How to Make Easy Vegan Shortbread. Shortbread is another old fashioned favourite, and I know it seems that I love cooking recipes from the past, but why not? I grow weary of seeing my Instagram feed full of macarons and burnt butter cookies (but don't worry, I will make these both, one day!), and I just don't always have the time to devote to such things.
Like so many others, I work full-time and because of this, and the fact that I take anti-depressant medication, I feel tired a lot. It usually takes a large quantity of caffeine and a lot of internal cheerleading to get motivated on the weekends, a time when I'd quite often love to just stay in bed.
I'm not complaining. I am extremely lucky to have work, particularly after having ridden through the "almost end of the world" that was Covid-19. But I think we can empathise with desire to just sometimes do nothing.
So, I suppose in a roundabout way, what I'm saying is that I enjoy baking and sharing these reasonably simple and quick recipes for the harassed, exhausted or just plain lazy (and that's ok too!) cook. The person who still wants to know that when they go to the cake tin in the week, they have a little treat in there, and a who wants a little bit of pride knowing that they filled the cake tin themselves.
I've blogged about my easy blender method cake elsewhere on this blog and if I can get prep for anything bakeable done in 10 minutes or under, I'm a happy bunny.
This shortbread recipe, based on a vintage Delia Smith one, but veganised, of course, and given a special (optional) twist.
What is Shortbread
Shortbread is not bread. It doesn't have yeast or any levening in it, and is certainly closer in texture to cookies than anything else. The word short refers to both the crumbly texture of the biscuit, but also that it uses a high quantity of shortening.
Of course, as the tartan on the boxes you see in the shops might suggest, Shortbread originated in Scotland, perhaps as early as the 12th Century. According to Sir Wiki, the first printed recipe for Shortbread appeared in 1736, carefully scribed by a Scotswoman called Mrs McLintock. I think she would have had some really interesting recipes in her reportoire, and if only I had a time machine, I would arrive in her kitchen to try her traditional Scottish recipes, perhaps somewhat disturbingly to her, probably never having heard of time machines.
Note: Shakespeare also wrote about an Alice Shortcake in the Merry Wives of Windsor, and no doubt he had tried the delicacy, but fell in love with the romantic nature of the name.
But I digress. If you have never tried shortbread, you must give this recipe a go today (or, at the weekend, I'll approve). It's also a really great recipe for children as it is such a simple recipe: just put all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat until you have a thick shortbread dough. You can make shortbread fingers, as I have here, or you could turn them into buttery cookies too. Perfect with a cup of tea, shortbread is the quintessential British (and Scottish!) tea-time treat, sold in large tins at Christmas, but perfect any time of year.
The buttery flavor comes from the few simple ingredients, so make sure to use the best quality vegan butter you can find. And contrary to common belief, you don't need dairy butter to make proper shortbread.
This is a great entry point to vegan baking as it is so simple, but gives you delicious cookies.
- Plain or all purpose flour. You could make gluten free shortbread cookies using a gluten free flour blend too.
- Semolina. This adds the distinctive "sandy" or crumbly texture that makes shortbread so delicious. You could use almond flour instead, although this will be slightly less "grainy". Rice flour is often used too.
- Vegan Butter. This ensures a buttery shortbread. It must be at room temperature.
- Vanilla Extract. Of course for flavour.
- Lavender Flowers. These add a haunting flavour to the shortbread. Of course totally optional.
- In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients until you have a soft dough. I use a wooden spoon but you could use a food processor.
- Lightly sprinkle a clean work surface with a little granulated sugar and turn out your dough.
- Using a rolling pin, gently roll your shortbread cookie dough into a square, about 5mm thickness
- Place on a lined baking sheet or tin prick all over with the tines of a fork. This allows the air to escape from the dough, and stop it puffing up.
- Bake at a low temperature (150c) for between 45minutes to an hour. Check at 45 minutes: your shortbread dough should be very pale coloured but feel dry to the touch.
- Remove from the oven, leave to cool for 10 minutes, then, using a sharp knife, cut into fingers.
- Leave to cool completely.
How do you make vegan Shortbread?
- Make sure that you use the best quality vegan butter you can, this does make all the difference to the taste. Salted is fine.
- and make sure your butter is at room temperature to make the beating of the dough much, much easier
- Don't omit the Semolina, this adds the distinctive "sandy" texture that all traditional shortbreads have.
- Because the dough doesn't really need to rise (although it will puff up a little on baking), you can be quite vigorous with the dough. This is not a biscuit dough that needs to be handled too carefully.
- You can customise your shortbread, as I did, by adding flavourings such as finely chopped dark chocolate (2 tbsp), some finely nibbed pistachios (2 tbsp), lemon zest and poppy seeds, or finely chopped lavender flowers. Of course, shortbread is perfect as it is, without any extras too.
- You can roll out the shortbread and use a cutter to make cookies instead.
Try my other vegan cookie recipes
- Delicious with a coffee, it's my fully-loaded Biscotti
- Rich and Buttery Viennese Cakes
- They have oats in them, so they must be healthy! My choc-chip oatmeal cookies
- Great for a festive gift, even if you're just gifting yourself, vegan Florentines
- Preheat oven to 150c.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together all the ingredients until they form a cohesive dough. I used a wooden spoon and did it by hand, but feel free to use your mixer
- Lightly sprinkle a work surface with a little sugar and turn out your dough
- Roll out until you have a rectangle that is approx ¾" thick.
- Place this gently onto your greased baking sheet and prick all over with a fork.
- Bake for between 45 minutes to an hour, until it feels firm to the touch, and no longer soft. Make sure it doesn't overcolour.
- Remove from the oven, leave to cool for 10 minutes, then carefully cut into fingers. Leave to cool completely.