Sunday, 4 November 2012

Russian Shortcake

After making many sponge cakes – both big and small - with rich buttercreams and frostings, I had a hankering for something simpler and more biscuity this week.  I must confess from the off that I don’t know whether this is a Russian recipe or whether it’s acquired that name somewhere along the line.  I can’t see anything about the recipe that screams “Russian” at me but it’s as good a name as any and makes it sound more exotic than sultana spice slice!

I was disappointed with my topping when I made it – it looked ugly and I scrapped the first batch (my fault for not sifting the icing sugar).  I was ready to advise you to make a simple glace icing instead...but then I tasted it.  Yum.  It doesn’t look particularly elegant but boy does it pack flavour and it also has a gentle sugary crunch to it which is surprising given its butteriness.

The biscuit part isn’t crisp – I was expecting shortbread (foolish, given that it’s called shortcake!) – it’s a halfway house between biscuit and cake.  This is the sort of bake that you sit down with a cup of tea and think, ‘I’ll just have one or two’, and then realise you’ve eaten half the batch!


For the base:
145g unsalted butter
145g light brown sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
260g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
150g sultanas

For the topping:
30g unsalted butter
60g icing sugar – sifted (NB.  I never sift anything but you must here, otherwise your topping will look lumpy and gross)
10g caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon – you can also use ginger, if you prefer


Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/gas mark 5.

Grease a 30cm x 20cm tin – I used a disposable foil one.

Start by making the base: melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup together until the butter is just melted.

Leave to cool.

Beat the egg and vanilla together.

Add the melted butter mix, flour, baking powder and sultanas and mix well.  Don’t expect a biscuit dough texture – it’s more like the shiny gloopiness of gingerbread.

Spread into the prepared tin and level the surface.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the base feels firm.  Mine took exactly 20 minutes.

About halfway through the cooking time, start making the topping: melt the butter and then stir in the remaining ingredients.

Stir well and spread over the hot base as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Leave to cool before cutting into fingers.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.



Soo said...

Looks yummy. And today is definitely a sitting in with a good film, cup of tea and Russian Shortcake sort of Sunday!!

Cakeyboi said...

Looks lovely, I was thinking shortbread too until I read - I'm sure Rasputin would have approved : )

Susie @ Fold in the Flour said...

Mmm - looks great and just the sort of thing to have with a cuppa.

Debs Dust Bunny said...

What a lovely recipe. Best of all, I have everything I need in the shopping required.

Thanks! : )

MissCakeBaker said...

This looks great - I love this kind of cake - great for a Sunday afternoon with a cup of tea!

Caroline said...

Sounds tasty, and an interesting topping too.

Nom! The Indulgent Baking Blog said...

I could definitely go for some of this tonight :)

Jo said...

Looks yummy. For some reason I think the finger shape makes them more addictive. "Oh it's thin, not very much really, I can definitely justify eating another...and another!"

fallen from flavour said...

steaming hot tea and 5 slices of these please!

sensibilia said...

An interesting recipe, wonder why it is called "Russian". I do think that there is something particularly satisfying about a cross between a cake and a biscuit. It takes longer to eat than cake, (useful for greedy people like me,who want to prolong the delight) but is less dry than biscuit,and more filling.

Recipe Junkie said...

Oh I know that - "I'll just have one bit" feeling all too well ...

Lucy said...

Love this unusual recipe - I can definitely see how it would be very moreish!

Cakelaw said...

These look superb, and I specially love the sound of the topping.

Choclette said...

Russian or otherwise, I now feel the urge to make shortcake.

Baking Addict said...

Sounds good to me! Sometimes simple is best :)

Jacqueline said...

It looks a bit like tablet on top. Yum!

Kate@whatkatebaked said...

I love that is a Russian Shortcake- does it come with a complimentary glass of very, very good vodka? (excuse the blatant streotype!)

Laura loves cakes said...

I would certainly partake of one or two slices of this with my morning tea. I'm rather partial to sultanas in a bake too and I would imagine that the flavour is great with the golden syrup and brown sugar! :-)

sensibilia said...

Help, CC! I made this last night, and the base turned out fine, really tasty (although I think flatter than yours, didn't rise - is it meant to?)

The topping was a disaster. It didn't seem nearly enough to cover the tin size and also it didn't spread it sort of just stuck. So I put it back in the pan to melt it a bit more (thinking in my silly little head that this would make it spread more easily) but that didn't work either and it started to turn into fudge! What do you advise?

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Sensibilia

I'm assuming you sieved the icing sugar - I didn't first time and ended up with something unusable.
The topping is a bit thick and hard to spread - it's important to have it ready as soon as the base comes out the oven so that the heat of that works with you and lets you (just about) spread it out.

Hope this helps

Happy baking

sensibilia said...

Thanks for your speedy reply, CC. I liked the overall result, so will try again when the first batch has been eaten up. I think maybe I was expecting it to cover like a thick version of glace icing and was therefore too impatient. If you found it hard, that explains why I found it much harder!

Laura said...

Would this still work if I soaked the raisons in rum first? Not sure if they would sink to the bottom or make the mixture too wet?

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Laura

I don't think it would be an issue - the biscuit dough is much firmer than say a sponge batter so I don't think sinkage would be an issue

Happy baking

Laura said...

I am happy to say after 3 days of soaking the raisons didn't sink, they were so yummy I've made them again since. I made your rum and raison cup cakes last weekend and they were fab, I think you've got me addicted to baking with rum!