Custard creams are a British classic. Indeed, they’re the nation’s favourite biscuit, but it can be hard to get gluten-free ones. Cue the Honeybuns gluten-free baking cookbook. It has a recipe for crunchy, sweet and buttery gluten-free custard creams filled with vanilla custard buttercream. Read on to find out more about this fabulous book and for the recipe.
For those not in the know, Honeybuns is a gluten free bakery selling all types of cakes and biscuits throughout the UK. Established by the appropriately named Emma Goss-Custard in Oxford in 1998, Honeybuns has moved from a lone bicycle delivering homemade cakes, to a company employing twenty five people.
It’s now located at Naish Farm in Dorset, where a nature reserve has taken the place of conventional agricultural activities and the farm buildings have been converted into a bakery. An old chicken shed now houses the Bee Shack cafe, which claims to serve the best gluten free cream tea in Dorset. Canny punters head there to get their fix. For those keen to try this exclusive experience, make sure you turn up on the first Saturday of every month. That’s the only day it’s open.
The Honeybuns website is quirky and fun and features a blog, a web cam of Joaney the donkey as well as the promotion of Bee Green and local produce. It also has an online shop available if you are unable to source their products locally.
Honeybuns Gluten-Free Baking
The Honeybuns gluten-free baking cookbook is equally quirky and reflects Emma’s ethos of caring about good quality food, the environment and the local community. The first thing I noticed when I opened the book, was a little box accompanying each recipe stating what you can compost. You can, for example throw eggshells, tea bags and orange from the delightfully named Bumble Barrow fruit cake, into your compost bin.
I have to say I fell in love with this book the moment I saw it. Written by Emma, it has its own style. It’s homely and based on real life experience but with a modern twist. I liked the look and feel of the book with its robust hardback cover featuring not only a scrumptious looking cake, but also a Cornishware jug.
The pages are well laid out with clearly written instructions. Tips and alternative ways of doing things are scattered throughout. The accompanying photographs made me want to set to immediately with my trusty bowl and wooden spoon or better still grab a fork and get stuck in.
In keeping with the rest of the homely nature of the book, the pictures are not highly styled and have a mat finish which appeals to me. Some of the pictures featured a number of vintage tea plates, which I’m now coveting.
Although there are plenty of pictures, not all of the recipes have one, a common but disappointing feature of many cookery books these days. Pages are, however, enlivened with little sketches, such as cups, teapots, jugs and bees.
The book starts with the Honeybuns story and goes on to describe gluten free baking and what different ingredients and techniques are needed. It’s then divided into seven specific chapters relating to a different type of bake. These are: cakes, muffins, traybakes, brownies & other chocolatey things, flapjacks, cookies & biscuits and puddings. It finishes with a list of gluten free storcupboard ingredients and where you might be able to buy them.
Unsurprisingly, the chapter on brownies and other chocolatey things drew me in rather quickly. I might even have, err, jumped directly to it. And no regrets, there was plenty there to keep me interested, including two types of brownies, some chocolate and prune cakes topped by chocolate dipped prunes, a chilli chocolate cake and double chocolate and raspberry tartlets.
Each recipe features an introduction, which gives a bit of background to the recipe and mentions any specific health benefits the featured ingredients might have. We’re told, for example, that the toffee-topped almond and rhubarb cake contains vitamins A and C from the rhubarb. Many of the recipes are also dairy free.
The ingredients used are not just a mere substitution of gluten free flour for wheat flour, the recipes are interesting, appealing and worthy in their own right. Ground almonds, ground hazelnuts, polenta and gluten free oats are the main ingredients used, although you can find linseed, sorghum, tapioca and rice flours in some recipes.
Any pre-conceived ideas of what gluten free cooking is like should be abandoned. Because there’s no hardship or deprivation to be found here.
How To Make Gluten-Free Custard Creams
So, out came my trusty bowl and spoon and into it went the ingredients for custard cream biscuits. What have custard creams got to do with chocolate you might ask? Well the chocolate recipe I really wanted to make needed some custard creams (without the cream) as a base. What’s a poor girl to do?
I make most of my bakes the old fashioned way and these biscuits are no exception. That is, I cream butter and sugar together by hand. I then beat in eggs and stir in any remaining ingredients. But you can place everything into a food mixer in one go and let that do the work for you instead. Just make sure your butter is sufficiently soft.
The dough is quite soft and sticky, so you may need to cover it in a wrap and place in the refrigerator for half an hour to firm up. When it’s time to roll out the dough, dust your work surface liberally with gluten-free flour as the dough is likely to still be a bit sticky.
Roll out to about a quarter of a centimetre in thickness, then stamp out three times five centimetre rectangles. As you can see from the photos I went with a four times five centimetre heart-shaped cutter instead.
The biscuits take about ten minutes to cook. Whilst you don’t want to over-bake, it’s important to make sure they’re done or they won’t be crunchy. They should be light golden brown. As you can see from the photo above, some of mine were slightly browner than I’d intended. My excuse is that I have a temperamental oven and it’s hard to get an even bake.
Gluten-Free Custard Creams: Post Baking
Nevertheless less, they turned into a great crunchy biscuit with a pronounced granular texture from the polenta. They tasted sweet and buttery with a good dose of vanilla. The butteryness reminded CT of Bonne Maman Galettes. I had no luck whatsoever in restraining him. Although the texture was very different, I thought the custard creams tasted quite similar to the shop bought variety I remember – only better.
No custard cream is complete without a vanillary custard filling. The buttercream is really easy to make, as long as your butter is nice and soft. Just place all of the ingredients into a bowl and give them a good beating.
With the amount in the recipe below, I managed to get sixty two biscuits. I made only half the amount of the actual gluten-free custard creams as I wanted the remaining plain biscuits for another recipe. The plain biscuits are perfect for making a gluten-free cheesecake base or as in my case, lemon sherbet tiffin.
Once filled, the biscuits will keep in a sealed container in a cool place for three days, but they may go slightly soft. If you’re not going to eat them straight away, it’s probably best to keep them unfilled until you need them. The plain biscuits will keep for several days.
Other Gluten-Free Recipes for Cookies and Biscuits you Might Like
- Chocolate macaroons
- Chocolate pistachio biscotti
- Jammy flapjacks
- Marzipan macaroons
- Tiger nut chocolate chip cookies (vegan)
Thank You From Honeybuns Update
It’s not often I get thanked for a book review, but I was surprised and delighted to receive a box of Honeybuns minis in the post one day with a lovely note thanking me for this review. Now I had every intention of reviewing this box of delights, for delightful every one of those gluten free treats most certainly were. I did make a bit of a start, but somehow, CT and I managed to polish them all off before I got very far.
Tidying up my desk recently, I came across the Honeybuns note which reminded me of just how good the cakes were. Somewhat shamefacedly, I renewed contact and lo and behold another box arrived. This one contained a biscuit, a cake and four minis – all chocolate.
Honeybuns Gluten-Free Treats
All of the Honeybuns range is gluten free and some products are also dairy free. They’re made with good quality ingredients and contain no artificial colours or preservatives. Whether one is gluten intolerant or not, the cakes I have tried are all interesting, not overly sweet and tasty. Very few of the products have sugar as the main ingredient, which, in my experience, is highly unusual in commercial cakes and biscuits.
All products are made on the family farm in Dorset. Looking after nature, especially bees is a key objective and to this end the farm includes a nature reserve and is involved in various conservation projects. Packaging is biodegradable and comes with fun facts and stories about Honeybuns and their products.
The minis, as the name suggests, are little cakes weighing in at 40g; they are the perfect size for sticking in your pocket to maintain energy levels on a bracing Cornish cliff walk. The full sized cake bar (85g) carries the following salutory warning: this cake is an indulgent treat, if you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Oh bother, another fifty mile hike needed!
Dark chocolate, free range eggs, butter, sugar, ground almonds, whole almonds, orange zest, ground coffee, orange oil, sea salt, vanilla.
These were very chocolatey, which I guess should be no surprise given this was the main ingredient. It had a noticeable, but not dominant orange flavour which CT would have approved of, except he didn’t get a look in. Nice fudgy brownie consistency, that was both smooth and chewy at the same time, due to the generous amount of almonds chunks. If Cathy had any sense, she would have gone for this rather than the man himself.
Triple Chocolate Tinker Cookie
Ground almonds, rice syrup, milk chocolate, plain chocolate, dark chocolate, salted butter, cocoa powder, vanilla, baking powder, ground coffee.
Strong chocolate aroma. We both liked the texture which was slightly sticky and rather chewy; it forces your jaws to get some exercise even if the rest of the body is static. Not too sweet with a good chocolate flavour and a hint of treacle. Tinker Tuesdays are an institution at Honeybuns it seems; each week, they give away a tin of their cookies. I’m definitely tempted to enter this, what about you?
Caramel, pecans, polenta, ground almonds, butter sugar, milk chocolate, nibbed almonds, coconut xanthan gum.
A little like millionaires shortbread but more interesting and not as sweet. A polenta and ground almonds shortbread base, covered with a layer of caramel and then topped with a crunchy layer of toasted pecans, coconut and chocolate. Just as well CT was around when I tried this one or I would have had to have put my walking boots on again. Then again, I think it would have been worth it.
Milk Chocolate Brownie
Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, butter, sugar, ground almonds, free-range eggs.
Like the Healthcliff Brownie before it, this had crunchy nuts and chocolate pieces studded throughout, but was slightly sweeter and had a vanilla and coffee flavour rather than an orange one. The taste lingered on the palate in a pleasant manner with the coffee coming more to the fore, but without any bitterness.
Chocolate Caramel Shortbread
The first thought in biting into this, was thank goodness it’s not tooth-achingly sweet. It was in fact delicious with a dark top? and a the polenta base seemed ideal to mop up any excess sweetness and was deliciously biscuity.
This was the only one I wrote up from the first batch. Ginger and polenta shortbread with a lemon sponge topping. It’s delicious, moist, nice varied texture with nibbed almonds for extra crunch. Not too sweet and just a subtle flavour of ginger and lemon.
Keep in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make these gluten-free custard creams, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. And do please rate the recipe. Have you any top tips? Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
If you’d like more gluten-free recipes, follow the link and you’ll find I have quite a lot of them. All delicious, of course.
Gluten-Free Custard Creams. PIN IT.
Gluten-Free Custard Creams – The Recipe
Gluten-Free Custard Creams
- 150 g unsalted butter – softened
- 150 g golden caster sugar
- 1 large egg (I used a duck egg)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 150 g fine polenta
- 150 g ground almonds
- 100 g custard powder
- 100 unsalted butter
- 25 g icing sugar
- 2 tsp custard powder
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
- Stir in the polenta, ground almonds and custard powder.
- Bring it together with your hands to form a ball of dough.
- Alternatively, place all ingredients into an electric mixer and let that do the work for you.
- Cover the dough and place in the refrigerator for at least half an hour to firm up as it’s quite soft and sticky.
- When you’re about ready to start rolling the dough, set the oven to 180℃ (160℃ fan, 350℉, Gas 4).
- Dust work top very liberally with gluten free flour as the dough is likely to still be a bit sticky.
- Roll out to about ¼ cm thick and cut into heart shapes with a 3 x 5 cm cutter.
- Gather all the bits into another ball and repeat the rolling and cutting process.
- Place them slightly apart on lined baking trays as they may spread.
- Bake as near to the centre of the oven as you can get for 10 minutes until slightly browned. Well a few were more than slightly browned, but it’s hard to get an even bake in my oven.
- Cream the butter and icing sugar together along with the custard powder.
- Add the vanilla extract and cream some more until it’s super light and fluffy.
- Spread this over 25 of the biscuits and cover with a further 25 biscuits.
- Dust with icing sugar.
- Put aside any biscuits that are left to be used for another recipe or just eaten plain.
I’m sharing this recipe for parsnip and potato mash with Melissa Traub for #CookBlogShare.
Disclaimer: the publishers, Anova Books, sent me the book for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for your support of the brands and organisations that help to keep Tin and Thyme blithe and blogging.