprinkle over the remaining cinnamon sugar.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until the top is nice and golden.
  • Carefully, use the ends of the baking paper to move the biscuit from the tray to a cutting board. Cut into rectangles, then allow to cool completely.

Notes

  1. I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (= 4 teaspoons worldwide)
  2. The currants must soak for at least half an hour so make sure to do this step first.
  3. Traditionally you would use brandy to soak the currants but I like Frangelico and always have it on hand. A sherry, muscat or even port will do the trick too or a liqueur like Amaretto.
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