How to Make Russian Sugar Cookies
About Russian Sugar Cookies
I remember eating these often when I was little and I just recently found the recipe again in an old cookbook. The challenging aspect of reproducing soviet recipes in a North American setting is that there are way too many choices, whether it is oven settings or the required ingredients. Soviet recipes were relatively simple, only including the necessary ingredients and preparation methods. Oven temperatures were omitted since there was only one setting, which was "on" and readiness was determined not by the amount of time something has been in the oven for, but by appearance. Figuring out the exact ingredient proportions also took some guessing and experimenting since many Soviet products only came in one particular size. As a result, many recipes call for 1 packet of X or 1 jar of Y, and there are no other hints as to the required quantities.
After a couple of disastrous outcomes, I have finally gotten the cookies to taste just like they did when they came out of my grandma's oven. I really hope you enjoy these Russian sugar cookies and please don't get scared off by the unusual ingredients combination!
The Secret Ingredient
But contrary to what you may be thinking, these cookies are not savory crackers or anything of the sort. In fact, you can't even taste the mayonnaise as you eat these and their texture is close to that of shortbread cookies.
What would you typically make with mayonnaise?
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30-35 minutes
Ready in: 45-50 minutes
Number of cookies: I didn't count them, but there was definitely more than 30. This number will vary, depending on the size of your cookies.
What You'll Need
1 cup (250g) mayonnaise
200 g butter: preferably unsalted, but any kind works
4 cups flour: whole wheat flour is healthier, but I find that using all-purpose white flour for this recipe makes the cookies taste better.
1 cup sugar: white sugar is best for this recipe. Brown sugar will make them too chewy and soft, and that is not a desirable characteristic for this type of cookie.
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract: totally optional, but it gives the cookies that special scent
1tsp baking soda: also optional, but it is what causes the cookies to rise a bit more
Making the Dough
- Preheat oven to 325 F.
- Combine everything except for the flour in a large mixing bowl.
- Gradually add the flour and stir to blend all the ingredients. The dough may appear to be very dry if you add all the flour at once, so I suggest adding it a cup at a time and then mixing well.
- Use a spoon and your hands to thoroughly mix the dough; with some effort, you should be able to make a large ball out of it, without it falling apart.
- Test the dough by trying to roll small balls (around 2-3 tbsp in size), if they fall apart when you do this, your dough isn't ready yet. In this case, you have two options. You can either wait a bit; the butter will further soften, thus making the dough stickier and easier to work with. Or, you can keep mixing the dough until it is of the desired consistency.
Prepping the Dough
Ingredients for the Sugar Glaze
- around one fourth of a cup of white sugar
- 1 egg white
Tip: If your dough is still too dry and crumbly, add an extra egg yolk to it. This can very conveniently be the egg yolk you have left over after preparing the glaze ingredients
- Grease a baking sheet with oil or butter.
- Place the egg white onto a shallow plate.
- Place the sugar onto a different shallow plate.
- Roll balls out of the dough. The size really depends on your preference, but I would say the 'normal' is around 1.5 tbsp of dough per ball. To speed up the process, you can roll all of the dough into balls, prior to dipping in the glaze
- Dip the top of each ball first into the egg white and then into the sugar.
- Place onto the baking sheet, leaving some space, around 3cm in between.
- Lightly press down on the cookies using two fingers or the back of a spoon. It is normal for slight cracks to appear.
The Glazing Procedure
- Bake for around 30-35 minutes. A sugary glaze will form on the top, and the bottoms will get slightly golden. The tops usually stay white, but if you over bake them, they will also get a bit golden.
- Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. The cookies may seem raw since they'll be quite soft, but don't worry. They will harden as they cool.
- Transfer them to a large plate and let cool completely or enjoy them warm.
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© 2018 Janisa