If you’ve taken a class from me or you are my husband, you have heard me say “color equals flavor”. It is my anthem. I will sing it from the rooftops. I really should get t-shirts made.

For this very reason my puff pastry teeters on the edge of burnt as I adore the golden toffee flavors that exist on its copper edges. I hold my breath while making caramel as I creep up to the line of complete and total disaster trying to get it as close to a deep, dark umber as possible. I’m rewarded with a caramel that is rich in flavor and not cloyingly sweet as a tinge of bitterness cuts through the sweetness creating a perfect balance.

Sticking to my motto I will often try and figure out more ways to squeeze in another layer of flavor by adding a toasted, caramel, nutty quality. For example, I will often reach for dark brown sugar instead of white and I love using browned butter in place of a plain cube of butter.


This dedication to darker flavors led me to the discovery of toasting flour. Before I started experimenting I had never heard of this before and then suddenly today, Dorie Greenspan (my baking hero) posted a recipe for toasted flour shortbread. If Dorie posts it you know it must be good.

My version takes flour to a deep golden color. The resulting cookie is borderline savory, lightly sweet and immensely nutty. The texture is pleasantly tender which makes for a bit of a crumbly dough, but I insist that it is worth the mess and misshapen cookies. My favorite accompaniment for these shortbread is raspberry jam. Although raspberry buttercream isn’t bad either.

My preferred method for toasting the flour is in a large pan on the stove. Over medium heat I constantly stir two cups of flour until the desired color is reached. This takes about 10-15 minutes. You could toast in the oven as well. At 350* place two cups of flour on a baking sheet. Stirring every 10 minutes roast until desired color – for me this was about 45 minutes. I like it good and toasty. As your flour reaches the correct color the smell will wander through the kitchen leaving scented trails of roasted nuts and freshly popped toast.


not toasted /toasted

For a less intense roasted flavor you could toast for less time or simply use half toasted flour and half regular. Always sift the cooled flour as it has a tendency to form little clumps during the toasting process. Which is why I say toast 2 cups rather than the 1 1/2 cups called for in the recipe.

Just think of the possibilities this technique opens up. Imagine the flavor of bread that is baked with half toasted flour. Chocolate chip cookies would be even more irresistible. Toasted flour cakes would give another reason to celebrate.

Other flour toasters:

Dorie’s Toasted Flour Shortbread

Clotilde’s Squeeze Cookies


Toasted Flour Shortbread

4 oz. (1 stick) butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup powdered sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cups toasted flour* (see directions on how to toast above)
2 T heavy cream
¼ tsp salt

¼ cup turbinado sugar

Pre-heat oven to 350*

Cream the butter, vanilla and sugars. Add the flour, cream and salt. Stir just to combine.
Place the crumbly dough on a sheet of parchment. Form into a 1’ log. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the top and press it into the dough covering all sides.
Wrap tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour or until chilled.
Slice the log into ¼’ rounds and bake at 350* for 12-15 minutes. Let cool on the sheet tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 2 dozen

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41 Responses to “Toasted flour shortbread”

  1. Alexandra Rogers

    Have you tried browned butter shortbread at all? That is definitely another “color equals flavor” situation. Thank you for this recipe, it looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it. Your blog is fantastic and an inspiration to me!

  2. Sheena

    I love adding toasted ingredients in baked goods as well. I’ve never thought of what toasting flour could do, it seems like such an intriguing idea, especially in cookies!

  3. Todd

    So color = flavor. Would you want that on one, two or three lines? If you are interested, send me an e-mail.

  4. Stephanie S

    These look lovely. And I agree, brown butter is my preferred butter expressly because of the toasty, nutty flavor it imparts. And ooo Bonne Maman. I think I might substitute the fig preserves cause I love them on toast and think this would a perfect combo!

  5. Megan

    Wow, what a novel way to use toasted flour! I’ve never even considered using it in something sweet. I learned about it through an old family recipe for a browned flour stew, where it makes an incredibly simple and delicious gravy. I’m going to have to use it in some baking, now… Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. astheroshe

    I made a toasted flour cake once as an experiment.. and it was delicious. I think shortbread is a great way to display the flavor! .. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. Sabine

    I use Bonne Maman too! I actually used it for a batch of raspberry oatmeal bars I made recently… what a great jam.
    Great pictures and post by the way.

  8. Julie

    These look amazing. I have to make them. Love the idea of toasted flour! I would totally buy your t-shirt, btw 🙂 Question on the sugars though, where do you get turbinado sugar and could you possibly substitute a full 1/2 cup of sugar??

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Julie – So glad you would buy my shirt! The turbinado sugar is just for coating the outside of the cookie log. You don’t need it but it does add a nice crunch as it is a course sugar with deep caramel and molasses flavor.

  9. Nishta

    toasting flour makes so much sense! there’s a traditional Indian dessert that calls for toasting the cream of wheat, which is the base, but I never would have thought to transfer the idea to other sweets.

  10. the [sugar] apothecary

    Oh man, I can almost taste the toastiness! Those cookies look absolutely delicious, and I can only imagine what they must be like with jam. Mmm. I totally agree with your love of deeply colored foods. It’s those almost-burnt flavors that make baked goods taste so amazing.

  11. foodie and the chef

    This is gorgeous: there’s nothing like teetering on the edge of burnt cinders in the quest for flavour. What an unusual idea to toast the flour for shortbread. I like. A lot.

  12. Kasey

    I’ve never heard of this technique, but I’m totally intrigued by it. Thanks so much for sharing – I’m excited to try to roast some flour!

  13. sarah

    Oh yum! Those look delicious. My fiance makes some really amazing smoked-flour chocolate chip cookies– he smokes it in a makeshift smoker over a fire in our back yard.

    I am definitely giving these a try!

  14. Valerie

    I never thought of toasting my flour before I read this. I toasted some flour for a chocolate chip cake I baked today.. HEAVEN! Seriously, the batter was SO good, I almost ended up eating all of the batter raw 🙂

  15. Sammie

    I love shortbread but the last time I made it- it wasn’t very good! Your pictures alone have inspired me to try again!

  16. Elizabeth

    I saw this recipe on Dorie Greenspan’s page and thought it looked intriguing! I love the side-by-side comparison of toasted and untoasted flour. These look lovely!

  17. Lael

    I remember reading Clotilde’s recipe a while back and my interest being peaked. It still is. I would love to try these! I just made a big batch of meyer lemon curd and am thinking a pate brisee crust with toasted flour would be lovely filled with the curd.

  18. molly

    my word! never ever have i (ever!) thought to toast flour, though i am entirely with you on the bordering-on-burnt caramel and browned butter addiction.

    am thinking i may need to give this a go with the pomegranate buttercream. or caramel buttercream. or or or…

  19. saltandserenity

    You are the Anne Burell of the baking world! If you have ever seen her show, “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef” she always says, “Brown equals flavor!!” Interesting idea to toast the flour.

  20. Shaina

    Right now I’m imagining the taste of toasted flour in shortbread and letting it melt over my tongue when I should instead be dreaming of pulling the covers up over my shoulders. And like so many others, my mind is reeling from the prospect of toasted flour livening up old favorite recipes.

  21. Kate

    I’ve made quite a few toasted flour cakes whilst trying to find a replacement for bleached cake flour by heat-treating it – you can see one such cake experiment at . At the time, I tried to eliminate what I called ‘the toasting problem’, but I do remember that my husband’s work colleagues loved the caramel taste that the heat-treated flour gave to the cakes!

  22. christine

    I am a chef and have used brown butter in many recipes but never before toasted flour. These were very good. I toasted the flour and used brown butter also added cinnamon, cardamom, little nutmeg and a touch of lemon to brighten the flavors. Excellent!


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