You know winter is on the way when on getting home from work you reach for a cup of tea rather than a cold (gluten free) beer. And what better to go with your cuppa than the B family favourite, a nice piece of shortbread.
With shortbread, the clue is in the name. Above all else it should be ‘short’ i.e. crumbly. As many of you know, gluten free flours do an excellent job of crumbly whether you want them to or not. So my theory is that gluten free shortbread should be even nicer than the real thing! I put 4 readily available shortbreads to the test in this week’s Bread to Bread challenge.
In my book, a good shortbread should be pale and golden, crumbly (but not too much) and above all buttery. I judged them across all of these criteria – so which ones will have me doing a highland fling? And which am I sticking in the cheesecake?
The Imposter Prize – Sainsbury’s Free From Shortcake Fingers
£1.09 for 125g/10 fingers from Sainsbury’s, 61 calories per finger
An imposter! Shortcake is usually made with margarine rather than butter – so if you are looking for a dairy-free version, try a shortcake. This had a deceptive shape – just like the shortbread fingers I used to know and love, but you really can tell the difference. The texture is much too crisp and biscuity, it breaks cleanly. The colour is an almost artificial golden-yellow, and the flavour lacks the rich depth I am looking for. Not a bad biscuit, but my mistake to include it in this competition.
Overall GF-Nomability: 4/10
The Grinch Prize – Prewett’s Shortbread Christmas Trees
£2.49 for 170g/9 broken biscuits from Sainsbury’s, 59 calories per tree
Highland points for including oat flour, but this may account for the odd, grey anaemic colour of these trees. It was hard to count the number, because they were so sad and broken – not very festive at all! The butteryness somewhat makes up for it, but the texture is very grainy and dry, tasting almost undercooked and floury. Bah humbug, Prewett’s.
Overall GF-Nomability: 5/10
The Perfectly Pale & Interesting Prize – Sunstart Free From Shortbread
£1.40 for 150g/9 rounds from Tesco, 81 calories per round. (These are also marketed as own brand in Tesco and Asda)
These butter-free (cheat!) rounds have the perfect pale golden colour, and delicately glisten with sugar. They have a very regimented uniform shape and an even crumb. Downsides are the lack of richness (see, you should have used butter) and the slight odd, pasty aftertaste which must come from the predominant ingredient being corn starch. They were also the most highly calorific of our contenders so minus girly-points!
Overall GF-Nomability: 6.5/10
The Pass Them Off As Your Own Prize – Kent & Fraser Vanilla & Walnut Shortbread
£2.29 for 125g/10 rounds from Ocado, 65 calories per round
These were the most indulgent-looking of the bunch, with pleasing homemade shapes and a lovely golden colour. Annoyingly some had broken, as they are very crumbly, with a very fine/smooth grain. The fact that the number 1 ingredient is butter tells you what you need to know about the flavour – it’s excellent and rounded, rich and not too sweet. The walnuts are quite few, but otherwise my favourite of the bunch.
Overall GF-Nomability: 8/10