L’heure des sablés est arrivée.
Every Christmas for as long as I can remember, we have made shortbread. My mum and I used to make it as gifts for people, wrapping up stacks of little biscuits in brightly coloured celophane, or storing them in decorative tins. Its a memory that I cherish, and I’ve been pleased to be able to continue the tradition every year.
Over the years, I’ve experimented with different types of shortbread. One year, I added orange zest. Another year, I added hazelnut meal. This year, I decided to add some traditional Christmas flavours with spices and currants. When I tasted the first biscuit, still hot from the oven (I wouldn’t recommend doing this actually, it was painful), it tasted exactly the way Christmas should.
I’m fortunate to have quite a large selection of cookie cutters at my disposal. My soon-to-be-sister-in-law gave me some gorgeous ones for my birthday a few years ago, and last year I picked up some new ones at a Christmas market in France. I think there’s something universally appealing about cookies shaped like animals or familiar objects. It seems to bring out the child in everyone, and if there’s any time of year when its okay to indulge your inner child, its Christmas.
A few Christmases ago, my school friends and I baked shortbread together. It was 40ºC (not ideal cooking weather), and the biscuits were almost impossible to cut out because the butter just kept softening in the sweltering heat. We ended up with a mixed bunch of somewhat misshapen biscuits, which we then proceeded to decorate with icing that melted almost immediately. Despite the heat, they turned out to be just as delicious as ever, and we had an absolute ball making them.
These biscuits would make a great homemade Christmas gift for a friend or colleague, especially if you can wrap them up in a nice box. I hope you enjoy this recipe, and that the weather holds out long enough for you to make it! Happy baking!
makes approx. 25 biscuits
100g butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup gluten-free plain flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1tsp xanthan gum
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 cup currants
- Preheat oven to 170ºC and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar using a spatula or metal spoon, until the mix is pale white but the sugar granules are still intact.
- Add in plain flour, rice flour, xanthan gum, spices, and currants. Stir well until all the ingredients are mixed in. Use your fingers to breakup any large sections of butter, until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add milk, and stir until the mix starts to come together as a dough. Use your hands to form a large ball of dough. Turn dough out onto a clean, floured surface, and flatten into a disc, approximately 1cm thick (you can use a rolling pin if you like).
- Cut out shapes using cookie cutters, and place on the baking sheet, leaving 1.5cm between each biscuits. Bake for 18-20 minutes (cooking time will depend on the size of the cookie cutter you have used. I would err on the side of slightly less cooking, as the biscuits will harden more as they cool). Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet before transferring to an airtight container.
Keeping time: 4 days in an airtight container.