I love shortbread. In fact, I’d go miles for a true Scotch shortbread. And I don’t even like biscuits and cookies normally. Scottish shortbread was one of the first things I missed on the gluten free diet. And pizza. And crusty bread. And carrot cake. Not because you cannot get gluten free shortbread in the supermarket. You can. It tastes alright. I wanted a shortbread that doesn’t taste alright. I wanted a shortbread that tasted freaking awesome, fantastic, to-die-for, melt-in-the-mouth – and I got it.
I wanted to create a healthy-ish gluten free version of classic Scottish shortbread, not any old shortbread, but that rich, buttery, sandy, melt-in-the-mouth type of shortbread like made by Walkers brand which I absolutely adored in my pre-gluten-free days. With just three ingredients – organic salted butter, stevia, and a healthier gluten free flour blend with protein-rich and low-carb sorghum flour, my Scottish shortbread is totally free from any sugars, trans fats, flavourings, and preservatives, while featuring the taste, flavour, and the oh-so-good texture of the original. it took several attempts to create the perfect gluten free AND sugar free shortbread, but here is one that you should definitely not postpone to make!
Although I know that any Scotsman would be shocked by the concept of sugar free shortbread, my aim is to re-create old favourite recipes in a healthy and allergy-friendly way. In fact, shortbread is the only type of cookie where refined sugar can be totally replaced, as it is meant to be pale anyway and doesn’t need browning like other cookies do.
You will find that this shortbread is nothing short of divine, and – without wanting to flatter myself too much – probably the best you’ll get served outside of the highlands. It is very easy to make, too. The most important thing: Don’t EVER skimp on the butter! The butter is the star ingredient here, and that’s also why there cannot be a vegan Scottish shortbread. You can of course replace the butter with vegan spread if you must, and the result would no doubt be yummy, but it wouldn’t be Scottish shortbread. At all. Use BUTTER! Use organic butter, not homebrand or anything like that. Use salted butter. I know all those shortbread recipes out there calling for unsalted butter. Don’t listen to them. Use salted butter. If you can’t/don’t want to use salted butter for whatever reason, remember to add a generous pinch of sea salt to the dough. Remember there is THREE ingredients (counting the flours as one). There is no baking powder, no egg, no xanthan, and no vanilla! I didn’t even add flax, which I normally do with everything. This is a purist food! A note on the sweetener: If you use stevia, you can taste it in the final product. I like stevia and think it is the best calorie-free sweetener around, but if you loathe the taste of stevia, use erythritol, xylitol, or another granulated sweetener.
Makes 18 thick Scottish shortbread fingers (20×20 cm baking pan)
Adapted from Gluten Free Baking Bear
170 g organic, salted butter, 10 minutes out of the fridge (if using unsalted, you MUST add salt to the dough)
1/4 cup stevia, erythritol or other granulated sweetener (use slightly more if you like it sweet)
100 g sorghum flour
140 g arrowroot
60 g white rice flour
Preheat the oven to 150 °C. Make sure that your butter is cold! Do not use butter that is room temperature or warmer, or you will seriously ruin your dough! Mix the stevia and flours in a bowl until one colour. Now add the butter in chunks and rub in the dry mass WITH YOUR HANDS. The idea is that every bit of flour gets covered by butter. This is the fun part, especially if you get to lick your fingers in between! The dough will first resemble crumbles, and as the butter gets soft while you knead, the dough will soon come together as a ball, and the mixing bowl ends up clean and dry. No need to refrigerate the dough ball – just keep having fun!
Now press the dough into the baking pan. Tip: To lift out the shortbread more easily later, you can line the pan with some baking paper. Unfortunately, the shortbread will always crumble a little bit, which cannot be completely avoided. It doesn’t matter. Once, you have pressed the dough in evenly and pressed it flat with your hands, divide the dough with a rubber spatula into 18 bars (6×3). Next, poke holes into the bars with a fork, making sure the fork hits the bottom of the pan. Every bar should have three to four rows of “fork holes”. Place in oven and bake for approx. 40 minutes or until the edges turn VERY LIGHTLY GOLDEN. Some recipes say up to 60 minutes, but you must make sure not to over-bake the shortbread, as Scottish shortbread tends to be rather a little but underdone and crumbly instead of crispy and burnt.
Turn off the oven, take out the pan and let it cool down a bit before re-cutting the lines with the spatula and transferring the shortbread into the fridge. The shortbread will assume its unique and divine texture in the fridge. Lift out of the pan and devour.