Ever since I began to experiment with using more varieties of whole grains, I've realized that using whole grains opens up a world of deeper and more complex flavors than baking with white flour. Whole grain wheats contain a variety of different nutrients and flavor compounds, which are stripped from white flour during manufacturing. I have loved the effects that these grains have had on my breads, and thought - what better application to experiment with whole grains than the basic shortbread?
Shortbread is so simple, with only 3 ingredients in its most basic form - flour, butter, and sugar. For this reason, it follows that the higher quality each of the individual ingredients, the more flavorful the resulting shortbread will be. Keeping this in mind, I chose one of my favorite whole grain wheat varieties, einkorn, as the star of this basic shortbread recipe. I used my favorite vegan butter, Miyoko's, since butter makes up another sizable component of the recipe. And I added fresh vanilla bean: with such a simple recipe, every ingredient counts.
I hope you can enjoy these delicious shortbreads with whole grain einkorn flour - but if you don't have access to einkorn flour, try it with spelt flour, whole wheat flour, or any other high quality local flour you can get your hands on.
Ingredients (makes about 30 3x1 inch shortbreads):
1 cup / 8 oz vegan butter (salted), left out at room temperature for 15 minutes - I use Miyoko's European style
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 vanilla beans (if you don't have access, you can use 1 tsp vanilla extract)
Cut up the butter into smaller pieces. Place in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Mix with the stand mixer or using a handheld electric mixer until the butter is fluffy, starting on low and ending on high.
Add the powdered sugar and mix until incorporated, an additional 30 seconds or so.
Add the flour, about 1 cup at a time, until it forms a cohesive ball of dough.
Use a sharp knife to cut the vanilla bean pod in half lengthwise. Then, use a butter knife to scrape the tiny seeds from the pod. Add the seeds to the dough and mix an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute until well incorporated. Don't worry if the seeds come out of the pod in chunks - they will break apart when you mix the dough.
Place the dough in an airtight container and into the freezer for about 5-10 minutes to cool down. Alternatively, refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use.
When the dough is chilled, place it on a floured piece of parchment paper. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin to about 1/3 inch thick, being sure to sprinkle the dough with flour to prevent it from sticking.
Use a knife to cut the dough into 3 inch by 1 inch bars, or any shape or size that you like. Use a fork or chopstick to poke holes all the way down in the cookie, in any pattern you like.
Refrigerate the formed cookies (you can just put the piece of parchment paper you used into the refrigerator) for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Bake cookies, spaced out, on parchment paper or a reusable silicon baking mat for 12-15 minutes, or until starting to lightly brown. The cookies should not spread too much, but it's best to leave plenty of room just in case.
Remove cookies and cool on a wire rack. They are best enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea!