Monday, December 21, 2015

almond shortbread

Merry Christmas! Have some rich, dense and creamy gluten free (GF) shortbread—a small (but cunning) gift from me to anyone who is gluten-free or loves someone who is… And if everything goes according to plan, it will mean that lots more people will be able to offer home-baked gluten free goodies when I go round for a visit!

My mum’s shortbread was legendary, not least because it lasted for such a short time once she’d baked it… I have modified her recipe by increasing the usually small amounts of ground almonds and rice flour to completely replace the wheat flour. And I took inspiration from her use of whipping cream to ‘wet’ and bind the dry ingredients, instead of just using water. What an amazing difference—that creamy, fresh flavour I had always loved is right there in the first taste.

See below for recipe.

Gluten free almond, rice four and butter shortbread baked in an unglazed stoneware tray. Diameter 10”, 0.75” deep.
The trays make great pizza too. Christine Pedersen 2015.

Prepare a baking tray:
8 x 12 half baking tray works well, line with baking parchment
Or large pyrex pie plate or tray, grease well with butter.

Heat oven to 375C.

Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl:
2 cups finely chopped almonds
2 cups rice flour (brown or white, or a mix).
½ tsp salt

Blend in a food processor:
¾ cup butter
¾ cup granulated sugar

Add liquid and blend again very briefly:
4-5 tbsp water, or even better—use whipping cream (thanks mum)

2 tbsp extra sugar to sprinkle on top

Optional: add a 1/4 cup coarse chopped walnuts into the final mix. Substitute maple sugar instead of granulated sugar.

Add the butter/sugar/cream mixture to the almonds/rice flour/salt in the bowl and rub in quickly with fingers until everything is just combined, touching as little as possible.

Press into tray, sprinkle top with extra sugar. Bake at 375C for 20 minutes.

Make cuts into the shortbread while still hot, allow to cool and then cut again. Cool completely (or even chill) before lifting shortbread pieces from mould.

I find it best to store the cooked shortbread in the fridge and just bring a few pieces out to warm up before eating, keeps it really fresh-tasting.

Eat some shortbread as soon as it is cold, a bit more later to check on how the crumb is setting, and maybe try to put some in the freezer for next week ;)

Technical notes:
This recipe was developed at 3300 ft, in a very dry atmosphere - I use up to 5 tbsp liquid to get the right degree of ‘wetting’. You may need less moisture elsewhere.

My ‘gold standard’ test for a good GF recipe is that people can really just enjoy the food, whether they need to eat GF or not, the GF recipe becomes as valid as any other food choice. For me, this is a recipe that achieves that goal: I have changed a treasured recipe out of need and re-gained the rich satisfying shortbread that I really, really love. Hope you enjoy it too.

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