My Gluten Free Party Rings are a British childhood classic… Ring-shaped biscuits topped with colourful icing, they are fun to make, taste amazing and are sure to bring smiles. Optional dairy free.
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Gluten Free Party Rings – Childhood in colour
Pretty huh? My Gluten Free Party Rings are the best biscuit-making fun I’ve had in ages! But whether making them for grown-up kids or gluten free little ones who have never tried one, they are as delicious as they are eye-catching… They’ll take you straight back to childhood. And we all need a little nostalgia in our lives right?
I don’t know about you, but for me, Party Rings are a fundamental childhood memory… Birthday parties with plates of pretty pastel rings and lots of grabbing hands. But gluten free Party Rings are not something that are available to buy… yet! So, it’s time to relive that history (and to give Coeliac and gluten free kids a chance to have some fun too) with these colourful icons of the British Biscuit world!
Even better… Because you’re making them at home, you can make them any size and ANY colour you choose. And without doubt… they’ll taste better than you remember and no one will ever guess they’re gluten free! You can even use them to make a colourful Gluten Free Party Ring Cake. Perfect for birthdays 🎈
What are Party Rings?
Party Rings are British icons… way up there in the list of the UK’s favourite biscuits! First made by Fox’s Biscuits back in 1983, no self-respecting children’s party was complete without them. And you can understand why… A magnet for temptation, these ring-shaped shortbread biscuits topped with crisp ‘feathered’ two-coloured icing are as fun as they are alluring. Am I the only one to have nibbled the edges with my finger poked through the hole?
Are Gluten Free Party Rings easy to make?
Absolutely! If I can make them, anyone can… I am absolutely hopeless with a piping nozzle. So if I can do it, you can too…
The biscuit dough is a straightforward one-bowl mix… And providing it is chilled before rolling out, it’s easy to cut into Party Ring shapes.
Although the icing can be a little messy, this just makes it more fun! And at the end of the day, whether the lines are actually ‘feathered’ is irrelevant… Because the biscuits taste amazing and honestly, no one cares about perfection as long as they’re iced and colourful.
Ingredients to make Gluten Free Party Rings
The dough for making Gluten Free Party Rings is a fairly standard biscuit recipe. But I have developed it for the best texture and shape consistency I can muster. Here’s what you’ll need and why and any key substitution options…
Gluten Free Flour Blend
I’ve tested my base gluten free Party Ring biscuits recipe with several flour blends. So I am happy that it is pretty versatile. Thus, while I used my Gluten Free Alchemist home-mixed white Blend A (recipe at the bottom of my Gluten Free Flours and Flour Blending Page), they should work just as well with any other good gluten free blend, including Doves Freee plain white flour. Using white flour keeps the base cookies as light as possible in colour. But either way, make sure the flour is plain (NOT self-raising) to ensure the right crunch and texture.
For the best Party Ring cookie texture (and after several tests), I added a small amount of additional tapioca starch to the mix. This ‘tempers’ any rice flour ‘grittiness’ from the main blend. I did test corn starch as an alternative, but found that this made the biscuits too ‘powdery’.
However… if you are happy with grainier biscuits, I have also tested the recipe with ‘all gluten free flour blend’ and it worked fine. Simply add together the two weight amounts (blend + tapioca starch) and measure out the whole amount as your main flour blend.
Xanthan Gum in Party Rings
I initially wanted to avoid the use of xanthan gum in my Party Rings. But I also wanted to keep the recipe simple in terms of the flour blend. In the end, I made a decision to add the tiniest amount of xanthan gum to the dough, as it made a huge difference in ensuring the shape of the biscuits was maintained (ie to avoid any spreading in the oven).
While I did try adding additional flour as an alternative (and altering the ratios of ingredients slightly), doing so just changed the biscuit texture to something that wasn’t right… So the xanthan gum won!
If you can’t tolerate xanthan gum, you could try using ground psyllium husk instead (at double the amount – ½ tsp instead of ¼). Although it’s not something I have personally tested.
I used white caster sugar to maintain a pale cookie colour. However golden caster sugar is also fine to use. If you live in North America, I believe our caster sugar is equivalent to ‘superfine’ sugar or use your granulated sugar (which is apparently finer than we have in the UK).
Butter for making gluten free Party Ring biscuits (and making them Dairy Free)
I always use unsalted block butter when I bake, as it ensures complete control over flavour and saltiness. If using salted butter, leave out the additional suggested ‘pinch of salt’ from the recipe. Do not use ‘spreadable butter’ as the additives may cause the biscuits to ‘spread’ in the oven. But do ensure the butter is softened to room temperature before creaming with the sugar!
Using a Dairy Free alternative is absolutely fine, but make sure it is also a BLOCK variety. In the UK, I use Stork Vegan Baking Block. However, Flora Plant Butter, which comes in salted and unsalted forms is also an option.
I used 1 UK large egg to make the gluten free biscuit dough recipe shared here. The egg offers binding and structure to the cookies and supports the specific texture wanted for Party Rings.
However… If you are either unable to eat eggs or are Vegan, then there’s no need to miss out. My alternative egg free, dairy free recipe for Jammie Dodger Biscuits will also work really well for making Vegan Party Rings.
The vanilla has been added for depth of flavour in the biscuit base. But I also tested the recipe with lemon and also almond extract. So feel free to play with different flavours. Or indeed, to leave out the extract altogether!
Cutting the gluten free dough to make Party Rings
When it comes to rolling and shaping the dough for Party Rings, you’ll need a rolling pin and something to cut out circles.
The rolling pin is straightforward… But make sure the work surface and the top of the dough are lightly floured to prevent the dough sticking!
In terms of cookie cutters, I used a basic round cookie cutter about 6 cm in diameter for the larger circle. (But remember… YOU get to choose how big your Party Rings will be… because they’re homemade).
For the inner circle, I couldn’t find a cookie cutter small enough. In the end, I improvised with the base of a small piping nozzle… It was a little slippery to hold, so eventually, I stuck a bit of sellotape to the side as a ‘handle’ (to lift it off the dough). It honestly doesn’t matter what you use to make the hole however, as long as it’s the right size to make a ‘ring’ that still has plenty of biscuit! The lid of a small bottle will work equally well.
Making the Icing for decorating Party Rings
Apart from getting to choose the colours for your Party Rings, the most important thing when making the icing is to ensure it’s thick enough! If you mix in too much liquid, the icing will be runny and thin on the biscuits.
So… Make sure you add the water literally A DROP at a time and then mix and check the consistency before adding any more. The consistency needs to be not too runny, but still spreadable.
If possible use GEL food colourings, as these are super-concentrated and won’t add extra liquid to the mix. I use Wilton Gel Icing Colours. If you only have liquid colour, add this first (BEFORE any water) so that you have better control over the icing thickness.
If you do add too much liquid however, don’t panic. Simply add a little more icing sugar to re-thicken the mix.
Oh… And use boiling hot water when making the icing. It dissolves the icing sugar (confectioners/powdered sugar) super-quick and ensures there are no lumps. Just make sure you pour it from a small jug so that you can add it to the bowl drop by drop. Pouring a ‘drop’ direct from the kettle is almost impossible!
How to ice Gluten Free Party Rings
There are a few options for the process of icing Party Rings…
Main icing colour…
For the base colour, you can either dip the biscuit in the icing, or spread the icing on the biscuit (to the edges) using a flat knife or teaspoon. I personally prefer the second option, not least because it’s less messy… And spreading gives me more control. But the choice is yours!
‘Feathering’ is the name given to a particular type of icing decoration… Where a cocktail stick is dragged cross-ways through top-layered lines of icing to create a feather-like design. It’s effective and both easy and fun to do. If my description isn’t clear, I found these simple photos that might explain it better. Obviously, for Party Rings, the icing lines are thinner and closer together!
It’s easiest to pipe the lines with either Squeezy Piping Bottles (which is what I use). Or by a small piping bag… Both need a very small round piping nozzle attached. Make sure the icing is just loose enough to pipe and drag. And work with one colour at a time for simplicity. This also means you can wash out the piping bottle (if using) between colours.
Whichever methods you choose though, be sure to work quickly, so that the icing is feathered before it gets ‘crusty’.
Allowing the icing to set
Once your gluten free Party Rings are fully iced, they need to be left to set. Of course, it’s fine to scoff a few while the icing is still soft… Who wouldn’t?! However, stacking them before the icing is properly set will result in squished icing and biscuits which are stuck together.
Be patient with this… Dependent on warmth, climate and the wetness of the icing used, drying them can take anything from a couple of hours to all night!
How to store Gluten Free Party Rings
Once the icing has hardened, your Party Rings should be stored in an airtight container. They should stay fresh for 3 to 4 days after which they may start to soften a little. Nonetheless, they will still be good to eat for a week or so.
Ready to make pretty Party Rings?
And that’s all you need to know (I think). If you have any other questions feel free to get in touch and I’ll do my best to work it out with you. You can leave a comment at the bottom of the post. Or you can email or message me on social media… (Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest (@glutenfreealchemist)).
Either way, I hope you love my Gluten Free Party Rings. Let me know if you make them. And if you take any photos, I’d love to see them too. Don’t forget to tag me on social media!
If you’re looking for other recipes, we also have a special Gluten Free Cookies & Biscuits Index. Why not take a look? And please let me know if there’s anything not there that you miss. Who knows… We might just be able to make them gluten free!
Here are a few more iconic British biscuit links (ALL gluten free) to tempt you…
- Bourbon Biscuits
- Viennese Whirls
- Ginger Biscuits (like Ginger Nuts)
- Scottish Shortbread ‘Petticoat Tails’
- Jammie Dodgers
- Custard Creams
- Viennese Fingers
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits
- Jaffa Cakes
- Mini Cheddars
And for everything else, the main Gluten Free Recipe Index is the place to start your gluten free baking journey…
All shared with my love… for FREE
Gluten Free Party Rings Biscuits
- cookie cutter(s)
- cocktail sticks
- 220 g white gluten free plain flour blend I use GFA blend A – See NOTES
- 20 g tapioca starch
- ¼ tsp xanthan gum
- pinch fine sea salt
- 100 g white caster sugar
- 100 g unsalted butter – softened (or dairy free block alternative)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (or lemon extract or other alternative)
- 1 egg (liquid weight around 54g) UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’)
- 300 g icing sugar (powdered/confectioners sugar)
- TINY drop boiling water
- GEL food colours of choice (if using liquid, don’t add the water until the colours are in)
- Line a couple of large baking trays with baking paper.
- Weigh and mix together the flours, xanthan gum and salt until evenly combined with no lumps (Tip: weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously) – Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth, light and creamy. This can be done with a hand mixer or using a firm wooden/silicone spoon.
- Add the vanilla extract and egg and mix well together BY HAND with a wooden/silicone spoon, until fully blended.
- Add the dry ingredients and continue to mix BY HAND until the mixture becomes an even, smooth dough.
- Bring the dough together into a ball and place it in the fridge to chill for about half an hour (this will make it easier to roll without stickiness).
- Once chilled, roll out the dough (using a rolling pin) on a lightly floured sheet of baking paper/work surface to a thickness of about 5 to 6 mm. Very lightly dust the top of the dough to prevent the pin from sticking and also lift the dough occasionally to prevent it sticking underneath. It may be easier to work with half of the dough at a time, to ensure it remains cool.
- Use a round cookie cutter to cut the dough into shapes (about 6 cm in diameter/across is good, but the size is flexible).
- Use a very small round cutter or the round end of a small piping nozzle to cut out circles from the centre of each of the cookies. Using a palette knife transfer the cookie dough shapes to the baking trays as they are cut, leaving a gap of a couple of centimetres between each.
- Bring together, re-roll and shape the off-cuts and remaining dough by the same process until all the dough has been used. If the dough becomes too sticky at any point, pop it back in the fridge to chill.
- Place the trays with the cut dough cookies in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes before baking. This will help to prevent any unexpected ‘spreading’.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 170 C (325 F).
- Bake the biscuits for about 10 to 14 minutes until they are becoming golden at the edges, but not brown. Trays placed at the bottom of the oven may need a couple of minutes longer.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and leave on the baking trays for 10 to 15 minutes to cool, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Icing the Party Rings
- When ready to ice the Party Rings, ensure you have all the equipment needed ready (a small bowl for each colour of icing being used (3 is perfect for mixing and matching colours and feathers); wire rack, squeezy icing/piping bottles or piping bag and small nozzle; cocktail sticks (for feathering).
- Weigh the icing sugar into one of the bowls (if the icing sugar is very clumpy, then it should be sieved).
- Add a TINY drop of boiling water (less than a teaspoon at a time to allow the greatest control over thickness) and mix with a spoon or fork until the icing is smooth and very thick in consistency (not too runny, but still spreadable).
- Divide the white icing between each bowl (for the number of colours that are needed – 3 is perfect).
- Use a TINY amount of food colour gel to colour each bowl of icing and mix well until even (eg. pink, purple, yellow).
- Working quite quickly, use a flat knife to spread the icing across the surface of each of the biscuits. (Spreading gives better control and is less messy than dunking, but if it’s easier for you to dunk, then that’s fine). Set each biscuit aside on the wire rack as it is iced.
- Before the icing ‘crusts’ on the top, use a squeezy icing/piping bottle (or a piping bag fitted with a very small round nozzle) to pipe thin lines of contrasting coloured icing across the top of each biscuit. It helps to do this one colour at a time.
- Using a clean cocktail stick, drag it through the icing lines (cross-ways/opposite direction) to create a ‘feathered’ look.
- Set the Party Rings aside on the wire rack to set completely (the time will depend on the wetness of the icing as well as temperature and humidity).
- When completely dry, store in an airtight container.
- The Party Rings should stay fresh for 3 to 4 days after which they will start to soften a little, although will still be good to eat for 1 to 2 weeks.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist