Heritage Open Days 2021 | Dora Gordine’s Recipes
Dora Gordine took great pride in cooking and entertaining. When Dorich House was built, she equipped the kitchen with new American style appliances, with the exception of a traditional Russian coffee pot that she used to ceremoniously prepare coffee for guests. Even towards the end of her life, when she didn’t have much interest in cooking for herself, she still made sure visitors to Dorich House were welcomed with coffee or one of the many varieties of tea in her extensive collection, and a sweet treat. Poppyseed cake and “lemon delight” are mentioned frequently in entries in her visitors’ books, and although her recipes for these were not amongst the paperwork she left behind, we do have a fragile sheet of paper in our archives containing four of Dora’s handwritten recipes for other teatime treats.
For this year’s ‘Edible England’ themed Heritage Open Days, we’re sharing two of her recipes so you can try making the same baked goods that Dora served to her friends. Because her instructions aren’t very detailed, we’ve made the recipes ourselves and have added some notes below that will help you adapt them to a modern kitchen.
Smorkorr (Despite the unusual name, these are very much like scones.)
250 g flour
3 tsp baking powder
100 g cold margarine or butter (Dora’s recipe called for margarine, but butter works just as well, and we prefer the flavour.)
15 g sugar
1/4 tsp salt (You can skip this if using salted butter or margarine, but we highly recommend adding salt if using unsalted butter, as they will be a little bland without it.)
1/5 of a pint milk (approximately 113 ml)
75 g butter (softened)
25 g sugar
1 egg (for egg wash)
Preheat oven to 180C or Gas Mark 4. Stir together the flour, baking powder, 15 g of sugar, and salt (if using). Add in 100 g of margarine or butter cut into small pieces and rub the mixture together with your fingers until it forms coarse crumbs. Add the milk and stir just until the dough comes together. Form into a disk on a floured surface.
Mix the 75 g of softened butter and 25 g of sugar together. Spread this mixture over the top of your dough. Dora’s instructions called for rolling the dough out like this, but in our experience, this creates a buttery mess, so we would recommend pulling up the edges of the dough and tucking them over the butter/sugar mix so the butter is encased in dough. Roll out the dough into a circle 1 cm thick. Cut the circle into twelve wedges. Place wedges a few cm apart on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Beat the egg together with a splash of water and lightly brush on top of each wedge before baking. Dora’s recipe advised baking them for 20 minutes, but they only took 16-18 min in our oven, so check them around the 15 minute mark. They are done when they are lightly browned on the top and bottom. Enjoy warm with jam and a cup of Dora’s famous cardamom-infused coffee or your choice of tea (Dora was partial to lotus tea).
Kisses (These are similar to shortbread.)
150 g flour
100 g cold butter
50 g sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cream (single or double, even milk will do)
Preheat oven to 140C or Gas Mark 1. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub together with the flour to make coarse crumbs. Stir in the sugar and salt, then mix in the egg yolk and cream until the dough comes together. Shape the dough into a disk and roll it out on a floured surface. We rolled them to a thickness of 1/2cm, but ours took twice as long to cook as Dora recommended, so she probably rolled hers much thinner. Cut out small ‘kisses’ in a shape of your choosing. Dora didn’t specify a size or shape, so we used a shot glass to make small circles, but you can easily cut out small diamonds or squares with a knife instead if you don’t have a small glass or biscuit cutter. You can reroll the scraps and cut out more kisses. Transfer the kisses to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. They don’t really spread, so you can put them fairly close together. Bake for about 15-30 min or until the edges just begin to brown. The baking time will vary quite a lot depending on how thick the biscuits are, and you may need to bake them slightly longer if your biscuits are a larger diameter than ours. Let cool.
These are a rather bland biscuit, so we recommend sandwiching two together with a bit of jam or buttercream icing (or both) after the kisses cool. Very nice with tea!