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A vanilla shortbread cookie, with vanilla buttercream frosting, and all the delicious decoration… this letter cookie cake is perfect for birthdays and all occasions!

Letter cookie cakes

So… letter cookie cakes? Yeah, I realise I am a bit late in posting the recipe for this one, the crazy phase of these was a little while ago now, but in all honesty I just hadn’t got round to it. I do still utterly adore this sort of ‘cake’, so I am more than happy to post the recipe for it now, and hopefully it’s not too late for you guys! 

One thing I must discuss from the beginning? Is that YES it technically is a ‘cake’ even though there is no cake involved in the bake. It’s more the style of bake you could say? It would easily take the place of a cake at an occasion! 

These have been around for a while now, and I am unsure of where they started… sorry. They come in many variations, some which do include sponges that are cut very thinly, and some that include meringue… but I thought I would start with cookie. 


I’ve made a few of these nows, and the biscuit can vary somewhat depending on what recipe you use, but I thought I would make it as simple as possible, and use shortbread. I’ve made sugar cookie versions before, but that dough requires more ingredients, so maybe next time. 

I thought that shortbread was easy, as the base of it is just three ingredients. Butter, sugar and flour. You add flavouring in is you wish, for example I did vanilla, but you can vary this to anything you fancy. Lemon, orange, mint, etc! 


When making the biscuit dough, I really would recommend using actual unsalted butter. It just fares so much better, makes the dough easier to work with, and has the classic buttery taste that shortbread desires. 

For this time, as it’s my first recipe for these, I went with vanilla as it is the basics. A chocolate version will be zooming your way shortly, so don’t worry! 

Cutting the dough

When cutting the dough out, it is SO MUCH EASIER to roll the dough in between sheets of parchment paper, as then you don’t have to try and move the delicate shape, after you’ve cut it. I’ve tried, and failed, many times.

I went for a basic O shape as you can see, but you can cut out any letter or number you want, print it off, and make a stencil and cut to that. For the amount of dough I have used, it was perfect for three O’s, and some off-cut shortbread cookies. If you want to make a massive letter, with three or four layers, this probably won’t be enough biscuit dough. 

When making an extremely simple shape like this, you can just use two differently sized bowls like I did! If using a different letter or shape, you want to stick to a maximum height/width of probably 25cm or so, so that you have enough dough!

You want to roll the biscuit dough to be 1/2cm thick, and then put the dough in the fridge till solid as it will help it keep its shape. You want to be VERY careful with it before, during, and after baking because of the biscuit breaks, you’re scuppered. 


For the buttercream, I again just went simple with american buttercream frosting, as sometimes it is just best. It does make the bake very sweet, but that’s what you have to expect from a letter cookie cake. It will be sweet! 

When making the buttercream, you should also use unsalted butter. Not a spread, not stork, not a branded butter that you like… just basic, unsalted butter. No added liquid, no trying to make it low fat, just stick to the recipe!


Decoration wise, you can go as much, or as little as you want. I use a jumbo round piping tip for this bake, with some large disposable piping bags. It’s the easiest thing to use, as you can get the cute little rounds of buttercream that make the bake so symmetrical.

I then use anything I have in my fridge, or anything I fancy for the topping. Chocolate coated strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, mini meringues, edible flowers, chocolate bark shards, freeze dried raspberries, and so on! 

You can also use sweets, chocolates, other cookies, macarons, other fruit, and so on! There is nothing stopping you using what you want. I just think it’s best to randomly put the bits on top, and don’t think about it too much. I always think these look best when they’re random. 

Put the larger bits on first, and then fill with the smaller items. Or, do it the other way around! I tend to lay out what I am using, and grab bits and roll with it. One of the best things about this sort of bake is that it is so easily personalised!

Other shortbread recipes

If you fancy some of my other shortbread recipes – please check out my website! With household favourites such as millionaires shortbread, shortbread hearts and chocolate orange shortbread cookies, theres a recipe for everyone!

Have any questions? Leave them below! Enjoy! x 

Letter Cookie Cake!

A vanilla shortbread cookie, with vanilla buttercream frosting, and all the delicious decoration... this letter cookie cake is perfect for birthdays and all occasions!
Print Pin Rate
Category: Dessert
Type: Cookies
Keyword: Cookie Cake
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Decorating Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 12 People
Author: Jane's Patisserie


The Cookies

  • 250 g unsalted butter (not Stork)
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 375 g plain flour (extra for dusting)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

The Buttercream

  • 250 g unsalted butter (not stork)
  • 500 g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  • Chocolate covered strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Mini meringues
  • Edible flowers
  • Sprinkles
  • Freeze dried raspberries
  • Chocolate shards


For the Cookies

  • Make sure your butter is at room temperature.
  • Beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and thoroughly mixed.
  • Add in the plain flour, and vanilla, and beat again until a dough is formed. It can be a little crumbly, but it does come together.
  • Get two larger pieces of parchment paper, and roll 1/3 of the dough in between it.
  • Roll out so it's larger than your largest bowl, and then lightly cut around the bowl, without cutting through the paper. Add a smaller bowl to the middle, and cut around that as well, and remove the excess dough.
  • If using the shape of a letter, or number, cut out around a stencil lightly, and remove excess dough.
  • Repeat the process again, for the other two layers.
  • Place the three large cookies in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or the freezer for 10 minutes.
  • Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan, and then bake the cookies in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until they are lightly starting to brown. Leave the cookies to cool fully on the tray.
  • With the excess dough, you can cut out any shapes of cookie you want. They will take about 10 minutes to bake, at the same temperature.

For the Buttercream

  • Make sure your butter is at room temperature.
  • Beat the butter on it's own for a few minutes to loosen it and make it lighter.
  • Add in the icing sugar and beat fully to incoporate it!
  • Add in the vanilla, and keep on beating the buttercream for about 5 minutes to make it lovely and light and fluffy!

For the Decoration

  • Add a bit of buttercream onto your serving plate to stick the first biscuit down.
  • Carefully add on your first biscuit shape, and pipe on your buttercream! You can use whatever piping tip you like!
  • Add on the second biscuit and repeat!
  • Add on the third biscuit, and repeat again.
  • Now top with whatever you like - raspberries, chocolate dip strawberries, mini meringues, sprinkles, chocolate shards, blueberries, freeze-dried fruit and so on!
  • For this, it's best not to overthink it, and just go with the flow! I usually add on the larger objects, and then go down in size to make sure everything fits!
  • Enjoy!


  • You can of course cut whatever biscuit shape you like! I just did the circles as the easiest example.
  • I don't add measurements for the decorations as this can vary on the size of the biscuit cake you make, or shape. 
  • Also, some people may want to decorate it differently!
  • I would store this in the fridge personally, and it lasts a good 2-3 days!


Find my other Recipes on my Recipes Page!

You can find me on:

J x

© Jane’s Patisserie. All images & content are copyright protected. Do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words and credit me, or link back to this post for the recipe.


  1. Laura on March 13, 2023 at 4:07 pm

    My mum loves shortbread but hates buttercream – do you think I could substitute for a thick whipped fresh cream or something like that please? It looks beautiful, I hope I can replicate it!

    • Jane's Patisserie on March 17, 2023 at 10:59 am

      Yes this should be fine, though it may not be sturdy enough for in-between the layers. You could try Swiss meringue buttercream perhaps? x

  2. Stephanie on September 5, 2022 at 11:06 pm

    How do you transfer the other layers without breaking?

  3. Kellie on April 16, 2022 at 5:51 am

    How long does the shortbread last for? Can you bake the shortbread a week in advance and leave in an airtight container in the pantry?

    • Jane's Patisserie on April 16, 2022 at 9:35 am

      The shortbread will last for about 2+ weeks easily so yes that would work! x

  4. Hannah Pope on November 20, 2021 at 8:52 am

    Is there a way to make a dairy and gluten free version of this please?

  5. Amanda Le Roux on October 4, 2021 at 6:32 pm

    Hi Jane, I will never purchase butter cookies in the store again. Your recipe is amazingly yummy. I made my first letter cookie today and it was so worth it. Stuck to your recipe and it turned out beautifully. Thank you so much.

  6. Megan on August 6, 2021 at 10:14 am

    Hi Jane, this looks great! I am looking to make a cake version of this! Would you suggest just using one of your vanilla cake recipes? What would quantities etc be if i was planning on making the number/letter roughly the size of an A4 sheet? Also would want it to have two layers so am i better using a deeper tin and then cutting it in half or making two separate sheet cakes ? Also i know buttercream iced cakes would usually be stored in the fridge, would this be required to be or would it be okay in a cake box since it isn’t a proper iced cake? Thanks in advance!

    • Tracy on September 29, 2021 at 7:26 am

      Hi Jane I’m going to attempt this for my 40th birthday party. But I was thinking of putting raspberry flavouring in the buttercream and pink colouring, will the colouring make it more runny? I was just going to use one of your other buttercream recipes on this cake would you think that would be OK?.
      Tracy x

    • Jane's Patisserie on October 1, 2021 at 3:43 pm

      It would work well! You just need to use a high quality colouring such as sugarflair, progel, coloursplash or wilton as you need to add so little! x

    • Janet Smithers on November 1, 2021 at 2:27 pm

      5 stars
      Made these today and couldn’t stop eating the biscuits… omw…
      Recipe was perfect. Thank you

  7. Kris on July 23, 2021 at 11:18 am

    Hi Jane,
    Thank you for the recipe. Could you substitute caster sugar for normal white sugar?

  8. Kirsty on February 28, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    Hi Jane! Love your recipes. I’m wondering with this would a firmer ganache hold up the biscuit instead of buttercream? Thanks 🙂

  9. Kris on February 20, 2021 at 4:55 pm

    Hello Jane!
    The cookie number cake looks gorgeous. Just wondering though, how do you store the cookie on the fridge? Does it get harden after keeping it in the fridge for a few days?
    Thankyou in advance!

    • Jane's Patisserie on February 20, 2021 at 5:53 pm

      Because of the type of biscuit that it is, it would be fine in the fridge! x

  10. Bhuvi on January 20, 2021 at 3:30 am

    Thanks for the recipe . How thick I need to roll the dough for each layer of biscuit ?

  11. Skye on December 16, 2020 at 11:02 am

    The best cookie recipe I’ve made!! Love your recipes!
    Only question is what would you do to make the butter cream less sweet?


    • Jane's Patisserie on December 16, 2020 at 12:45 pm

      You could use slightly salted butter?

  12. Sandra Ko on November 26, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    Hello Jane,

    Is it possible to make the shortbread a week before and store them in an airtight bag?

    Many thanks

    • Jane's Patisserie on November 26, 2020 at 3:29 pm

      You can do – but they are very delicate so just try to make sure not to move them about too much! x

  13. Anna on November 22, 2020 at 4:09 am

    4 stars
    Attempted this recipe a few weeks ago, super quick and easy. I was able to make 2 double layer numbers and still had leftover dough which I wrapped and stored in the freezer to use on another occasion.
    One issue I had was with that it never formed together into a dough, it remained crumbled. It easily came together in my hands but when I attempted to roll it, it started crumbling again.
    I added about 1-2 tsp of milk and mixed again. It still looked crumbly, but once formed together in hands, it came together nicely and was more manageable. I also used a parchment over the dough to roll it as I didn’t want to lose the moisture with the excess flour, and it worked perfectly!

  14. Josie on November 15, 2020 at 8:49 pm

    Hi Jane,
    I was just wondering if when you use fresh fruit on your bakes, do you have the issue of juices leaking from them, especially the strawberries? If so, what is it you do to prevent this from happening or what would you recommend trying? I’ve used them a couple of times but sometimes it doesn’t take that long for the juices to come through. Many thanks for sharing your recipes, I’ve used a few and they always turn out really well 🙂

    • Jane's Patisserie on November 16, 2020 at 9:29 am

      I tend to find that can happen more so in summer when strawberries are more in season, but also if the strawberries are kept out of the fridge – I don’t find it happens if I keep them in the fridge x

  15. Louise on October 3, 2020 at 10:22 am

    if i wanted to make a 21 number version of this, would i need to double the ingredients?

    • Jane's Patisserie on October 3, 2020 at 10:57 am

      It depends on the size of the numbers you want to use as that’s the main guide – but it would be safer to do that and then freeze any leftover dough!

  16. Joanne on September 5, 2020 at 6:13 am

    I’m just wondering how far in advance could I make and decorate the cookie cake?

    • Jane's Patisserie on September 5, 2020 at 8:08 am

      I would say it lasts a few days, but the longer you leave it after decorating the softer the biscuit will get x

  17. Carolina on August 19, 2020 at 3:17 am

    Thanks so much for this recipe and instructions, excited to try it out! Is it possible to freeze the baked shortbread?

  18. Sivaranshane Ajanthan on July 30, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    What was size of the rounds you cut. Just to plan how much dough I need to make

    • Jane's Patisserie on July 30, 2020 at 7:55 pm

      Hey! As mentioned on the post you want to use probably a maximum width of 25cm, and then you will have excess from the cut out (but that depends on shape chosen)

  19. Yukti on July 13, 2020 at 5:14 am

    Hi jane
    I made these and the ratios were bang on. Thankyou.
    Can you help me with a chocolate version?


    • Jane's Patisserie on July 13, 2020 at 11:42 am

      Hey! Ah yay! I would use the same, but use 330g flour, 45g cocoa powder!

  20. Ella on June 15, 2020 at 11:02 pm

    Hi Jane do you have to use caster sugar. I don’t have it on hand and I only going to the store if it’s absolutely necessary.

    • Jane's Patisserie on June 16, 2020 at 10:28 am

      You do need sugar for it as it’s quite a key ingredient – you can’t just leave it out unfortunately!

  21. Taylor on May 14, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    That looks amazing, I definitely want to try this!
    I have 2 questions if you don’t mind answering them please.

    1. Where did you buy your edible flowers? (I like the ones you used specifically).
    2. The method for the decoration section is blank (there a nutritional box straight after the heading) I know its probably quite straightforward but was there a particular method you used?


    • Jane's Patisserie on May 14, 2020 at 5:39 pm

      Hey! That’s the weirdest thing, it went back to an old version so I’ve just reverted it and the instructions are back! The edible flowers I bought specifically were from Sainsbury’s, but I haven’t seen them in there recently! Online may be the best shout!

  22. Audrey on April 18, 2020 at 10:06 pm

    can i use vanilla cake instead of cookies?

    • Jane's Patisserie on April 19, 2020 at 10:41 am

      Umm yes sure, just means with cake that you get wastage of cake!

  23. Atturina Davenport-Handley on March 13, 2020 at 1:38 am

    Can I make shortbread the day before and then add cream and decorations the next day? How do I store the cooked shortbread till the next day?

    • Jane's Patisserie on March 13, 2020 at 10:29 am

      I would carefully store it in a container if you can at room temp!

  24. Maria Medina on December 5, 2019 at 12:55 am

    My doubt is that when the cake is ready to be eaten, how do you cut it in pieces so that the piece looks nice and it doesn’t break ? Do the pieces cut easily and maintain the shape of the piece ?

  25. Jen on November 12, 2019 at 8:19 am

    Hi Jane! How far in advance can I make these? Can I leave the shortbread in the fridge overnight and bake the next morning? Thank you!!
    P.S. every recipe I have made of yours, everyone has loved! So thank you! X

    • Jane's Patisserie on November 12, 2019 at 4:06 pm

      You can just leave the shortbread at room temp – but with buttercream it will last a few days (as the decorations are often fresh!)x

  26. zahra on September 21, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Wow Jane, this looks gorgeous 😍😍

  27. Ansa on September 21, 2019 at 11:44 am

    looks absolutely delicious! Would you be able to do a video on YouTube for this?
    Also, wanted to ask if you could do different types of icings and do a little recipe for those too?
    Thank you so much and for all the delicious other cake recipes!

  28. Julie on September 21, 2019 at 8:43 am

    That cookie number looks amazing. I’ve wanted to make one for ages but how on earth do you cut them don’t they just break into bits 😩

    • Jane's Patisserie on September 21, 2019 at 1:42 pm

      Very carefully! It’s much better to roll them onto the paper already, so you then don’t have to transfer it across!! x

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