This is my everyday cookie recipe. It’s super easy because you don’t even need to roll the dough and use cookie cutters, just cut the cooled dough in slices. We use this very basic shortcrust recipe for many purposes from Christmas Cookies (Weihnachtsplätzchen) to pie crust.
There is no source or reference for this recipe, it’s considered folk wisdom here. I learned it from Grandma who probably learned it from hers and so on. Some people refer to this dough as 1-2-3-Teig (1-2-3-Dough) because that’s how the ingredients are measured: one part sugar, two parts fat, three parts parts flour. These proportions refer to the weight of the ingredients, they don’t work with volume measurements. I converted the measurements for my standard recipe for you. It makes about 40 cookies (2 inches in diameter each):
1 part = 100 grams sugar = 1/2 cup
2 parts = 200 grams fat (vegan butter or margarine) = 7/8 cup
3 parts = 300 grams flour = 2 cups + 1 TBL
As you can see, there is no additional binding agent. Which is why this dough only works if you keep everything cold. Cold ingredients, cold kitchen supplies, cold hands. I mix it in a metal bowl that I cool under very cold water before use so even the mixing bowl is cold. The butter needs to be very cold and firm. If you’re using vegan margarine I recommend you put it in the freezer for an hour or so to make it firmer.
Cut the very cold butter in chunks and place them in a cold, large bowl. Sift the flour over the butter chunks. Mix flour and butter chunks with your hands quickly, using your fingers to squish the butter chunks. Both ingredients will make a smooth dough in about a minute. Don’t knead too long, it gets crumbly very quickly.
When the flour and butter are just combined, add the sugar and knead in quickly. As soon as all ingredients are mixed, stop kneading. Form the dough into a roll of about 2 inches in diameter, firmly wrap the roll into cling film and keep it in the fridge for at least an hour. I keep it in a metal dish and add the knife I’m going to use to cut the cookies. That way, the knife is cold, too.
Set a timer so you don’t forget to preheat the oven to 180C/356F at least 15 minutes before the cooling time for the dough is over. Take the dough out of the fridge and unwrap. It will be very firm now. You can now cut the dough in even slices of about 0.4 cm / 1/16 inch.
Line a baking tray with parchment and even the edges of the cookies a bit with your fingers before you place them on the baking tray. I bake them in two batches, the dough makes about 40 cookies, they wouldn’t fit on one tray. Put the tray in the oven and bake for about 9-10 minutes. I start to watch the cookies after 8 minutes because they burn quickly. They will melt a little while baking. When the sides
start to brown, they’re done but still tender. Take the cookies from the baking tray quickly and let them cool on a cooling tray. Even if you work with two baking trays, it’s not enough to take the tray out of the oven. It’s still hot enough to burn the cookies after taking them out of the oven. They are still a little soft when they’re fresh from the oven and need to cool completely to firm up and turn crispy.
The one negative thing about those shortcrust cookies? They need to rest for a couple of days in a cookie jar or tin to reach their perfect texture.
Once you’ve mastered working with this shortcrust dough, the variations are endless:
- Sprinkle them with sugar before baking.
- Add lemon zest to the dough and cover the cookies with lemon icing after cooling.
- Add chopped hazelnuts to the dough.
- Stick two cookies together with a layer of homemade raspberry fudge in the middle. Dip those double decker cookies in dark chocolate and let them cool.