The other thing I ate in Sydney, every day, was those crescent-shaped Greek shortbread biscuits. During the day, I would descend into the glorious depths of the David Jones Food Hall, and buy one — just one — fat, icing-sugar covered biscuit; I would save it for the evening, back in my hotel room, where I would nibble away with my evening cup of tea. Invariably I would inhale as I took the first bite, and cough from the icing sugar. Every time! They were deliciously short and rich all at once. I made a note to search out recipes for them when I got home.
Back in Tassie, I visited mum and dad, and sampled the Russian tea cakes mum had baked, which were not cakes at all but buttery little biscuits made with crushed walnuts and smothered in great clouds of icing sugar. Again, I inhaled and spluttered. I gobbled so many of these morish morsels that mum actually told me to stop eating them (or was that the chocolate biscuit slice she also had laid out?). So I took the recipe to make my own.
These are not true shortbreads, but it’s a better description than ‘tea cakes’ (and I’m not sure what is Russian about them. Are they served with borscht and vodka?). They are not as crumbly as the Greek kourambiethes I enjoyed in Sydney, but they are sort of the closest thing right now. I’m very happy with them. I just have to remember not to inhale.
From a magazine cutting without a title on it. I halved the original recipe and made about 14 biscuits the size of small walnuts.
- Preheat your oven to 180 and prep some baking trays.
- Cream 115 gms soft butter with ½ tspn vanilla (I used the extract with speckles) and ¼ cup icing sugar.
- Using a wooden spoon, beat in 1 cup plain flour, 1/8 tspn salt, then a heaped 1/3 cup finely-chopped walnuts (these are small biscuits, so you want small pieces). You may need to get in with your hands and squeeze the dough together.
- Roll small balls of dough and place on the baking trays. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool. This and other recipes I checked said to roll the cooked biscuits in icing sugar while still warm. I found the icing sugar seemed to disappear – either it didn’t stick, or melted, or was absorbed – so next time I would wait til they were a little cooler.