Gluten free pecan and vanilla shortbread

This is the pointy part of the year when our ‘busy’ lifestyles become more hectic than usual. Fighting for a carparking space and battling the multitudes at crowded shopping malls is not my idea of a good time. Completing my present purchasing early, allows me to enjoy the process and maintain some semblance of sanity.

When I think of childhood Christmases, certain gifts I received stand out (hello wholesome Sindy doll, no pneumatic Barbie for me.) What I remember most however, is that feeling where the world has slowed down. Of spending it with my crazy beautiful family, of the steadfast family friends who tethered us, of decorated pine trees hauled from the paddock next door fat and laden down with old school tinsel, Dads long walking socks used as Christmas stockings stuffed full of small and thoughtful delights.

I think of all the delicious things we ate; shiny glazed hams studded with cloves, homemade pavlovas crunchy on the outside and gooey in the middle, enough boiled new potatoes to feed an army and freshly shelled green peas – a job shared by all. Of scorching hot days when our bums stuck to vinyl car seats, us kids making whirlpools in above-ground swimming pools and running wild through sprinklers in baggy one-piece swimming cozzies. I hope one day, my own children will look back and remember the traditions created and moments spent together and not the ‘stuff’ that they received.

My goal has always been to spend the last week before Christmas away from the shops. Soaking in the festive feeling, spending time with loved ones, enjoying the Christmas lights on our street and of course baking shortbread for Christmas gifts. This year I find myself in the kitchen as the temperatures in our part of Sydney soar into the high thirties and low forties. (Celsius that is.) Working with butter in extreme heat is tricky but is manageable if you work fast. I do admit to turning on the air-conditioning once the oven starts to warm up. Pecan and vanilla is a winning combination and so far, no-one has complained. (They wouldn’t want to, there’s no saying what an overheated possibly perimenopausal baker might do if offended.)

Christmas isn’t always an easy time. Grief, pressure, depression,ill-health, financial woes and difficult family dynamics don’t just disappear because the calendar tells us it’s December. Terrible things happen at any time of the year and not everyone has it good. With that in mind; whatever you do or don’t bake this Christmas and whatever kind of Christmas you are experiencing, I wish you good tidings, peace and love.


250g butter, room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp vanilla essence
2 3/4 cups plain gluten free flour (for non gluten-free shortbread use the same amount of plain flour)
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 170C.
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and sift the flours and salt together into a bowl.
Cream the butter and add the sugar gradually (I used a mixer), beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla and mix until evenly dispersed.
Work in the flour gradually until the mixture is just combined.
Add the pecans and give the mixture another quick mix.
Knead the mixture lightly in the bowl for a few minutes to bring it together.
Divide the dough in half, roll each half out to a 3-4 cm log. Wrap in clingwrap and refrigerate for half an hour to an hour.
Slice the logs into 1-2 cm thickness, depending on your fancy, place 10mm apart on a baking tray and prick each piece all over with a fork.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp and straw-coloured. (Regular shortbread will be quicker to bake, probably only 15-20 minutes.)
Cool down on wire racks.
Makes about 20-25 pieces.

A Cheergerm Adaptation of a Margaret Fulton recipe.

Cooking Notes: Gluten free shortbread can be delicate creatures so please handle carefully when rolling and cutting. When adding the flour to the mixture, I pop a teatowel over the mixer to stop the flour ‘floofling’ (an exact culinary term) all over the joint.

22 thoughts on “Gluten free pecan and vanilla shortbread

  1. It all looks so delicious Lisa.
    My fondest memories are the long school holidays. Spending all day on my bike with friends exploring the local bush land. Catching lobbies in the creek. Back yard cricket and watching the test matches on TV. Swimming in the surf. Eating everything and anything. Mum’s pavlova with fresh passionfruit and mango. Mmm… Christmas is the best time.

    • Thanks Gary and thanks also for sharing your evocative memories of an Australian Christmas. So different to the Northern hemisphere experience but so authentically our own. We used to go yabbying in local dams as well. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  2. How this made me smile, Lisa. On so many levels…imagining the madness of ovens heating up the house as temperatures soar…the image of kids and sprinklers which is one of the fondest of my childhood. And that doll! Mine was a Skipper doll, no Barbies for this tomboy either. And best of all: my late Mother’s secret ingredient for light shortbread was always rice flour. 🙂 Wishing you a magical Christmas holiday. By the sounds of it, you are well on your way. Grosses bises! xxx

    • Yes, baking in this heat is nuts hey? And running through sprinklers on hot days was the best. I remember seeing Skipper dolls and they were similar to the Sindy, how neat. Shortbread connects us all, over this big wide world and that gives me goosebumps that your Mum added rice flour too. Wishing you and yours a beautiful and chilled Chrissy Mel. Xxx

  3. So, I’m guessing that floofling is much the same as pfluffing…? I’d forgotten how much easier it is to work with weightier wheat flour. As for complaining about your shortbread, perish the thought! It contains all the main food groups: butter, sugar and salt. Perfection in a small but perfectly formed bickie. All else is a bonus. Now that I’m allowed the dreaded G again, I’m indulging in an orgy of bread making, to the extent that I’ve laid hands on a sourdough starter and will be having a crack at that after Chrissy. Having recently made my childhood fantasy food, Lardy Cake, with a yeasted dough, I’m now wondering how it’d go with sourdough. Possibly I will perish from pleasure and go straight to culinary heaven… I’ll let you know!

    • Ha! Yes, it’s a very similar technique Kate….and I totally agree on the basic food groups, yes ma’am! Wow, you are going nuts on the Big G! Enjoy every bite….hope you make it out the other side of Christmas, if I don’t hear from you I will assume you are in a gluten coma…chuckle, snort…Merry Christmas!

  4. How I envy your Christmas description – especially the part about swimming pools! Very cold in Canada’s capital this week and into next. Maybe skating on the Rideau Canal but definitely no pool! I love your felted tree ornaments. Did you make or buy them?

    • The old hemisphere difference can be stark indeed! I love the idea of a white Christmas, I guess how we grew up effects what we perceive Christmas to really ‘feel’ like. I wish I could say I made them but alas, no. They were purchased from a fancy gift store. Cuties aren’t they? Enjoy that ice!

  5. A beautiful post. You’re such a good writer. My daughters, now 31 and 34, absolutely love Christmas time. We were always a little family of four, with no extended family, at least none who cared about us, and so holidays were extra important to me. So even as Millenials, it’s not about the stuff to them. Your children will feel the same way. I just know it! Merry Christmas.

  6. Glad tidings to you too Cheery! 😘 Christmas means so many different things but yours have a strong Aussie voice. To your list add icy cold watermelon dripping down my chin and Christmas Eve Carols bt Candlelight on the TV and you have it in a nutshell for me. Planning to bake this arvo, with aircon, will add your delicious shortbread to the list

    • Beautiful additions Mrs Food, so evocative of our Southern Hemisphere Chrissy. We must be nuts baking in this heat but needs must..hope the kitchen didn’t get too hot! Wishing you and your clan a beautiful and chilled festive season. 😘

      • Happy boxing day Cheery. 😘 These are the most delicious and the best textured shortbread I have ever made and that includes those with wheat flour. Thanks you 🙏🏻 I swapped an extra 1/2 cup of GF flour (I’m no fan of the texture) for more rice flour, which stuffed up the dough but an extra 60g melted butter pulled it together.

      • Happy 27th lovely Mrs R! You have made my day and I am super happy you loved them! 🤗 Ite great that,your recipe experimentation worked a treat. My fave gf blend from Bobs Red Mill, the 1 to 1, is sadly no longer available (argh) but the Orgran Brand has been working pretty well. I tend to muck around with it too especially for everyday baking, trying to add healthier flours into it. Hope it’s not too hot up there!

  7. Merry Christmas, Lisa! It sounds like you have the right attitude – spend more time relaxing with the family (and baking, of course). Hot scorching Christmases do not compute with me – freezing – yes, snow – yes. Whatever the weather, have a wonderful holiday and a peaceful 2018!

  8. Hiya WM… sorry I missed this! Been a bit absentee on the blogging front… did a writers course and then proceeded to freeze up! Ha, the irony! Hope to get back to it soon… how are you doing?

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