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Russian Tea Biscuits

I've posted this recipe before to other journals, I'm sure, and it's basically a slight variation on the ur-Recipe that is all over the internet, but I'm still going to post it.

These are not the powdered sugar Christmas cookie that goes by various probably-inaccurate country names (Russian tea cakes/Mexican wedding cookies). Instead, they're a fist-size breakfast pastry most closely resembling a hulked-out rugelach. And they're basically a Cleveland thing -- every coffee shop had them, growing up, and most groceries had their terrible rendition. As far as I can tell, no one is quite sure how they ended up named "Russian", except perhaps that it indicated raspberry somehow.

russian tea biscuits

  • 4 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • 1/4 c. melted butter
  • 1/4 c. orange juice and 1 tsp. grated rind
  • 4 eggs (use 3 eggs plus 1 yolk, save 1 white)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  • 12 oz jar of raspberry jam (or any kind of jam or preserves)
  • 1 1/2 c. walnuts (or other nuts), chopped
  • 2 c. raisins (regular or golden, or another dried fruit)


  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. sugar (granulated is more traditional, but large crystal can be pretty too)
  • 1 egg white


Mix dry dough ingredients; separately mix oil, juice, rind, eggs, and vanilla. Beat wet ingredient mixture and melted butter into dough using dough hook on mixer, or by hand. Knead dough (again using dough hook or by hand), refrigerate overnight or at least 2 hours until thoroughly chilled.

Separate dough into 4 equal parts. Roll each part into a 7 inch by 11 inch rectangle (slightly smaller than a sheet of paper) on a floured board or on waxed paper.
russian tea biscuits
Spread with 1/4 of jar of jam, then sprinkle with 1/4 of nuts and 1/4 of raisins.
russian tea biscuits
Roll up jelly-roll style, rolling up the long way and making a 7-inch long roll.
russian tea biscuits
Slice into four 1 1/2 inch slices, place at least an inch apart on lightly greased or parchment-covered baking sheet, ideally one with a lip as the jam can ooze. Brush top with beaten egg white; sprinkle with sugar mixture. You will probably not need all of the sugar mixture.
russian tea biscuits
(These pictures are actually from a double batch where I made them slightly smaller -- 20/batch rather than 16, and crammed them all onto two jelly roll pans, closer than they really should have been. That's about as small as I'd recommend going if you want smaller ones, before the dough texture isn't right.)

Bake 25-35 minutes at 350F, or until tops are a little bit golden and the middle is longer raw dough. Remove from baking sheet and cool on rack.

Additional flavor combinations are always fun. Pick a jam, a nut, a dried fruit, and a spice for the sugar topping and go crazy. Or add chocolate chips, although they can get too sweet very quickly.
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