Shortbread Plum Crumble: Gluten-free in the summertime

Shortbread Plum Crumble: Gluten-free in the summertime

Plum crumble on white surface

Things which have nothing to do with food that I do to save money:

I cut everyone’s hair in my house (husband, 3 kids, 2 dogs), except myself. And I’m good at it. BIG money-savings. My husband wouldn’t let me anywhere near him, despite my track record with the kids, until I was laid off from my job in 2009. Silver lining.

I run instead of going to a gym. Okay fine that’s also because I hate gyms.

I paint my own toenails. Also, good at it by now.

A close up of Plum crumble on white surfaceThing I do to save money that has everything to do with food:

Make my own junk food.

Plums on meta surface

And buy fruit in season. Like these plums. It takes, like, forever for stone fruits to really really really be in season.

Inside of plums

And you know what happens when you eat fruit that’s not in season. It costs a million dollars, and it doesn’t even taste good. Plums especially. Out-of-season plums make me make a fish face when I eat them. I blame my looks on out-of-season plums.

A close up of food person hand

But now is the time. And the season. For plums.

Rows of sliced plums

These bars have a humble shortbread crust (shortbread = no leavener) and a slightly jazzier crumble topping. They’re what to do with your plums.

close up of pie Crumble

The crumble topping is just some of the shortbread with some brown sugar and cinnamon, and a bit more flour, thrown in.

Well, not necessarily thrown in, but you know what I mean.

Sliced plum crumble on brown surface

I may not be Alice Waters or anything (a’doy), but I know when to eat plums. And, even better, I know how to bake ’em up just right. Here’s how:

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time:


2 1/4 cups (315 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

16 tablespoons (224g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup (109g) packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pound plums (ripe, but not very soft), rinsed and blotted dry

1 teaspoon cornstarch


  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a 9-inch square pan with crisscrossed sheets of unbleached parchment paper, each overhanging two opposite sides. Set the pan aside.

  • In a large bowl, place 2 cups (280 g) of the flour, the xanthan gum, granulated sugar and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the butter, and mix to combine. The mixture should come together as a soft dough. Remove about 3/4 cup (150 g) of the dough and transfer it to a medium-size bowl. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and the remaining 1/4 cup (35 g) flour to the reserved dough, and mix to combine. This is the crumble topping. Place the bowl of crumble topping in the freezer to chill. Scrape the remaining soft shortbread dough into the prepared square pan, and press into an even layer with well-floured hands. Set the pan aside.

  • Slice each of the plums in half, then remove and discard the pits. With a serrated knife, carefully slice the plums into wedges, each about 1/4-inch wide, taking care not to bruise or crush the fruit. Blot the plum slices with paper towels to remove extra juice on the surface. Lay the plum slices on top of the shortbread in 4 parallel rows, from one side of the pan to the other, overlapping them slightly in each row. Sprinkle the plums evenly with the cornstarch. Remove the crumble topping from the freezer, break it up into irregular clumps with a fork, and sprinkle it in an even layer on top of the fruit. Press down on the topping gently but evenly to help the crumble topping adhere to the fruit.

  • Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven, and bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is uniformly light brown in color and seems set. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely (place in the freezer to speed the process). Carefully remove the bars from the pan by the overhung parchment paper. With a very sharp knife, slice into 16 equal pieces. The bars will be moist and will not set up rock hard because of the moisture in the plums, but will hold together when handled carefully.


Comments are closed.

  • kathleen
    August 3, 2012 at 7:22 AM

    Hi – Love your book!!!! The white bread is great – tho I am challenged. It does not rise well. I do not have a mixing paddle for my hand mixer PLUS I need to use milk substitute. I have used the Coffee Rich that is mixed with water ( found in frozen section). Could that be the cause of so little rise? Or salted butter – all I had on hand. I do use Better Batter. My little girl loves this bread but maybe a bit taller :) Look foward to your advice! Thank you.

    • August 3, 2012 at 9:13 AM

      Hi, Kathleen,
      First and foremost, I would suggest making the bread with as few substitutions as possible. Coffee Rich is not a very good nondairy milk sub for baking. I have heard of others having success with almond milk, if you can use that. It is protein-rich and has fat, both of which you need. Second, I would suggest reading this post about getting gluten-free bread to rise, and this post about baking gluten-free bread.
      xoxo Nicole

  • August 1, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    I’m not a big fan of plums…. But I am a HUGE fan of plain homemade shortbread. It was the only thing I baked before going gluten free. Do you think I could make the shortbread without the crumbles and plums? I’m thinking I want to try it….

    Also I made you grasshopper pies last night and now I can’t stop eating them. They are delish. :) Thank you!

  • August 1, 2012 at 10:15 PM

    This looks so yummy. And i just bought some assorted colored plums yesterday, great timing.

    I too cut the hair of my oldest boy and husband. Saves a good amount of money, especially since my husband was going every two -three weeks to get his done to keep it in Army regulations .

    Things we do for love ;)

  • Marilyn
    August 1, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    This sounds wonderful!

    Nicole – I just got your cookbook & spent a wonderful rainy afternoon reading it straight through! Looking forward to the new one.

  • Kimberly
    August 1, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    When you say dried, how did you dry them? I’m a novice to cooking, but these look absolutely scrumptious!

    • August 1, 2012 at 12:55 PM

      Hi, Kimberly,
      Do you mean where I indicate that the plums should be rinsed and dried? That just means to blot the fruit dry after rinsing it. I will clarify in the instructions. :)
      xoxo Nicole

      • Kimberly
        August 1, 2012 at 12:59 PM

        Ahh yes…that would have been my strange interpretation of those instructions… Thank you!

  • August 1, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    I followed the link to pre-order your new cookbook. I LOVE the “old” one. I was disappointed that there wasn’t a kindle option. I get most of my books on Kindle now especially cookbooks. I just set up my Tablet in the kitchen and follow the recipe that way, and no book clutter!!!

    • August 1, 2012 at 12:38 PM

      Hi, Elaine,
      Thanks so much for your support. The new book will most definitely be available in Kindle form when it comes out. It’s just not available for kindle preorder. Don’t worry. :) I’m glad you asked!
      xoxo Nicole

      • August 1, 2012 at 12:40 PM

        Glad to hear it! What I love about your recipes, is that even my Gluten Eating and loving Husband likes them. He usually hates GF food. He says there is a slime left in your mouth after you swallow. With Better Batter, and your recipes, No Slime!!

        • August 1, 2012 at 12:42 PM

          That’s the name of the game for sure, Elaine. The food has to be good, period. Not just “good for gluten-free” (one of my biggest pet peeves!). Slime. Ew. :/
          xoxo Nicole

  • Patti
    August 1, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Look yummy Nicole & I already planned on getting some plums this week.

    Question for you, I have been printing many of your recipes. Will your new cookbook coming out this Fall (how’s that for a plug!!) have some of these recipes too? I hope so!

    • August 1, 2012 at 12:41 PM

      We’re apparently in synch, Patti. Thanks for the cookbook plug! It was indeed a nice one.
      Actually, the new book won’t have any of these recipes in it, as it is already in production and the contents are set. I do plan to create a short “Best of the Blog” ebook that will be free to those who preorder the new book, though. Maybe some of your favorites will be in there!
      xoxo Nicole

      • Patti
        August 2, 2012 at 11:25 AM

        Good to know. Thank you!

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