I realised the other day that I don’t really like autumn.

Yes, it’s very pretty with the golden light and rust-coloured trees. And yes, I quite like the excitement of a new school year (despite the fact that it’s many years since I was in school). But really, it just feels like I’m killing time.

I feel the same way about spring. Both summer and winter are full of excitement. Holidays, Christmas, my birthday. I like both the heat of summer and the cold of winter. But I hate this liminal time of year that is neither one thing nor the other. The months of spring and autumn slip away as I’m dreaming of the next season.

All week, it has been grey and foggy and miserable in London. Yesterday afternoon, we all gathered round the office windows in excitement at spotting a tiny patch of blue sky. It was, of course, gone within a few minutes. Sometimes I’ve not been able to tell if it’s raining or if the air is just heavy and damp. Despite that, until this morning at least, it’s not been cold. I dutifully put my coat on every morning because I feel that I should but by the time I’ve walked to the station, I’m uncomfortably hot and spend the rest of my commute with it scrunched in my arms. It has just confirmed to me how irritating I find this time of year.

Cardamom is not a spice that I use a lot, not least because the seeds can be a complete pain to grind. Last weekend, we were served some cardamom biscuits with a cheese plate at one of my favourite restaurants, The Cinnaon Club, and I went home thinking about the flavour. It’s delicate and floral and every-so-slightly exotic. Orange seemed a natural pairing (as evidenced by this cake from Emma).

Rather than simply adding some orange zest to the shortbread dough, I made a sticky syrup with the zest and juice and a touch of butter and sugar. It’s an idea I stumbled across in a cupcake book and that I used in this chocolate and burnt orange swiss roll. It rounds out the orange flavour and gives it a warm, caramel undertone that seems perfect for such depressing days as we’ve been having recently. The cardamom is subtle, enhancing the orange rather than overwhelming it. I like to top the shortbread with some slightly haphazardly applied dark chocolate but it is by no means essential.

I used a mixture of rice flour and corn flour (corn starch) to keep these cookies gluten free. I also find that this combination of flours gives a crisp yet buttery texture that feels very authentic. The fact that it is gluten free is really just an added bonus. Feel free to play around with other flours though. One word of warning though, I tried to make these with olive oil rather than butter and it didn’t work at all. I have come to the conclusion that butter is really essential for shortbread and have decided to embrace it.

Burnt orange and cardamom shortbread
Inspired by the burnt orange buttercream in Sensational Cupcakes
Yield: Approx 20 depending on size


For the burnt orange syrup:

  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Juice of half an orange
  • 15g (1 tablespoon)unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoonunrefined caster/granulated sugar

For the shortbread:

  • 115g (1 stick)unsalted butter, softened
  • 55g (1/4 cup)unrefined caster/granulated sugar
  • 120g (1 cup)rice flour
  • 50g (1/2 cup)corn flour/corn starch
  • A pinch ofsalt
  • 2 pods of cardamom, ground finely

Cooking Directions

  1. To make the syrup, place the orange zest, juice, butter and sugar into a small pan and heat over a low heat. The sugar should dissolve and the mixture start to bubble. Heat until it turns a golden brown and becomes syrupy (be careful, if you heat it too much you will end up with a solid lump of burnt sugar). Set aside to cool.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cooled orange syrup and beat until incorporated.
  3. Mix in the flours, salt  and cardamom and gather together the dough with your hands.
  4. Roll out on a lightly floured surface, cut into shapes and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper/silicone. Chill in the fridge for half an hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F (fan).
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges of the cookies are just turning golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes on the baking tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool. When cool, drizzle with melted chocolate if desired.
20 Responses to "burnt orange and cardamom shortbread {gluten free}"
  1. Liz says:

    I’m always looking for new variations of shortbread as I’m a big fan of the original cookie. This combo sounds great…not too overpowering. Thanks! Have a great weekend!

  2. Emma Gardner says:

    That syrup sounds absolutely delicious. Glad you decided to try the orange/cardamon mix – thank you for the link! Funnily enough I’m going to post about shortbready biscuits later today – great minds think alike :)

    And don’t worry, I forgive you for not liking autumn. Just. Possibly because you made biscuits. Also because the tube made me hate autumn too, with the whole hot/cold/sweaty nightmare (well, that applies to all seasons, but autumn & spring in particular).

  3. I can imagine making these as a pre-Christmas treat for myself. In our family we have a tradition of baking up to 10 different kinds of cookies to serve to friends in December and over the holidays and these would fit in prefectly :)

  4. I never thought of autumn that way but I totally know what you mean. We’re kind of in a waiting period until Thanksgiving hits and then everything goes crazy from there.

    As for these shortbread, amazing! I love that you made a syrup. It’s so innovative!

  5. Nothing wrong with not liking autumn. I love it when it gets here but I’m always ready for a change when winter comes! And these cookies – absolutely stunning!

  6. LaineBakes says:

    It’s the end of a very long day, not to mention week, and I may just be slightly out of sorts, but I don’t see cardamom listed in the ingredients… Can you add the amounts needed please? Otherwise, this sounds like a lovely recipe that I’d love to try.

  7. london bakes says:

    @LaineBakes – No, you’re completely right! I’m so sorry about that, I’ve updated the ingredient list and recipe to include the cardamom. It’s been a long week here too…Thanks for pointing it out!

  8. Cardamom and orange are a beautiful pairing. Shortbread can only benefit from these flavours. They must smell and taste great.
    I am a spring/summer person myself. Cannot be doing with this cold and dark. I need growing and gardening weather to keep me happy!

  9. LaineBakes says:

    Thank you for putting it right! An enormous smile now as I think about Sunday baking xx

  10. I get disliking autumn. Although, in Sweden, it’s not like winter is coming, it’s like winter is *here*. It snowed on Thursday and is already ridiculously cold but I’m stubbornly refusing to pull out my winter jacket or boots yet since it’s still only October. I’ve always had a serious dislike for November, there is absolutely nothing redeeming about it. And it’s right around the corner. Ugh.

    Cardamom is super popular in Swedish baking, and it’s not used subtly. Most cinnamon buns are actually cardamom buns. I love chocolate and orange together, and the little bit of cardamom here sounds perfect. Beautiful photos in this post!

  11. I know exactly how you feel about travelling in this weather – the whole coat/sweaty tube thing is a nightmare! These biscuits look like the perfect thing to cheer me up on an autumn evening, waiting for winter to properly kick in :-)

  12. I completely agree about autumn being a season in which it feels like you’re just waiting, killing time. While there are certain things I enjoy about it, on the whole I feel like I just want the excitement of Christmas to come. It doesn’t help that I don’t like the cold of winter, though I wish I did!

    These cookies look gorgeous, I love the use of different flours to keep them gluten free, I’ll definitely have to try that. Cardamom and orange are such perfect autumn flavors as well, not to mention they hint a bit at Christmas to me.

    Great post :)

  13. I am an autumn lover! But then I d look forward to winter and Christmas too, so, I love both of the cooler seasons. But, getting back to your biscuits – they look wonderful and have my favourite flavours in the,, cardamom and burnt orange, wonderful. Lovely photos too……Karen

  14. Ahhhh I love Autumn! You get to wrap up warm in coats and hats and scarves but it isn’t too cold yet! And it is really pretty! Your biscuits look lovely too!

  15. Jenny @ BAKE says:

    I feel exactly the same way about cardamon! but it’s so delicious once it’s ground! I love the combination of flavours here!

  16. Asmita says:

    The shortbread looks and sounds delicious! I love the orange and cardamom flavors.

  17. Cindy says:

    I love the combination of orange and cardamom and I LOVE that these are gluten-free. I am not great at gluten-free baking and I would love to try these out!

  18. I’m not a lover of autumn either — so that’s fine.

    But these shortbread?!? Oh my. Love the cardamom and orange in it :)

  19. Mie says:

    It is now the third time we are making these at my house – THEY ARE BRILLIANT! We love them to bits – thank you ever so much for sharing this recipe :D

    I want to make them a new addition to my traditional gift of assorted cookies for Christmas. However, I find that they don’t keep for very long, like most (good) shortbreads. I suppose it is due to the high butter content. I therefore thought of making them into sugar cookies instead, as they usually keep very well. Do you have any useful pointers for converting the recipe?

    Congrats again on your marvellous creation ;D

  20. london bakes says:

    @Mie – So sorry for not getting back to you sooner. In terms of converting the recipe to sugar cookies, I think if you just use your favourite sugar cookie recipe and use the syrup and cardamom in it, you should be fine. You may want to use a little bit less sugar as the syrup is quite sweet or a little more flour until the dough is the right consistency. Hope that helps :)

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