It’s funny how childhood recollections can drag long minutes into hours. My keenest memories from my primary school years involve what seemed like an age whipping eggwhites for pavlovas, stirring [and burning, as mum keeps reminding me…] the lentils, and crushing pecans by fork for Russian teacakes. Every time mum baked, she would at least double the quantity the recipe called for, thereby redoubling my fork/whisk efforts.
Now I make my own Russian teacakes at Christmas time. I use a slightly different recipe, and I substitute walnuts for pecans because I prefer their stronger flavour. This year my teacakes are going into take-home packs for my Christmas lunch guests.
Russian teacakes are a celebration cookie for cultures spanning different continents, including Russia, the UK and Mexico. The Russian teacake is a type of pastry known as a jumble. With this in mind, I have already decided that my next batch of this mixture will be baked into pastry cases.
Recipe #60: Russian teacakes. Makes 36-48.
You will need:
► 250g butter, softened
► the seeds of 1 vanilla pod [either scrape out a vanilla pod or substitute 1 tsp vanilla essence]
► ½ cup pure icing sugar, sifted
► ¾ cup crushed walnuts [or pecans]
► ¼ tsp salt
► 2¼ cups plain flour, sifted
► extra icing sugar, for rolling
Begin by crushing the nuts. I use a mortar & pestle these days; you can also use a fork or a blender on pulse. Set the nuts to one side. Add the butter, vanilla and the ½ cup icing sugar to a mixing bowl and whisk until well combined.
Stir through the flour, salt and crushed nuts until you form a dry dough. Chill the dough for at least 20 minutes.
Using a teaspoon, spoon the mixture onto a lined baking tray. Bake in a 200°C oven for 10-15 minutes, or until their edges are tinged with colour.
Plunge the teacakes into a bowl of icing sugar while they are still warm and lightly press the sugar onto them.
Allow to cool on a rack or wooden chopping board before wrapping, storing or eating.
This is an easy recipe with a melt-in-your-mouth result. I hope you try it out for yourself.