Spring Vegan Butter Cookies with Ume & Salted Sakura

It’s White Day at the weekend in Japan 14th of March, it’s the day when the girls get gifts back from all the guys they sent gifts to on Valentines Day. Plus in the’s Mother’s Day which is earlier than other countries. In Japan they are saying that the Sakura could also be something else that’s early this year, so I wanted to make a new revised Sakura cookie to celebrate all things Spring.

First in Spring comes the ume blossom and I had just recently purchased some Ume Su from Clearspring. It’s lovely to add to sushi rice or make pickles and dressings but I wondered what it would be like added to baked goods, so I decided  to try it out. Using a few other ingredients like rice malt syrup also from Clearspring and the salted preserved Sakura flowers the taste is what sums up spring time for me in Japan. If your in the U.K. Sakura flowers are sold under tea at the Japan Centre. Or you could try your local Asian store or online.

First prepare your Sakura flowers. You will need to soak off the salt that preserves the flowers so pick out ten flowers and add them to a bowl. Pour over warm water and let them soak for ten minutes. Then get some kitchen towel remove the flowers and lay them out on a sheet of the towel and then place another sheet on top, gently press and leave to dry out a little while you do the rest.

To make these cookies you will need to add 1 cup of sifted plain flour to a bowl with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. I used  Doves farm organic plain white flour.

In another bowl you will need to add 1/2 cup around 64gram of vegan butter. I used vegan block by Naturli at room temperature to this add 1/2 cup of caster sugar, I used Billingtons natural unrefined golden caster sugar. Start to cream the sugar and vegan butter together then to this add one tablespoon of Ume Su and one teaspoon of rice malt syrup then start to whip it all up until it’s fluffy.

Add your butter mixture to your flour and start to mix it in. This might take a little time and effort but it will come together. When it starts to clump together more you can use your hand to work it into a dough.

When you have a dough ball wrap it in cling film or in a zip lock bag and put it in the freezer for ten minutes ( At this point I turn on the oven to around 150 fan assisted and do the small amount of washing up.) Then take two sheets of parchment paper and lay one on a baking sheet and the other on a flat surface. Take out your dough ball from the freezer and roll it out on the parchment. You can then use a cookie cutter to cut out what ever shape cookie you would like. I chose hearts for White Day. Use a spatula to lift the cookies onto your baking sheet. Keep cutting and rolling the dough until you have used all the dough. Mine made ten large cookies. Press a single Sakura flower into each cookie and sprinkle with some more sugar.

Bake in the oven on 150 for around 15 mins then turning up the oven to 200 for a final 5-10 minutes. Just keep an eye on them as they do not want to go too brown. Remove from the oven sprinkle with a little more sugar if you want and leave to cool.

These cookies are buttery salty and sweet all in one and the rice malt gives them also a lovely caramel flavour.
Enjoy with a tea or pack them in a bento for a hanami picnic.