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Russian tea biscuits


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I posted a picture of a Russian tea Biscuit from a Cleveland bakery on flickr and someone asked me what it was. I decided to google up a little background information and was sorely disappointed. Now, I'm determined to root out their history. Er... well, I'm determined to ask you fine folks about it, anyway.

First, to avoid confusion, a Russian tea biscuit looks like this:131383081_e9e1556971_m.jpg

In Cleveland, they're a common item at Jewish bakeries and delis.

An eGullet search turned up only information about Russian tea cakes. The excellent foodsubs.com says that Rusian tea cakes are identical to Russian tea biscuit but that contradicts my experience. Foodsubs' idea of a Russian tea biscuit/cake is what we might call a Mexican wedding cookie. Google turned up several recipes but absolutely no information about the context or the history. At least it confirmed my impression that a Russian tea cake is a Mexican wedding cookie and that neither is a Russian tea biscuit.

The other interesting result from my googling was that Cleveland was mentioned in seven pages on the first page of Google results. I'd never really given any thought to whether RTB's were authentically Russian, but I think that I always assumed that they were common in American Jewish delis from New York to Miami Beach.

So, do you have these where you're from? What's their history?

Thanks for your help

Edited by stuart_s (log)
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They also sell them in Israel.

Here is a picture of them from my blog from last year. Scroll down to the last picture in that entry.

I don't know if they call them Russian tea biscuits because they are large. The are the size of a strudel and you cut them in slices. They are filled with various dried fruits and candied fruit.

I will ask about them at the bakery tomorrow.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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From your photograph I'm not sure of the texture of the pastry (similar to strudel, but thicker, or is it a yeasted dough?), so the following is more of a guess:

Maybe Polish in origin?

The standard German book I use for baking has various pastries that look very similar to your picture, with various possible fillings such as ground poppy seed, dried fruits, etc. The origin is not usually given, but at least one of these is meant to be from Silesia. Rather than explaining Silesian history and where it is I'm putting the link to a Wikipedia article on it here.

In addition, there are quite a lot of foods brought from Poland and sold here in Berlin, particularly around Christmas-time. Your photo looks awfully similar to what some of the people sell.

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I'm in Cleveland ( waving hi) :cool:

And the texture of the ones I've eaten was between that of a rich bisquit and a flaky pastry dough.

I've had them stuffed with raisins, but also filled with strawberry jam. They are very, very good!


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It looks like a giant rugallach....

cream cheese pastry wrapped around a jammy filling...

usually bite sized


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Christine007 (*waves*) described it better than I did. It is like a rich biscuit or cookie. It's different from the cream cheese pastry of a rugelach which these very same bakeries also sell. Generally I would have to go to a different bakery for strudel which is also a different thing.

Swisskaese's photo seems to match. I'll ask about them the next time that I'm at the right bakery although that probably won't be tomorrow. I'd love to hear about it if your baker knows anything.

Thanks everyone.

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