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Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

      My wife loves shortbread.  I have been buying her the Walker brand that is made with lots of gluten.  I decided to make some gluten free ones so that we could save some money and so that I could also have some cookies. I looked on line and found a comment that said ‘this recipe was just like Walker’s shortbread’, so I picked that one.
     Evidently,  there is somewhat of a controversy about whether or not to use vanilla in shortbread.  Some say it is not real shortbread with it and others say shortbread is better with it.  I decided to look at the Walker box and there was no vanilla so I left it out.  There was also some contention about what kind of sugar to use, brown, white or confectioner’s.  Again, I looked to the Walker box for guidance.  Regular sugar it is.  Then some recipes urged the use of corn starch and or rice flour for authentic Scottish shortbread.  I figured that with GF baking I would be using tapioca flour anyway which is  equal in texture to cornstarch and then decided to use some sweet rice flour in the blend with sorghum flour as well. 
     Usually GF dough is wetter and harder to work with than wheat dough, but this recipe was easy to form and roll.  The instructions called for kneading the dough for ten minutes.  I could not figure out why this was necessary so I kneaded it just enough to get it to together.  I rolled the dough out between two sheets of wax paper.  Some other recipes called for pressing the dough into the pan by hand.
     My only worries were how long to bake the shortbread.  The time varied so much in the various recipes from 40 minutes to an hour.  The instructions were to bake them until hard in the center and just golden brown on the edges.  I was afraid to go by the color as GF dough is not the same color as wheat flour dough and it is tricky to tell if it is just brown enough before you really go too far and it is overdone.  I watched it like a hawk after the first 30 minutes of baking.  I peeked at least every 5 minutes.  At 40 minutes I pulled it out of the oven.  It looked golden enough for me.  Though the center was not completely hard, I knew from my baking experience that often a butter cookie will harden more after cooling.
     The cookies smell wonderful and taste as good as they smell.  The warm cookies are  crisp yet tender and a bit crumbly.  Once cooled completely they remain tender and hold together well.  I am told that the Walker cookies are much harder in texture and require a firm bite to eat them.  These cookies require only a gentle bite.

     *Just wanted to add that it does make a difference what type of butter you use.  I made it with regular unsalted butter and it was good, but with a good quality butter (I used Organic Valley brand) these cookies are absolutely amazing.



1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Sugar - I used evaporated cane juice crystals
1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
3/4 cup Tapioca Flour
1/4 cup Sweet Rice Flour
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum

     Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare a 7” square baking pan by lining it with a 7” wide strip of parchment paper that hangs over 2 sides of the pan.  This paper will make it easy to remove the cookies without breaking them.  It will also protect the bottom of the pan from marks when you cut the cookies into shapes with a knife. 
7" Square pan lined with a strip of parchment paper.
     In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle blade, or by hand, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. 
     In a separate bowl add the flours, salt and xanthan gum and mix until well blended.  Add the flour mixture, all at once, to the butter mixture and mix with a fork or with the paddle blade of the mixer until just mixed.
Flour mixture just mixed into the butter mixture with an electric mixer.
     Gather the dough into a ball and knead until it comes together well.  
Dough kneaded until it holds together.
     Place the dough on a piece of wax paper and shape it into a flattened square of sorts.  Top with another piece of wax paper and, with a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 7” square that is 1/2” thick.  You can also press the dough into the bottom of the pan and flatten it with your hand.
Dough rolled out between wax paper.
Using a ruler to slide the dough edges into a square. 
Dough formed into a square about 1/2 inch thick & ready to be put into the pan.
     With a sharp knife cut the dough into the desired sized cookies.  I made 3 equal rows with 8 bar shaped cookies in each row.  
Raw dough in the pan, patted down evenly and cut into 24 bars.
There are 3 rows, each with 8 bar-shaped cookies.
     Using a skewer make holes  in the cookies.  Be sure to push the skewer through until it hits the bottom of the pan.  You can also use a fork to make the holes.  I used the skewer so that the bars would look like the Walker cookies.
Making lots of holes with a wooden skewer.
Make sure you push the skewer to the bottom of the pan each time.
Raw dough with all the holes and all the bar shapes cut.
     Bake for about 40 minutes or until the cookies get golden brown on the edges.  When done, remove from oven.  While still quite warm recut the lines with a sharp knife to separate the cookies.  Use the parchment paper to lift the cut cookies out of the pan and place on a rack to cool completely.
Baked cookies in pan.  The lines are all cut again with a sharp knife
while the cookies are still pretty warm.  
     Each cookie is 2 Weight Watcher points if you cut the entire recipe into 24 equally sized cookies.



  1. I was home alone and thought I'd give your recipe a try. I am highly allergic to corn and yours was one of only a few I found without gluten or corn starch.
    As usual, in a pantry full of all kinds of Gf flours, I was out of sweet rice flour! So desperate was I for a shortbread cookie, I decided to use Carol Fenster’s Sorghum Flour Blend I had mixed up this week. Recipe below...
    After calculating how much more of each ingredient would be needed for the 9x9 inch Nordic Snowflake pan (that I bought just for these shortbread cookies), I got to work. I used some large grain raw turbinado sugar my friends brought back from Hawaii.
    So, how were they, you ask? I baked them for 40 minutes, but I could have left them in a little longer. They were baked, but not browned at all (which is probably what one wants in a shortbread). They were exactly the same taste and texture I remember from my childhood--just like mom made. I put some in a zip lock bag and took them to a bake sale the next day. They were a hit, although they did get rather crumbly after getting crushed in my pocket. I had my Scottish friend taste some and she thought they were "lovely"- especially the little grains of sugar. She is a great baker and the most honest person ever, so they must be good. Four other non-celiacs thought they were really great--nobody guessed they were gluten free.
    Thanks for your efforts with this blog. I can't wait to try my white chocolate and macadamia nuts with your choc chip cookie recipe.

    Carol Fenster’s Sorghum Flour Blend
    1 ½ cups sorghum flour

    1 ½ cups potato starch

    1 cup tapioca starch

    1. Marge,
      So excited and happy to hear that you tried this recipe and it came out so well. I really appreciate that you took the time to comment. Positive feedback like yours keeps me inspired to keep baking and blogging. Thank you!

  2. I cant wait to try this... Thanks for sharing.

    1. You are quite welcome. I hope you enjoy the shortbread.

  3. Hi Bryna,
    I have to admit I cheated. I was looking for a shortbread recipe with tapioca flour because I had some on hand but I didn't need a GF recipe. Your recipe came up in Google so I tried it. I did use the tapioca flour but then substituted the other GF flours in your recipe with plain wheat flour (and omitted the xanthan gum). Well it worked! It's such a great recipe! I just think you hit the nail on the head with everything else: the right amounts, oven temperature and length of time, etc. So while I can't comment on the gluten free cookies, I do think this recipe is perfect even not gluten free (but still using the tapioca flour)!!! Thank you so much, now I can fulfil my shortbread craving!

    1. I'm delighted to hear that this recipe came out well even with gluten! Thank you for your uplifting comments. Happy to have helped with your shortbread cravings! Enjoy!


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