Delicious Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, and Low-Glycemic Shortbread

Shortbread is a traditional cookie from Scotland using the most simple of ingredients for a lovely, buttery cookie. Making shortbread is a somewhat meditative practice for me, as it brings my attention to the Scottish branch of my family.

I used to make shortbread with sprouted spelt because I’m allergic to modern wheat. However, I need to eat a low-glycemic diet to manage my PCOS (Polycycstic Ovarian Syndrome). Spelt still has too many carbs for me to eat with any frequency. I found a grain-free version of shortbread plus a salted caramel topping at the Nourished Kitchen blog. I didn’t bother with the caramel, as I have to keep those carbs down. Honestly, it isn’t necessary for this shortbread which has a delicate, natural sweetness.

Almond flour is full of protein, fiber, Vitamin E, and magnesium. Coconut flour is jam packed with fiber, protein, and gives a great texture. Real butter from grass fed cows provides a multitude of health benefits, including nutrients to prevent thyroid and adrenal problem, as well as cancer. For a more in depth look at the benefits of adding real butter from grass fed cows, check out this article from Body Ecology. With only a 1/4 cup of honey, this is a protein and fiber rich treat, suitable for any low-glycemic, wheat-free, or gluten-free diet.

Here’s how I made the shortbread:

Ingredients

*Put a stick of butter in the freezer for a few hours to get really good and cold. Also, many grocery stores now carry their own store brand pastured butter, as well as Kerry Gold, which is imported from Ireland. Otherwise, check with a local dairy to find good butter, or make your own from good, local cream.

** The flavor of real, raw, local honey will change throughout the season. Play with the different flavors, and enjoy the variations!

Equipment

  • mesh strainer/sifter
  • large mixing bowl
  • medium mixing boal
  • box grater
  • measuring cups
  • rubber/silicone spatula
  • ceramic shortbread pan (Shortbread Pan: Buy it here)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift the almond flour into the medium mixing bowl. There will be a little extra flour in the bowl. Pour the excess back into the almond flour bag (or into a canister if that’s how you store your flour). Do the same with the coconut flour. Add the salt to the flour in the medium bowl and sift all of it into the large mixing bowl. Do not skip the sifting. If you do, you run the risk of having a very dry, powdery shortbread. Shortbread should be a little crumbly. It should not be powdery. Sifting prevents this problem.

Take your stick of butter out of the freezer, and being careful not to cut your fingers, grate the butter using a box grater. Put to one side while you add the honey. You will be left with an “end” of the stick of butter that you cannot grate without cutting your fingers. Take that end, and grease a 1/4 cup measuring cup. This will help prevent the honey sticking to it. Fill the measuring cup with honey, and using the rubber or silicone spatula, add the honey to the sifted dry ingredients. Add the grated butter, which should still be very cold, and add the teaspoon of vanilla.

Shortbread ingredients showing grated butter.

Mix with your fingertips. Work the mixture with your fingers thoroughly until it is all incorporated and crumbly. It will look somewhat like scrambled eggs. Try to get mostly butter on your hands first. It will keep the honey from sticking to you.

Butter fully incorporated into the flour.

Here’s a photo of what my shortbread pan looks like. It has a Tudor rose, Scottish thistle, Celtic knot, and a Welsh dragon. This pan makes eight shortbread wedges. I didn’t grease the pan, as there is an entire stick of butter in the shortbread. When I took the shortbread out, the pan didn’t need more than a rinse in hot water.

My ceramic shortbread pan.

Press mixture into the ceramic shortbread pan. Try to make it as even as possible. With a fork, prick holes all over the back of the shortbread.

Shortbread ready for the oven.

Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are brown. Move to a rack to cool down for about 10-15 minutes.

Shortbread out of the oven and cooling on a rack.

While still warm, use a butter knife to push the shortcake away from the sides of the pan. (I really didn’t need to do this, but it’s a good idea just in case it sticks.) Turn it out onto a cutting board. It should just come right out. If it sticks at all, just give a tap on the back of the pan. While still warm, use a long knife and cut along the lines to create the shortbread wedges.

Shortbread, out of the pan, ready to cut into wedges.

Something this delicious and special deserves a special plate. I love handmade items, and found a lovely Etsy shop, Saxon Design Studio. I have a few items from this shop, and I’ve been very happy. This plate has a griffin in the center of it.

My griffin plate from Saxon Designs Studio.

I’d love to hear what you think about this grain-free alternative to traditional shortbread.  Please leave a comment below!

6 Responses to “Delicious Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, and Low-Glycemic Shortbread

  • Lovely! One of these days we need to get ourselves a fancy shortbread pan.

    We’ve been using buckwheat for ours since we gave up the grains. It’s very dark in color which sometimes makes being sure it is done difficult, but works well for us. I like using something that can be grown locally, which is one of the gardening “experiments” we have planned this year.

    • That’s something that has crossed my mind a few times… coconut flour and other coconut products are not a local product. Almonds are not grown locally to us either. I’m curious about experimenting with other nuts to make flour and see how it turns out. Coconut and almond flour are far from inexpensive already, and I have to question the long term availability of these products as the cost of fuel rises with the devaluation of the dollar. I will say that as long as I do not consume it daily, sprouted/soaked spelt doesn’t cause the inflammation and other symptoms that modern wheat does to me.

      Have you experimented making shortbread with buckwheat?

  • I know this is an older post, but I have been looking for scotch shortbread (as my mother called it) with almond and coconut flour for a while – glad to find this! We did not use a ceramic dish, but rolled it out on a cookie sheet, scored into squares with a butter knife, and baked it. Sometimes we sprinkled with red or green sugar, but I can’t use sugar anymore. I will definitely make this and my son, who is now gluten and sugar free, will love it. Thanks!

    • Hi Carol,
      A lot of people are having trouble with gluten and other proteins in wheat. I’ve made the shortbread a few times now, tweaking it, nudging it, trying to find the closest in taste and texture to shortbread. The best flour blend I’ve found for it is “Gluten Free Mama’s Almond Flour Blend.” You can get it on Amazon. It’s a little pricey, but it makes some seriously good shortbread. And, I find it doesn’t break apart so easily or get as dark. It’s definitely not a low-carb option, but it’s a very good gluten-free option.

  • Megan Griffiths
    3 years ago

    How much is in a stick of butter? In New Zealand we get butter in half pound blocks (or 500 g ) not sticks.

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