Vegan Raspberry Oat Shortbread

IMG_2593     This Vegan Raspberry Oat Shortbread is buttery, with a light crunch from the oats and almonds, and sweetness from the raspberry jam.  This is more of a delicate shortbread–amazing with tea, or any time.  Other raspberry bars on this site include Ottolenghi Raspberry Oat Bars (thicker and nuttier with a touch of caramel), and plain Raspberry Oat Bars (more of a rustic crumble bar).  Yes, it would seem I have a thing for raspberry bars. . .


Makes:  16 squares

1 Cup all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon cold vegan butter (Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
3/4 Cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 Cup slivered almonds
1/4 Cup raspberry jam  (I like Dickinson’s Red Raspberry)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/16th teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Butter an 8-inch baking pan and put it in the fridge.  Mix the jam with the vanilla and almond extracts, stirring until it’s a somewhat smooth consistency, and then leave it out at room temperature.  In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar and salt.  Then add oats and pulse a few times.  Cube the vegan butter and add it, pulsing until the mixture starts to cling together in bits.  Then add almonds and pulse just until incorporated.  The idea is NOT to grind up the almonds–you just want them in pieces throughout the dough. We also do NOT want to overwork the dough, it’s going to be a bit crumbly.

Set aside 1/2 Cup of the dough.  Press the rest GENTLY but evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Spread the raspberry jam evenly over the dough, leaving at least a 1/4 inch-wide border (in other words, do not spread the jam all the way to the edges).  Sprinkle the reserved dough evenly over the jam.

Bake until the edges are starting to turn golden, about 20-23 minutes.  Within 5-10 minutes, run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen.  You can also make your cuts after about 10 minutes, cutting straight down (do not use a sawing motion).  The end of a thin flat spatula works well for this.  The shortbread will firm as it cools.  Store in fridge, but bring to room temperature before serving.

Notes:  This recipe took me three tries to get right.  I started out adding fresh raspberries but the end result was then too gooey and wet.  I pressed the dough too firmly in the pan and it was hard to cut into squares, and a bit tough.  I also found that for best results, it kind of matters in which order you process the dough ingredients.
IMG_2588  Leave the edges of the dough bare, as the jam will spread on its own.

Vegan Tart Dough

This dough is adapted from the  Tart and Pie Dough by Alice Waters.  I have veganized it simply by substituting Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, instead of cow butter.  This dough is tender, buttery, flaky and crisp, as any tart dough should be.  Don’t let this lattice crust distract you, this is a tart dough that can also be used for pies.  There is also a pate sucree (sweet tart dough) that can be used, and I have not tried veganizing that yet (but I will).  In a pate sucree, we need to eliminate the egg, as well as change the fat.
Vegan Tart and Pie Dough

Makes two 10-ounce balls of dough, enough for two 11-inch tarts or one double-crust 9-inch pie.

This recipe is easily halved or doubled. You can make this recipe a day or two ahead. This freezes well, and can be kept in freezer for two months.  This is also good for savory tarts and galettes.

½ Cup ice water
2 Cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
12 Tablespoons (1.5 sticks) cold Earth Balance Buttery Sticks vegan butter, cut into small (1/4 inch) cubes

-Put rolling pin into the freezer.
-Put cut-up vegan butter cubes into the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
-Have some bench flour at your side.
-Mix together flour and salt.
-Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into flour, leaving some of the butter in larger pieces (this will take a couple of minutes).
-Pour in three quarters of the ice water while stirring with a fork, until dough just begins to form clumps.
-Add rest of water if needed.
-Gather dough gently into a shaggy ball and then cut it in two.
-Compress each dough ball into a disc and wrap in parchment paper.
-Let dough discs “rest” in refrigerator for at least one hour, or for two days if you like.  This rest is critical for ease of rolling.

You can roll out the dough on the parchment paper that you wrapped the dough in. The way I do this is to crease/fold one inch of the long paper edge over my counter edge, and then I lean on that edge to hold the paper in place. Either way, flour your surface and your chilled rolling pin. Roll from the center out away from you. Lift and give the dough a quarter turn after each couple of rolls. Flip the dough over every couple of times, and smooth a little flour on the dough or the rolling pin to keep it from sticking. Pinch together any cracks in the dough, but don’t stress. You want about 1/8” thickness when you’re done. Once you’re done rolling, dust off any excess flour with the light touch of a dish towel, your hands, or a soft dry brush.

If making a flat rustic tart (with no pan), place crust onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. To move the dough, lift an edge of the dough and curl/place it onto your rolling pin and roll the dough partly onto the pin and lift it this way. A flat spatula can sometimes help too, if you don’t have a pastry scraper. Put dough back into refrigerator to chill, baking sheet and all. If fruit is very wet, spread about one Tablespoon of flour evenly in a circle on the dough, leaving a two-inch border free of flour at the entire edge of the circle. Pile on fruit and fold and crimp the two-inch un-floured border of dough up over the fruit.  Sugar the top of this pleated dough edge.

If filling a tart pan, put dough right into the tart pan, and trim and/or crimp the edges and place the dough and pan back in the refrigerator to firm up before filling and finishing.  If fruit is wet, brush bottom of tart (not sides) with a tablespoon of flour (to keep bottom crust from getting soggy).  This Tablespoon of flour can be mixed with sugar, chopped nuts or ground spices if you likeOr, instead of the Tablespoon of flour, you could spread a couple of tablespoons of jam on the bottom of your tart pastry but this works best for fruit that’s only slightly juicy.  Bake tart according to your filling directions. You will want your tart pan on the lower rack. I’m not brave enough to put it on the bottom rack, so I put it one rack above the bottom, but bottom rack is suggested by Alice Waters. To make my cherry pie, I had my oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The chilled dough hitting the hot oven will give it a good puff.

To bake this crust “blind” (without a filling), line the shell with a piece of parchment paper, then fill tart with a layer of dried beans or pie weights. Bake in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edge. Take empty tart out of oven, remove parchment paper and weights. Return to oven and cook another 5 to 7 minutes, until tart is an even, light golden brown.

Additional tips from Alice Waters are to glaze the tart after baking. You can do this with the fruit juice in the tart itself, or heat up a little jam and glaze it with that.  Other cookbooks suggest heating apple jelly and I like this idea because it would be clear and let the fruit shine through.  Fruit should be fitted snugly in the tart because it will shrink as it bakes.  If using really tart fruits such as rhubarb, tart plums, sour cherries or apricots, sprinkle top of fruit with another tablespoon or two of sugar before dotting with butter.  Another way to create a barrier between the pastry and the juice is to spread about 1/2 Cup of frangipane (a mixture of almond paste, sugar and butter) over the pastry (I have also seen someone just use almond paste from the supermarket, but I don’t yet know if almond paste has egg in it).

Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening

Vegan Shortening.  Whether you’re making pie crusts or biscuits or donuts or French fries or fine pastry, shortening is often called for.  In the past, shortening was made of animal fats, and sometimes, it still is.   Products like Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening  and  Earth Balance Natural Shortening Sticks have made it possible to have flaky, delectable food without shedding blood.  After hunting around, I found the Spectrum shortening at my local health food store, although it was not with the butter.  The grocery stores around here only had the bad stuff (Crisco).  I wish I had bought the Earth Balance sticks, however, just for ease of measuring.  Maybe next year.

Vegan Pie Crust – Vegan Pate Brisee

You can make this vegan Pate Brisee pie crust dough in 15 minutes, for both sweet or savory pies and tarts.  You can even make it ahead and just pull it from the freezer the night before.   This is a classic French pastry recipe–I simply switched out the cow butter for Earth Balance Buttery Sticks.  The dough can be a bit crumbly and fragile at first, but in the end, easy to work with, despite the notion that making pie crust is difficult.  I found this simple video on YouTube and it jives with what I’ve read and done before.


Makes one double pie crust or two single 9-inch crusts, for sweet or savory pies and tarts.  For about 8 generous pieces of pie.

2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Cup (2 sticks) cold Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, cut into small one-inch chunks
1/3 to 1/2 Cup ice water

Put vegan butter pieces in freezer for ten minutes.   Prepare a glass of ice water and set aside.   In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt to get it blended (or dry whisk in a mixing bowl).  Add butter and pulse until mixture forms coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds.  Even a few pieces as large as a nickel are good, and the rest around pea size.   (Or, you can use a pastry cutter instead of the food processor)    Add ice water gradually and pulse just until dough begins to hold together, just a few seconds.  You do not want wet dough, because adding too much water will make a less-tender dough.

Gather dough gently into a ball, and cut the ball evenly in two.    Shape dough halves into disks, wrap in parchment paper or wax paper and chill at least one hour or overnight.  Overnight is preferred, so the dough can rest.    Dough can now be frozen for one to three months, depending upon whom you listen to.

To bake the crust, for example in a single-crust pumpkin pie:  Dock the bottom of the crust with a fork.  In other words, just poke the bottom of the pie crust with a fork to make indents all over.  According to “Joy of Cooking,” for pumpkin pie, one would heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and bake filled crust for 15 minutes, and then lower heat to 350 and bake an additional 45 minutes until a knife inserted into filling comes out clean (please note this is for pumpkin pie which requires longer cooking, so please refer to your filling recipe here).  Also, use a pie crust shield ring so the exposed crust edge does not burn!  If you don’t have a pie shield, an old household trick is to crumple tin foil all around the edge of the crust.

Note:  To make empanada dough, simply replace 1/2 Cup of the All Purpose flour with 1/2 Cup of fine corn meal (not coarse).