Sunday, July 20, 2014

Baking, not Beading

Getting ready to put together Russian tea biscuits
My mom came to take care of me in June after I had surgery.  Every time she visits I ask her to bring one thing - Russian tea biscuits.  This time I think she brought me some from Lucy's Sweet Surrender, but I will take them from almost anywhere. If you don't know what these are, you probably haven't visited Cleveland, Ohio.  I search a bit and found their origin is a bit foggy and often confused with Russian tea cakes aka Mexican wedding cookies. You can see here and here that while their origin is mysterious, you can find them all over Cleveland and if you discover them elsewhere, ask if the baker is from northeastern Ohio.

We planned to make Russian tea biscuits last month when she was here.  One thing led to another and we never got around to it.  Yesterday I decided it was time.  I hoarded a number of recipes on Pinterest and decided to make this one from "Do you know a good recipe for...?"  I actually planned to make this recipe from Salon because of the discussion of Cleveland and Lax & Mandel bakery, but some wires were crossed when I got working.  My mom brought from Ohio Braswell's red raspberry jam that turns out to have been made in Statesboro, Georgia.  It is perfect for this recipe.

I had a little help from a small, sleepy sous chef.
I made the dough the day before and refrigerated it.  In the morning, I chopped all the nuts and fruits for the filling.  Since this is Georgia, and I didn't want to make a run to the grocery store, I used pecans instead of walnuts.  My pecans came from a local orchard, Clover Pecan Company, and are the Stuart variety.  I bought them in May at the Valdosta Farm Days market and popped them in the freezer (my favorite way to store nuts, dried chiles, and ginger).  My recipe called for raisins and dates/figs.  I prefer sultans or currants, but those aren't to be found in Valdosta except around the winter holidays so I used golden raisins and dates. Remi and I planted a fig tree this spring which has grown a whopping six fruits.  Next year we should have enough that I will use home grown figs.
Rolled pastry getting an egg white wash and sprinkle of sugar.

I had divided the dough into four parts and as I rolled and filled each I learned a little something useful.  Rolling this dough between sheets of plastic wrap makes it much easier to get it to the proper shape and thickness.  I also discovered that after topping the dough with jam, nuts, raisins, and figs that using the wrap to assist rolling the 14 inch long piece helped me to get a tight roll and to place it seam side down.  After spending some more time in the fridge, the dough logs get sliced, brushed with frothy egg white, and topped with sugar.
Ready to go in the oven.
20 minutes later
They are delicious!  I was worried that I would not get that Cleveland deli taste, but they are so good that I took a few to my brand new neighbors.


  1. Yum! I miss the ones from Dorothy Lane Market in Dayton. Of course I can't eat them anymore, with the gluten and all. Rats.

  2. Mmmmm...I haven't had my breakfast yet this morning and these look yummmmmmy!!!
    I hope you are well and that your surgery wasn't too invasive.

  3. These were delicious - thank you for sending some.