Anyone who grew up in the Cleveland, Ohio area will remember those delicious Russian tea biscuits. However, if you research the history of Russian tea biscuits, you would find out that they did not originate from Russia. The Russian tea cakes, which resemble Mexican wedding cookies, are very different from this sweet and satisfying biscuit.
This traditional dessert originated from the large number of Jewish immigrants that settled in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and they were eaten as a snack with tea or as a dessert for supper. They were called Russian tea biscuits because many of the Jewish people who settled there were immigrants from Russia.
These biscuits were found in bakeries all over the Cleveland area, especially the Jewish bakeries. They do look like giant rugelach (traditional Jewish cookies). They are different from regular biscuits, which you can learn how to make by clicking on the accompanying video. The Russian tea biscuits have a flavor all their own, and are filled with nuts, raisins, and raspberry jam. They keep fresh for a week in a covered container in the fridge, or you can freeze them for up to 3 months.
Russian tea biscuits
- 4 and 1/4 cups of flour
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup of cooking oil
- 1/4 cup of melted butter (or margarine)
- 1/4 cup of orange juice
- 1 teaspoon of grated orange rind
- 4 eggs (use 3 eggs plus 1 yolk, save 1 white)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- butter or non stick cooking spray to grease the pan
- Raspberry jam or preserves
- 1 and 1/2 cup of chopped nuts
- 1 and 1/2 cup of raisins
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1 egg white, beaten
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add the melted butter, cooking oil, orange juice, rind, eggs, and vanilla and mix well.
- Knead the dough and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Cut the dough into 4 parts and roll on a floured board.
- Spread each section evenly with the jam, chopped nuts, and raisins.
- Roll each section like a jelly roll and brush the tops with the beaten egg white.
- Mix the teaspoon of cinnamon with the 1/4 cup of sugar and sprinkle on the top of each rolled section.
- Slice into 1 and 1/2 inch slices and place 1 and 1/2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet.
- Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.