The Fresh Loaf

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Ultimate shortbread with rice flour?

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Pain Partout's picture
Pain Partout

Ultimate shortbread with rice flour?

Does anyone know of a recipe for traditional European, or Canadian shortbread using rice flour as part of the mix?  I have an ancient copy of Madame Benoit Cooks at Home, from the time (mannny years ago) when we lived in Quebec, Canada.  A rice flour addition gives her shortbread  "crunch", as well as extra "depth", if made in advance.

From other generous cooks, over years, ...I have also been told that shortbread was a treat that should be "tinned/aged", and would actually benefit from a relatively-brief storage.  This also frees up the holiday cook to make other goodies.

I could certainly use that well as others on this forum?

Is there such a thing as good shortbread, made with rice flour?  Other ideas?

jemar's picture

The recipe I use, from a friend in Scotland, and which makes the most delicious shortbread better than any other I have tasted, uses 200g rice flour to 450g of plain flour. It definitely gives the biscuits a nice crunch but they are still 'melt in the mouth' consistency.  Delicious! 

sheffield's picture
sheffield (not verified)

I just searched google and found pages of recipes for shortbread that contains rice flour.

RHjorth's picture


I normally replaces 1/4 of the flour with rice flour to have a more light shortbread

However I don think that the shortbread should be aged since one of the great things with this treat is the large amount of good butter :)

PaddyL's picture

The two best recipes I use, one from my mother, use rice flour as part of the flour, and these cookies are the best I have ever tasted.  If you go by Jehane Benoit's recipe, you can't lose.

EvaB's picture

it just gets better with age, its actually cultured when its aged!

The shortbread also contains goodly amounts of sugar which preserves the cookie, you age in an air tight tin, and I have some that I bought (yes bought) last year still in the tin in plastic overwrap that are just fine this year.

I personally am not a big fan of shortbread although its tasty, I like whipped shortbread which is beaten until its fluffy like whipped cream, no rice flour but it certainly could be put into it I'm sure. The whippped stuff never lasts long enough to age, so have no idea how well it ages, all I know is it melts in your mouth, and I still don't eat more than two in the season.

Pain Partout's picture
Pain Partout

For the few members who typed in about using rice flour and ageing shortbread, I am sorry to not have typed back.  Thanksgiving reared its turkey head, stalling comments.

Jemar, thanks for offering a precise rice flour to wheat flour amounts.  This is a higher percentage of rice flour, which should give a nice "crackle" to the rich cookie. 

One quarter rice flour, RHjorth is still more than what is in Madame Benoit's recipe, but hers doesn't seem to come out as good as some of the authentic Scotch shortbread that we originally bought in Canada. (Do you have to be a Scott to make top notch shortbread?) one here in the states seems to have ever heard of Mme. Jehane Benoit. You must be Canadian?  I agree with you on most of her recipes.  The spine of my book is getting weak from all of the years that I have used it for various "referrals" on technique, and excellent recipes, over many years.  Have a useful, personally-signed, lamb cookery booklet from her.  I continue to cook my Thanksgiving birds according to her wisdom.  But her shortbread recipe is not quite as good as I had hoped.

Have another oldie, clipped from the Vancouver Sun newspaper.  It is a totally different recipe that uses confectioners sugar and cornstarch, but not a drop of rice flour.  Madame Benoit recommended "Castor-type"/fine sugar.  Even with the cornstarch, the resultant "Vancouver cookie" does not have that wonderful "crunch & depth", when stored.

How many of your GREAT recipes use either cornstarch, or confectioner's sugar?  There are obviously many, many, ways to replicate (Scottish?) shortbread.

EvaB, you have the tinned shortbread that I am hoping to duplicate. 

I am trying to find a few excellent baked goodies that will withstand some storage without going downhill.  I am slated to have surgery done on my right wrist in slightly more than a week.  This will put a serious damper on holiday baking, as I can't do crappe with my left hand. The kitchen would be very messy!  

I am making oodles of small chocolate/cherry fruitcakes, but hope to have some further go-alongs for gifts.

Thanks, all, for your comments.















PaddyL's picture

I've even got a huge book of Jehane Benoit's, all in French, a sort of compendium of her Library of Canadian Cooking which was put out in several volumes in English.  And I have a signed copy of one of her books.  I was surprised to see her recipe for shortbread, because it's so like the one my mother used to make every Christmas.

EvaB's picture

a good keeper, and the secret is to keep it tightly closed and in a cool spot, which means not in the top cupboards of kitchens centrally heated, since the heat is higher than the cool.

I have never tried it with rice flour, but expect you could take the cornstarch box recipe (every box of cornstarch I've ever seen has a recipe) and substitute the rice flour for the cornstarch, if you use confectioners sugar or icing sugar you get a certain amount of cornstarch anyway as its in the sugar to prevent caking.

I personally shall be trying the rice flour, as I am not into corn anything, and don't use it for sauces even, I use arrowroot powder or tapioca starch instead. I migt eat more than one which might be bad for me! LOL

If you want extra fine sugar, just put the sugar into a food processor and whiz until its finer particles than the regular sugar, I use berry sugar most of the time, which is a pain, as its only sold in kilo packages here in BC.

Pain Partout's picture
Pain Partout

Thanks, EvaB for your comments.  My mother made the cornstarch cookies nearly every Christmas. Was the standard recipe on the old boxes of Argo cornstarch.  They were not stored, so I don't know their "longevity".  ?

Good comment on the confectioners sugar. It does have small amounts of cornstarch as part of its makeup.

It has been a long time since I have used cornstarch.  Like you, I use Arrowroot as a thickener. I have also used tapioca starch.  I use rice flour for coating bannetons, and in a batter for the occasional quick deep fry of shrimp, chicken, etc., so also always have this on hand.

I remember the berry sugar in Canada.  No such thing here, but I have bought C & H Baker's Sugar here, which is a fine granulate. I only use it at holidays, but don't worry about buying a larger volume. Granulated sucre (sugar) seems to last forever.

EvaB's picture

on the fact that original shortbreads were made with a percentage of oat flour instead of exotic flour like rice, or cornstarch, I highly doubt that if you used any other flour in the mix it would actually hurt the biscuit, its simply what one is used to in taste, since cornstarch is a recent (relatively, around 1890-1920 I think) item in the cook's pantry, along with the ubiquitis Karo corn syrup etc, and they have been making shortbreads for probably at least 100 years before that, the obvious thing is they used something else! Oat flour is very much like rice flour, slippery and silky, and since its actually used to bind the butter and regular flour together, it simply a stabelizer, of course when white flour (bran sifted out) became more common and sought after as a status symbol (only the rich had white bread and cakes and so forth) then you would have had to sift the oat flour, and by then the rice which had the bran polished off would have looked great, and be ground and used as an extender, stabelizer and you probably could buy rice cheaper than white wheat flour.

I would say use the old recipe, and just add the rice flour, oat flour or whatever to the recipe and enjoy, it might not taste exactly the same but then again it might be better.