Edible Gluten Free Christmas Table Decorations: Part 1

christmas tree 1

Every Christmas I look at all the lovely magazines and online pictures of fabulous Christmas tables loaded with goodies and decorated to look (not surprisingly) like a page in a magazine and think how nice would it be to have a colour coordinated Christmas table complete with an edible centrepiece. Well, this year we are away for Christmas, but I’ve been inspired to attempt the edible table decorations nonetheless, thanks to a little inspiration from a friend (thanks Kathy!) and a lot of help from the fabulous Jacky – The Food Werewolf food consultant – a terribly clever and food savvy lady who helps with all recipes, menu plans and food related tasks.

So to be rather fancy, we are trying out two different table centrepieces – a Christmas Tree made from shortbread biscuits in the shape of stars and the good old gingerbread house. Both will be gluten free, additive free and mostly made with organic ingredients to boot!  This week’s blog will be the tree and I’ll share our house making experiences with you next week.


To make the shortbread star Christmas Tree, I decided to get a bit creative and alternate chocolate and vanilla shortbread biscuits, however you can use just one flavour if you wish. The recipe for these biscuits is as easy as can be, as I simply used our basic biscuit recipe and just made them into different sized stars instead of small round biscuits as the recipe suggests.

For the Vanilla Shortbread Biscuit recipe, click here.
For the Chocolate Shortbread Biscuit recipe, click here.
To help you out with the star shapes and sizes, click here for templates. Simply print out two copies of each size and cut out the template shapes in preparation.

Quick Tip 1:  Unless it’s actually specified, most recipes usually assume you will use wheat flour. Which means, if you plan on baking with gluten free flour, measurements need to be slightly adjusted. I try to keep my recipes ‘neutral’ – that is – adaptable for wheat or gluten free flour. Here’s a tip to make sure things work out every time. If using wheat flour, just follow the recipe as it states. If using gluten free flour, to compensate for the difference in flour weights, use 140g of gluten free flour for every 1 cup stated in a recipe.

So for this shortbread biscuit recipe, use 280g of gluten free plain flour and 70g of self raising flour. For more gluten free baking tips and information, check out my soon to be released eBook – Your Guide To Go Gluten Free Permanently. I used a homemade gluten free flour mix from Gluten Free On A Shoestring, which consists of white rice flour, tapioca flour and potato starch, and added 1 tsp of xanthan gum to the mix. You could also use a store bought gluten free flour mix. For a range of gluten free flour mix combinations, click here.

creamed butter

One batch of either the vanilla or chocolate recipe makes one whole tree, so if you want both flavours, you’ll have two trees, or a lot of leftover cookie dough to make some biscuits for the kids treats too! When mixing your dough, be sure to beat the butter and sugar well so it is as white and smooth and creamy as possible. This will help make your biscuits really melt in your mouth! Oh and beware – the flour will fly everywhere when adding it!

Quick Tip 2:  If you are making small biscuits with the leftover dough, cover the leftover dough with a damp cloth whilst fiddling with the star shapes (particularly the chocolate as it dries out quickly) until you are ready to make them into balls.

cut out starOnce you have the dough ready to make your stars, press the dough with the heel of your hand (or a rolling pin) onto a tray lined with baking paper until it’s roughly the size of one of the star template shapes you have previously cut out.

royal icingYou want the thickness of your biscuit to be about 1cm (any thinner and it will crumble when trying to assemble your tree structure).

Place the paper star shape template on top of the biscuit dough and using a pizza cutter or a knife, carefully cut around the edges of the template. Repeat this process with each star shape until you have two of each size (8 in total). Be sure to leave space on the tray between the biscuits for them to expand as they cook.

Cooking time is about the same as the recipe indicates for small biscuits (ie: 10-12 minutes), however take care if you have a large and small star on the one tray that the smaller one doesn’t over cook. Leave your biscuits to cool on the tray to avoid too much handling (being shortbread, they’re delicate little tackers – especially the chocolate ones!).

Whilst cooling your fabulous looking star shortbread biscuits, mix up a batch of royal icing to keep them all stuck together as they precariously stack on top of each other.

Click here for the icing recipe.


stack stars

Once your biscuits have completely cooled, place a dob of icing on the base of the largest star and pop it onto a foil covered board (this is the thing it will permanently sit on for presentation, so make it pretty!). Then it’s just a matter of stacking each star on top, decreasing in size, using icing between each one to keep them stuck together. You should end up with two of each size stacked until a pretty tree emerges!


top view 2

To complete the decorations, the options are endless! I recommend Hopper cake decorating products to help keep things gluten free and additive free too.

Here are a few decorating ideas:

  • Using a fork, drizzle some of the icing over the top of the tree and down the edges to look like snow.full tree
  • You can quickly follow this with a sprinkle of additive free coconut (such as Gourmet Organic, Ceres Organic, H2G Organic or Woolworths Macro Organic desiccated coconut) to really add to the snow effect (NB: desiccated coconut is notorious for containing preservatives, so be sure to look out for an organic or preservative free product).
  • If you have any additive free colouring (again Hoppers have a great variety), you can also add a few drops to the coconut to give a bit more colour to your tree.
  • To get a ‘fuller’ leafier looking tree, pull out the old piping bags and pipe icing in big starry blobs all over your tree.
  • Or to keep it simple, sift some icing sugar over the top for a quick snow effect and leave it at that!
  • For something more classy and clean, use a dob of icing to stick a teeny little silver ball (otherwise known in the cake world as a cashous or pearls) on the tip of each star and simply pipe a clean line around the edge of each star.

For a family affair, get the kids involved here – it’s so much fun to sprinkle and drizzle. Hoppers even make Christmas coloured 100’s & 1000’s, which all kids love to sprinkle on just about anything.  The end result is a homemade one of a kind masterpiece that will grace your Christmas table with pride and fabulous flavour (if it lasts that long!).

So there you have it – our first ever additive free, gluten free table centerpiece for Christmas. Might not be fit for a magazine, but still looks snazzy huh? Go on! Have a go! It’s next to no effort and lots of fun!

Be sure to send some pics of your wonderful trees for all to share in the joys of this festive season.

You can share them in the comments below or head to The Food Werewolf Facebook page and post your picture there.

Stay tuned for next week’s gluten free additive free gingerbread house creations…

Happy tree making!

Loren x
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