Sablé (Shortbread) Biscuits

This is a GF variation on a Rachel Allen recipe which produces shortbread biscuits to die for. If you don’t fancy these flavours, see the footnotes for loads of options for your own creativity.

The dough should be made in advance and stored in the fridge or freezer until ready for baking.

Makes: 36+ biscuits depending on size
(to halve the recipe, use a small egg, 35-40g)


Ingredients

  • 290g gluten-free flour
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder (only if your GF flour is plain, not self-raising)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 150g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 110g sugar (golden caster, ideally; but white caster will do)
  • 1 large egg (65-70g when weighed in its shell), beaten
  • 1 small orange (around 175g), 1/2 of grated zest only
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

Kit

  • 2 baking trays
  • Baking/parchment paper to line both trays, plus additional for rolling
  • 1 large and 1 medium mixing bowls
  • An electric mixer (hand-held or stand) if not creaming butter/sugar by hand
  • A sieve
  • A cooling rack

Steps

  1. Line both baking trays with paper. Cut an additional piece of paper about 15″ square.
  2. Put the flour, baking powder (if using), and spices into a medium bowl, and mix with a fork. Get a sieve ready.
  3. Whisk the butter and sugar in a large bowl on medium-low speed until creamy. Add the beaten egg and orange zest, and mix manually with vigour until it’s well combined.
  4. Sift the dry ingredients into the wet, and stir manually just until fully combined.
    (Although this is gluten-free and therefore over-mixing shouldn’t be a problem, this is still traditional shortbread – so mix until it’s just fully come together into a dough.)
  5. Put the dough onto your paper square, and massage/roll with your hands into a smooth log about 12″ long. Roll the paper tightly over the log to cover it, twist the ends like a Christmas cracker, then put the dough into the fridge to firm up for at least 1 hour. (This will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for 3 months in a sealed plastic bag.)
    I divided the recipe and made 2 differently-flavoured doughs, and my cylinders weren’t perfect. Doesn’t matter for the final result, as you can make it rounder before slicing.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 180 C (160 C fan-assisted). Take the dough from the fridge and allow to warm up about 5 minutes.
  7. Roll the dough log in the paper to round it off, then unwrap it. Cut into 1/4″ slices, and place the rounds on the lined baking trays 5 x 3. (When baked from chilled, they hold their shape and don’t spread.) If you have more discs than will fit, put them back in the fridge.
  8. Bake for 10-11 minutes, turning the trays halfway through for even baking, until lightly browned. Remove the trays from the oven and leave for 5 minutes for the biscuits to firm up before removing them to a cooling rack. If you have remaining discs, let the trays cool for 5 more minutes before loading up again, and baking.
  9. Once fully cooled, dust with icing sugar.

Alternate Flavour Suggestions
(Add extracts/zest with the beaten egg; stir in herbs after sifting in the flour)
Lime zest, 1/2 tsp coffee extract, and a good grating of fresh nutmeg
Lemon zest, with a smattering of finely chopped fresh lemon thyme and/or basil leaves, and 1/4 tsp ground ginger
No zest; cherry and almond extract (1/2 tsp each), plus desiccated coconut nibs to garnish instead of icing sugar (sprinkle over when you turn the trays at the baking mid-point)
Orange zest, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/8 tsp ground cardamom (3-4 green pods, seeds crushed)
Lemon zest, with 1 tsp crushed lavender and 1 tsp finely chopped fresh mint (if you have edible-grade, i.e. culinary, dried lavender)

Colours
This is the perfect recipe to get your gel food colouring out! I plumped for red with lime zest & ginger, and green with lemon zest & cinnamon. (Add colour with the beaten egg.) My tasters heartily approved the cross-match of colour and flavour.

Nuts
If you like nuts, try my GF Walnut & Cardamom Shortbread biscuits.

Chocolate
If you want chocolate today, try my GF Chocolate Shortbread.

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