This is a GF variation on a Rachel Allen recipe which produces shortbread biscuits to die for. See the footnotes for loads of options for your own creativity – you can add virtually any flavours (and colours), including icing.
The dough should be made in advance and stored in the fridge or freezer until ready for baking.
Makes: 30+ biscuits depending on size
- 290g gluten-free plain flour
- 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 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 or icing
- 2 baking trays
- Baking/parchment paper to line both trays, plus additional for rolling
- 1 large and 1 medium mixing bowls, plus a small bowl for beaten egg
- A wooden spoon (or an electric mixer [hand-held or stand] if not creaming butter/sugar by hand)
- A sieve
- A spatula
- A cooling rack
- Line both baking trays with paper. Cut an additional piece of paper about 15″ square.
- Put the flour, baking powder (if using), and spices into a medium bowl, and mix with a fork. Get a sieve ready.
- Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Add the beaten egg and orange zest, and stir with vigour until it’s well combined.
- Sift the dry ingredients into the wet, and stir 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.)
- 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.)
Don’t worry if your cylinders aren’t perfect. Doesn’t matter for the final result, as you can make it rounder before slicing.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bake for 10-14 minutes, turning the trays halfway through for even baking, until lightly browned and a light finger touch shows them to be firm. Remove the trays from the oven and leave for 5 minutes before removing the biscuits to a cooling rack. If you have remaining discs, let the trays cool for 5 more minutes before loading up again, and baking.
- Once fully cooled, dust with icing sugar or slather/drizzle with icing.
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 or extract, with a smattering of finely chopped fresh lemon thyme and/or basil leaves, and 1/4 tsp ground ginger
– 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 or extract, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/8 tsp ground cardamom (3-4 green pods, seeds crushed)
– Lemon zest or extract, with 1/2 tsp crushed dried lavender (if you have edible-grade, i.e. culinary lavender)
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.
I made the Lemon & Lavender version, with 1 tsp lemon extract and 1/2 tsp crushed dried lavender (shaken through a sieve) in the biscuit dough. I dried and crushed both lemon zest and more lavender, and sprinkled both over the top of some icing (icing sugar, lemon juice, water, and purple gel food colour).
If you like nuts, try my GF Walnut & Cardamom Shortbread biscuits.
If you want chocolate today, try my GF Chocolate Shortbread.