Love Custard Creams? Here’s an EPIC gluten free recipe for this iconic biscuit. Also nut free, egg free optional dairy free/vegan.
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DON’T LOSE THIS RECIPE! PIN Custard Creams FOR LATER…
Custard Creams – A gluten free recipe developed for you
This gluten free Custard Creams recipe is for you. When I asked on Facebook and Instagram ‘What biscuit would you want to make without gluten?’, the hands-down most requested biscuit was ‘custard creams’.
You asked and I created! A custard cream recipe to rival all others. Two days of development and four variants… Each better than the last until I was happy. And I AM happy. Actually, I’m really thrilled that I can share this recipe with you. Not only does it look fantastic, but it tastes exactly as it should. Custardy, creamy-sweet and totally melt-in-the-mouth, yet with a great snap too.
I really hope you like it as much as we do.
Britain’s favourite biscuits
I was really fascinated that so many of you wanted a gluten free custard creams recipe. And it got me wondering ‘what are Britain’s favourite biscuits?’. So, I checked it out!
Amazingly, there was a survey in 2020 of 2000 people. And guess what? Custard Creams were listed at number 6 in the favourites chart. But it has been even higher in the rankings. Back in 2007, another survey of 7,000 Brits ranked it as the number 1 UK favourite, with 9 out of 10 naming the humble custard cream top of the biscuit table.
Whether you believe ‘pop surveys’ or not, it seems you guys are not alone in your love of this traditional creamy-yellow sandwich biscuit.
UK’s Favourite gluten free biscuits at Gluten Free Alchemist
If Custard Creams are at number 6, what other biscuits in the list have we already made gluten free at Gluten Free Alchemist?
Well, it seems we have a way to go (although to be fair, there are a few reasonable commercial GF substitutes for some of Britain’s favourites). But let’s take a look at the biscuits we have worked on from the top 20 to see what we can offer by way of alternative recipes…
No. 2. Shortbread – I’ve been incredibly disappointed by commercial gluten free shortbread. It’s mostly gritty and ‘ricey’ in texture, when it should be creamy-sweet. But being one of my favourites, I have created two shortbread options… both of which are amazing. We have a gluten free Almond Shortbread and also a popular Maple Shortbread.
No. 4. Jaffa Cake – We have Mixed Berry Jaffa Cakes on the blog, but it’s definitely on the list for an upgrade and orange version.
No. 6. Custard Cream – Here it is!!
No. 9. Bourbon Biscuits – Rich and deep with Cocoa and filled with chocolate-custard buttercream. Our Bourbon Biscuit Recipe is also optional dairy free and vegan
No. 12. Viennese Whirl – Oh yes. Definitely a favourite at Gluten Free Alchemist. Our gluten free Viennese Whirls recipe is melt-in-the-mouth delicious and hard to tell apart from its glutenous cousin. We’ve also created Viennese Fingers which are very moreish and will be posted soon.
No. 14. Ginger Nut – Okay. So, I’ve not created a copycat gingernut, but there is an amazing recipe for Ginger Biscuits which have a similar crunch and texture. If you are a lover of ginger biscuits and cookies, we can also tempt you with the most incredible German Gingerbread Cookies and also some perfectly textured and spiced Lebkuchen. For structural bakes, the Gingerbread used for our Christmas Gingerbread House is yummy too.
The history of Custard Creams and its very particular design
Custard creams are iconically British. Said to have originated in England in the early 1900s, they are a creation of the Victorian era. Loved for their unmistakable flavour as much as their crisp ‘snap’, they are also instantly recognisable from their imprinted pattern. But why do they have it?
Well, apparently the design is linked to a Victorian fascination with ferns (a craze that was called ‘pteridomania’ (fern-madness)). The Victorian Brits loved the humble fern so much that it came to be represented across Victorian life… From crockery and chamber pots, to rugs, benches and architecture. And… you guessed it, the design of the Custard Cream Biscuit. And if that isn’t enough to recognise it, the biscuit is also ‘engraved’ with its name.
Custard creams quickly became the perfect pairing for an afternoon cuppa. Although dunking remains optional.
Are Custard Creams dangerous?
My research into custard creams raised an interesting question… Are these biscuits dangerous? What? I hear you ask.
Well, it would seem there is more risk to eating them than the obvious possible consumption of excessive calories. According to a survey widely reported in 2009, custard creams are not only a favourite amongst Brits, but are also our most dangerous biscuit.
The study undertaken by Mindlab International suggested an estimated 25 million Brits had been injured by biscuits, with Custard Creams earning the highest ‘risk rating’. Among the list of ‘biscuit risks’? Scalding from dunking and choking remain significant, with broken teeth not far behind. There’s even a substantial risk of falls when reaching for the sweet treat and foot injuries as a result of dropped biscuit tins.
Apparently, around 500 people a year rock up at hospital for treatment due to biscuit injuries.
I’m actually thinking it’s a little unfair to blame the biscuits and I’m guessing even the injured may recognise their own behaviour in their plight. But either way, beware.
Are gluten free Custard Creams easy to make?
Absolutely yes. These biscuits are a one-bowl, mix together, mould and bake job. The dough will be stiff and rollable/mouldable and it should hold its shape on baking.
But why make them at home at all? Well, if you have eaten shop-bought gluten free custard creams, you will know they are not always quite as they should be. Often over-sweetened, gritty, ‘ricey’ and over-hard. Making this recipe will give you melt-in-the-mouth deliciousness with almost zero risk of broken teeth, but still the option of a good dunk.
As with most gluten free biscuits that have a defined pattern, I usually chill the dough either in the fridge or freezer before baking. Although to be honest, I’m not sure it’s necessary with these.
How do I get the traditional pattern on the biscuit?
Okay… I’ll come clean… I didn’t spend hours carefully engraving each biscuit. If you want the traditional custard cream pattern on your biscuits, then you’ll need to invest in a custard cream mould. Mine came in a set of 4 cutters (including moulds for Bourbons and Jammy Dodgers) made by Dexam.
It’s a great little gadget though. Providing the biscuit dough is made to hold its shape (mine has been worked and tested), it’s not only effective, but fun as well. Simply part-fill the mould and spread roughly-evenly. Then… gently hold the ‘pusher’ down on the dough for a few seconds (against some baking paper on a hard surface) to ensure a good imprint. Finally, push out the moulded biscuit dough (jiggling a bit) to drop onto a baking tray. To prevent sticking, I very lightly floured the cutter every couple of biscuits, brushing off any dough build-up as I went.
Of course, you don’t have to make custard creams with a mould (although they do look fabulous). You can simply roll the dough to about ¾ cm and cut with any biscuit cutter. Using an embossed rolling pin will add to the textured effect. I have one made by Pastry Made which I love. It was used for my Maple Shortbread. But there are plenty of other embossed rolling pins on Amazon. Just be sure to lightly dust the pin or dough before rolling to prevent sticking.
Can I make gluten free Custard Creams dairy free and vegan?
In addition to being gluten free, this recipe is also egg free and nut free.
Although I used butter when creating the original recipe, this can be easily substituted for a good dairy free-vegan alternative to make the biscuits both vegan and dairy free. I have tested it on your behalf (well… needs must) using Stork Baking Block and the result was good. You may need to knead the dough a little more to bring it together and it will help to add a tiny amount of DF milk to loosen the dough, but otherwise the biscuits baked well. They were a little firmer, but nonetheless very yummy.
What flour should I use?
I used my Gluten Free Alchemist home-mixed Blend A to make these custard creams. But any good white alternative flour blend (such as Doves Freee plain white) should be good. Make absolutely sure the flour blend you use is NOT self-raising or you will lose any pattern that you’ve taken the time to create. And I would recommend using a WHITE flour blend. Anything wholegrain that uses darker flours will ‘discolour’ the biscuits and (depending on what flours the blend contains) may also take away some of the crunch.
Ready to whip up some gluten free Custard Creams?
Raring to give gluten free Custard Creams a go? Let me know how you get on. We’ve managed to get through 5 batches of them this week, and I’m still not bored. So, they must be good.
Leave a comment, or tag me on social media (links at the top) with your biscuit-bakes. #glutenfreealchemist
Custard Creams – gluten free
- Kitchen scales
- Baking tray
- baking paper
- Mixing bowls
- electric whisk
- Large mixing spoon or spatula
- custard cream mould or rolling pin and biscuit cutter
- table/butter knife
- 120 g gluten free plain WHITE flour blend I use GFA Blend A – See NOTES
- 60 g GF custard powder DF/Vegan if required
- ¼ tsp xanthan gum
- pinch fine sea salt
- 60 g caster sugar
- 110 g unsalted butter (or good DF alternative) softened (see NOTES)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 120 g unsalted butter (or good DF alternative) softened
- 180 g icing sugar (powdered confectioners sugar)
- 30 g custard powder DF/Vegan if required
Make the biscuit dough
- Prepare a large baking tray by lining with good-quality non-stick baking paper.
- In a smallish bowl, weigh and mix together the flour, custard powder, xanthan gum and salt and stir well to blend. Set aside.
- In a larger bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light, pale and smooth. This is easiest with an electric whisk.
- Gradually add and beat in the dry mix (about a quarter at a time) until well blended and the dough starts to come together. If making a dairy free/vegan version, it will help to add ½ to 1 tbsp of DF milk at this point to support binding and to add extra lightness to the dough. This is NOT necessary if making with dairy butter.
- Work the dough into an even, smooth block using a firm mixing spoon or spatula.
Using a Custard Cream Mould
- If using a Custard Cream mould, very lightly dust the surface with flour.
- Use a flat butter knife to transfer about a teaspoon of biscuit dough into the mould and spread roughly-evenly.
- Place the mould against a piece of baking paper on a firm surface and push down reasonably firmly on the plunger for a few seconds to even out the dough and ensure a good imprint.
- Push and gently 'shake' the moulded biscuit out onto the prepared baking tray. Each biscuit should be about ¾ cm in depth. If too thick or thin, adjust the amount of dough added to the mould (until you find a happy point) and re-use the dough of any biscuits you are unhappy with. It may help to part-push up the mould plunger to see how thick the biscuit will be and scrape of excess dough with a flat knife before plunging.
- Repeat the process of dusting, filling and moulding for all the dough.
Rolling and cutting the dough by hand
- If you are not using a mould, place the dough on a piece of baking paper very lightly dusted with flour and lightly dust the dough top.
- Carefully roll the dough to a thickness of about ¾ cm (if you want a pattern, use an embossed rolling pin).
- Cut the cookies into biscuit shapes using a cookie cutter.
- Carefully transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
- Repeat the process, bringing any remaining dough back together until all the dough has been used. Try not to add too much flour or excessively work the dough.
Chill the dough
- Place the tray of dough biscuits in the fridge for about 20 minutes to chill, or alternatively in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- When the biscuits have chilled, rearrange on the tray if necessary to space evenly.
Baking the biscuits
- Bake the biscuits for 12 to 14 minutes until golden and just starting to darken slightly at the edges.
- Once cooked and for the best crunch – When baked, turn off the oven, open the door to cool slightly and then leave the biscuits in the oven to cool as the oven cools. If taking out of the oven immediately, leave on the baking tray to cool completely.
- In a medium to large bowl, beat the softened butter until light, pale and smooth.
- Gradually add the icing sugar and custard powder and beat through until smooth and creamy.
Sandwich the biscuits together
- To sandwich the biscuits into Custard Creams, pair the biscuits.
- Take one biscuit from each pair and spread a generous dollop of buttercream across the surface (making sure the pattern is on the outer side).
- Sandwich with its biscuit pair and gently push together.
- For a neat effect, use a chopstick or small rounded fondant tool to scrape any excess buttercream from the sides of each biscuit.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Will stay fresh for at least a week.
Gluten Free Custard Creams shared with :
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- Blogger’s Pit Stop #242
- Full Plate Thursday #505 with Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
- Cook Blog Share with Apply to Face Blog
- The Great Cookie Exchange with The Lazy Gastronome
- Over The Moon #246 with Eclectic Red Barn and Marilyn’s Treats
- Senior Salon #132 with Esme Salon and Kim’s DIY Tribe
- Vintage Charm Party #253 with Our Hopeful Home
- Creative Muster #406 with Fluster Buster