Gluten Free Custard Creams
February is the perfect time to talk about custard creams. It’s a month of love. That’s what custard powder was born out of. See, Alfred Bird invented the custard powder back in 1837 for his wife so that she could indulge in a treat we all enjoy. She was allergic to eggs and so he found a way to create it from scratch without the eggs. How romantic!
Custard creams didn’t exist until later, though. They have supposedly been around since 1908 and have been one of the Brits’ favourite biscuits. In a poll that surveyed 7,000 people, 9 out of 10 people chose the custard cream as their favourite biscuit. The secret must lie in how ‘fun’ it is to eat them. Do you simply bite into them? Lick the cream around the edges or open the biscuits?
Nevertheless, there are tons of different types of custard creams as well as recipes, including their unique flavours. In this article, you’ll learn how to make them gluten-free!
What are gluten free custard creams?
Simply put, they’re custard cream biscuits that don’t contain gluten that you’d normally find in the flour used to make them.
Why gluten free custard creams? Who are they intended for?
For some, free from gluten is their preferred way of eating, while for others it’s the only safe choice to protect their health.
“A gluten-free diet is recommended for people with celiac disease, gluten-sensitivity or the skin disorder dermatitis herpetiformis. A gluten-free diet may be helpful for some people with irritable bowel syndrome, the neurological disorder gluten ataxia, type 1 diabetes and HIV-associated enteropathy.” - Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D.
Are gluten free custard creams easy to make?
Yes, it’s easier than you think. They only take 15-20 mins to prepare, 10-15 minutes to bake and an additional 20 minutes to chill if you wish. See how easy they are to make in the recipe below.
Why make them yourself at home?
Buying custard creams at a shop is fine, but you have no control over what and how much of it is in them. Not only that but oftentimes they’re rather crumbly, gritty and dry. Not their usual fluffy, soft and yummy selves. And let’s be honest, nothing beats homemade.
Are custard creams gluten free?
The custard creams you find in supermarkets are typically not gluten-free but there are many that are. They’re easy to make at home, whether they're gluten free or not.
Does custard contain gluten?
Unless it’s made with flour, it doesn’t contain gluten. Custard is based on a mixture of egg and dairy and without grains, it has no gluten.
Which custard powder is gluten free?
The type of custard powder that contains starch or gluten-free flour.
Is Birds custard powder gluten free?
Yes, the ingredients are gluten-free, however, there may be a risk of cross-contamination with other foods depending on the preparation.
What you’ll need to make gluten free custard creams
- Kitchen scale to measure ingredients
- Baking tray
- Baking paper
- Fork or cooling rack
- A mixing bowl or two
- Electric whisk or a mixing spoon/spatula
- Custard cream mould (or rolling pin and biscuit cutter)
- Butter knife
What flour you'll need
Any gluten-free flour will do. It’s what will make your custard creams gluten-free. If you want to go further, you can find dairy-free butter.
How to make gluten free custard creams
These are really simple, quick and easy to make.
Serving: 15 Gluten Free Creams
Preparation time: 15-20 mins
Cooking time: 10-15 mins
Total time: 30-35 min
Longer if you decide to chill the dough and/or make the traditional print
- Line a baking tray with a non-stick baking paper or silicone one.
- Preheat your oven to 160-180C/320-356F.
- To start with, you'll need some butter in a medium-sized bowl. Give it a quick mix to loosen it up. Ideally, you want to use an electric whisk. But a fork or spatula will do, too.
- Then you'll need to add the caster sugar. If you don't have custard sugar you can use regular icing sugar. But you’ll need to use a bit less because icing sugar ends up being a lot sweeter for the same amount of weight.
- Whisk and mix that together until the butter is pale and fluffy.
- Using a sifter, add in your gluten free flour, custard powder and baking powder.
- Mix it all up until it all comes together in a uniform shape. It'll be bread crummy at first but it eventually comes together in biscuit dough. Your dough is now ready. Your biscuit dough is good to be shaped.
- You can roll it out and stamp out the shapes. But if you want it done quickly and easily, make little balls into about a walnut size and place them on top of the sheet that you prepared at the start.
- Use a cooling rack or fork to flatten the balls out using gentle pressure.
- Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 mins.
- When you're baking your biscuits you want to look for them to just ‘browning’ on the edges. That's when you know that they're done. If you bake them too much they become too dry and crumbly. Take them out and let them cool completely.
Chill the dough (optional)
- Put the tray of dough biscuits in the fridge and leave it there for about 20 minutes to chill (alternatively go for the freezer for about 10 minutes)
- In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- When the dough biscuits have chilled, space them out evenly to make sure they have room to grow in the oven.
Ingredients for the cream filling
- 60 g or ¼ cup of unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 120 g or ¾ cup + 1 tbsp of icing sugar
- a few drops of vanilla extract, or vanilla essence
Double the amount of icing sugar to butter.
- Put your unsalted butter in a mixing bowl. Give it a quick mix to soften and loosen it up before adding the icing sugar.
- Add the icing sugar carefully. Ideally in a few batches to avoid a sugar explosion. Mix slowly and gently.
- Add a couple of drops of vanilla extract between the icing sugar batches. The better quality of the vanilla extract, the better the result. You get the purest form of vanilla rather than a synthetic flavour. If you only have the vanilla essence, you can use that but vanilla extract is, for this reason, better than the essence.
- Optional: add custard powder to the buttercream filling as well if you can't get enough of the custardy flavour.
- Add the intensity and speed of the electric whisk to make the buttercream lighter and fluffier. It'll be smooth and creamy. Aim for a pale colour again. You can add some extra custard powder into the buttercream as well and mix it through. If you don't want it too custardy then skip it.
- All that's now left to do is to scoop a bit of the cream onto a knife, spread it on one cookie and sandwich it with another. For a fancier look, you can put the cream in a piping bag and feed it through that. Depends on how much time and patience you have. And how long you can wait before you get to eat these delicious cookies. Spread it out nice and even.
If you pile a bit more in the middle and squish two biscuits together creating a sandwich biscuit it will get spread out evenly to the sides.
Note: Custard powder is easy to get in the UK but if you live somewhere else, you can find a British store that'll likely have it. Or you can find it on Amazon.
How to get the traditional pattern on the biscuits
This is optional if you want the traditional custard cream print on the biscuits using a custard cream mould.
- Dust the surface of a custard cream mould with gluten free flour so that the biscuit dough doesn’t stick to it.
- Scoop out about a teaspoon of the biscuit dough using a butter knife or spoon and transfer it into the mould. Spread it out evenly.
- Ensure you work on a firm surface. Put the mould on a piece of baking paper and push down fairly firmly on the plunger for a few seconds.
- Push the moulded biscuit out onto the baking tray. Each biscuit should be about ¾ cm thick.
- Repeat the process of dusting, filling and moulding until you’ve used all the dough. Viola! Your traditional biscuits are ready.
Take your fresh gluten free custard creams out of the oven and serve them. They’re now ready to be devoured with your favourite cup of tea. Lick away!
Curious about the true gluten-free deal? Try these gluten-free custard creams.