A couple of years ago, to pique my son’s interest in cooking during the tween years where it can quickly wane after lots of little-person enthusiasm when they’re younger, we started exploring different cuisines and over a month it would be our themed culture that we’d explore, find recipes for, look at where it was on the map and how many people live there… it was a really nice way to spend more time in the kitchen together and learn together, where often as a parent you’re doing all the teaching.
Poland was on our list and, with a couple of lovely Polish coaches at our tennis club, it was extra nice to be able to bring them some pierogi (Polish potato dumplings), golabki (stuffed cabbage leaves) and these… ciasteczka.
I love a good shortbread bikkie and probably about once a month we’ll make a nice batch of them, either my vanilla shortbreads or now these, firmly in the family biscuit repertoire and approved by Piotr and Pawel to boot!
Something I found to be different with Eastern European pastries, batters and biscuits is the inclusion of farmer’s cheese such as cottage cheese, or sour cream, as well as overall lower usage of sugar. Now, for dairy-free peeps aside who I get that isn’t ideal for, what is good about it is higher protein/nutrients, lower sugar and I can attest to the effect. You feel genuinely satisfied much sooner in the piece, even when a cookie was a craving! Gotta be a good thing, right?
You can sub coconut yoghurt for the sour cream portion of this if you prefer less dairy it will work fine. I haven’t tried a butter substitute yet for fully dairy-free, so if you happen to, do let me know how you go so that I can add that substitution in for dairy-free peeps in the community.
Enjoy this little taste of Poland, a country doing so much for its neighbour, Ukraine, while it’s under attack.
Ciasteczka Bezglutenowe - Polish gluten free biscuits
- 2 oven baking trays stainless steel preferable
- 2 sheets of baking paper if you want an easy nonstick OR spray your trays with olive oil or coconut spray and dust with flour for grandma's non-stick method.
- 1 food processor or thermomix You can mix this pastry by hand also, but it makes light work of about 10 seconds in a food processor or thermomix if you have one.
Brushing and dusting
- 1 eggwhite whisked and ready to brush on biscuits before they go into the oven
- 1 tablespoon organic icing sugar for dusting onto the biscuits once they are cooled and ready to serve
- 2 tbsp flour (whatever you have, buckwheat or tapioca) for dusting the bench to bring your dough into a roll/log
- Pop into your food processor the sugar, baking powder and flours and pulse for 3 seconds
- Add in the butter, egg yolk, sour cream and vanilla bean paste and blend in the processor for 5-6 seconds or until it just comes together as a cookie dough. For thermomix, do this on speed 5-6 for 5 seconds.
- Dust your bench with flour and then tip out your biscuit dough onto the bench. Work it very briefly into a solid mass to catch any little breakaway bits, and then you have two options:
- Option 1: Roll out as a flat, 5mm thick pastry sheet and use a cookie cutter to cut cookie shapes out of it for your Ciasteczka - perfect for Christmas or themed birthdays/halloween
- Option 2: Roll gently into a log about 4cm thick, ready to cut biscuit rounds out of
- Both of the above work optimally if you have time to put the dough in the fridge after either rolling out the sheet and popping onto a chopping board and into the fridge OR after rolling your log, putting the log into the fridge for 30mins before cutting your biscuit disks.
- Which ever you choose to do - I'm lazy so I do the log, cut and arrange onto trays.
- Then, brush each biscuit with eggwhite and bake in a 180C oven for 12-13 minutes or until golden.
- Take out of oven to cool but do not remove from their trays until just warm so that they're stable enough to move - before that they might crumble.
- Once cool, dust with a couple of tablespoons of the organic icing sugar through a fine strainer for that lovely snow effect. You can also skip this step but it's a special occasion bikkie and it's pretty so I do it.
- Switch oven on to pre heat at 180C/350F