Nigella Lawson is one of my all time favourite food writers. I love her ideas around food and the way she writes about it. I used to cook recipes from her books all the time, before having to cook for a gluten and dairy free diet. So this year, I have decided to recreate gluten and dairy free versions of some of her much-loved recipes. Although some of these have certainly been quite a challenge, like her Dream Bars for example. However, persistence does pay off in the end, and I’ll be sharing that particular recipe with you in the near future.
Another of Nigella’s wonderful recipes is for Vanilla Shortbread, which was always a family favourite, before having to eat gluten and dairy free. It comes from her book Forever Summer, which this recipe has been adapted from.
Now I just LOVE shortbread, with it’s deliciously sweet and buttery texture. My favourite types are those that effortlessly melt-in-your-mouth. However, not being the easiest of things to adapt, there has been a little trial and error in getting the texture just right. Many of my earlier attempts always seemed to bake up a little too crisp, instead of having that lovely soft and melting texture. Although I think the main issue, besides the need to tweak the fat and flour ratios, was the swiss roll pan I initially used. I think it was just too large, so I went out and bought a smaller one. This definitely did the trick, as the next few attempts worked out perfectly.
For accurate cup measurements, I sift the potato starch and icing sugar before measuring, so that there are no lumps/clumps. All cup measurements are firmly packed.
I hope you enjoy this ‘Nigella inspired’ shortbread as much as my family and friends.
108g (3.8 ounces or ¾ cup) pure icing sugar (I use this brand)
96g (3.4 ounces or ¾ cup) superfine white rice flour
84g (3.0 ounces or ¾ cup) corn starch
60g (2.2 ounces or ⅓ cup) potato starch
44g (1.6 ounces or ⅓ cup) tapioca starch
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) xanthan gum
216g (7.6 ounces or 1½ cups) gluten and dairy free butter, at room temperature
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod
Golden/raw caster sugar or superfine white sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 140C and grease and line a swiss roll pan, my pan measured 32cm X 25cm (12½ inches X 10 inches)
Sift all the dry ingredients together and then tip them into a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Now add the butter and vanilla seeds, before gently mixing together on a low speed, until well combined. The dough should be soft, pliable and easy to work with.
Using your fingers, gently press the biscuit dough as evenly as you can into the prepared tin, which does take a little time and patience. Once pressed into the pan, you can use a sturdy spatula to smooth over the surface.
As you won’t be able to cut them up once baked, you’ll need to use the tip of a sharp knife to cut the dough in to fingers before baking. Just don’t cut too hard, as you may end up scoring the bottom of your pan. I cut mine in to three strips length ways and then 10 strips width ways, which gave me 30 fingers in total from one pan. However, you can cut them in to any size that suits your preference. Use a fork and gently poke each shortbread finger down the centre 3 times.
Bake the shortbread for approximately 23-25 minutes, until it’s still pale but ever so lightly golden around the edges. Once it comes out of the oven, you may need to go over some of the score lines with a sharp knife again and re-cut them. Then allow the shortbread to cool in the pan for 8-10 minutes.
Using a small pallet knife, gently remove the shortbread from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack. Liberally sprinkle golden/raw caster sugar or superfine white sugar over the top and allow them to cool completely, before storing them in an airtight container.
Recipe by: The Gluten & Dairy Free Bakehouse
Note: all recipe oven temperatures shown are for a fan forced electric oven. Please refer to the below guide to help you adjust your oven accordingly. This recipe is shown in bold.
Oven Temperatures Chart
130C = 110C fan = 250F = Gas mark 1
150C = 130C fan = 300F = Gas mark 2
160C = 140C fan = 325F = Gas mark 3
180C = 160C fan = 350F = Gas mark 4
190C = 170C fan = 375F = Gas mark 5
200C = 180C fan = 400F = Gas mark 6
220C = 200C fan = 425F = Gas mark 7
230C = 210C fan = 450F = Gas mark 8