bien cuit

Bredele biscuits – traditional Christmas cookies

cookies, French | December 4, 2017 | By

Last year, just before Christmas, the lovely Cécile from the wonderful website Because Gus, asked me if I’d like to collaborate with a producer of GF flour here in France, to produce a recipe for gluten free bredele. These are the classic small cut-out biscuits that you traditionally see in the east of France, in the Alsace region, during Advent. There are hundreds of varieties and the Christmas markets are full of beautiful tiny cutters for them.

I am fortunate to have a wonderfully kind French friend, Catherine, who is an expert in bredele, making hundreds of them every year in every shape imaginable – from snowflakes to reindeer! She immediately helped me find a basic recipe which I then converted to gluten free. Then the nerve-wracking experience of transporting 400 fragile cookies to Paris on the metro! But it was all worth it – the recipe went down a storm with all the participants of the Because Gus Christmas party. One gentleman went so far as to say it was the best GF biscuit he had ever eaten!

The main thing with this recipe is to keep the dough cold. Roll it out between cling film to avoid adding flour to stop the rolling pin stick. Extra flour will dry your biscuits out – just what you need to avoid with GF baking!

Keep the mixture cold all the time – if necessary pop the rolled out dough, still between its clingfilm back into the fridge on a tray and let it firm up before cutting the shapes out. And to help them keep their beautiful shapes, remember to put the tray back into the fridge so the biscuits are cold right before you bake them.

And one last thing – if you are using your own blend of flour, or a ready made mix, then check whether it contains xanthan gum – if so, you can omit the half teaspoon I include in the ingredients.

Gluten free bredele – cut out Christmas cookies

250g my flour blend
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
125g icing sugar
1/2 tsp GF baking powder
150g unsalted butter, softened at room temp
1 small egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt

optional: beaten egg to glaze before baking

  1. Sieve the flour, icing sugar and baking powder together into a bowl
  2. Add the softened butter and rub it into the flour with your finger tips until it looks sandy.
  3. In a small bowl mix together the egg, vanilla and salt.
  4. Add the liquid mixture to bowl with the flour and mix well together – the mixture will be quite soft.
  5. Form into a ball, flatten it then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for an hour.
  6. Roll the dough out between 2 sheets of cling film to about 4mm thickness. If the dough becomes too so then place it (rolled out) back into the fridge on a tray to firm up.
  7. Cut out the biscuits using shaped cookie cutters, and place on a baking sheet covered with baking parchment.
  8. Put back in the fridge for 30 mins while preheating the oven to 180C (160C Fan). Brush with beaten egg if desired and then bake for 10-15 mins until golden (timing will depend on your oven and the thickness of the cookies, so keep an eye on them!).
  9. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for a minute or two before placing them on a cooling rack. They can be quite fragile so handle them carefully.

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