I am making Russian Teacakes. They have been refrigerated per the recipe for approximately 4 hours. I cannot roll the Teacakes into balls as the dough is too crumbly. Help!
In the Russian teacake recipes I have seen, there are four main ingredients:
- powdered sugar
If you cannot get your cookies to bind, you need to add more butter (the only ingredient with moisture). If you are refrigerating your dough, make sure to cover it so it does not dry out.
If you do not let this sort of dough warm up a bit after refrigerating, it will frequently crumble. Let the dough sit on the counter for 10-15 minutes and see if it's workable then. I sometimes let a dough like this come nearly all the way back up to room temperature in order to be able to shape it.
If after letting it warm back up, it's still too crumbly to shape, then add a little bit more butter, like mattm suggested.
Funny you ask this question; I just finished making Russian tea-cakes. A bit of vanilla flavouring helps; I usually put in around 2 teaspoons for a batch of 40 (equivalent to 1 cup of butter and 3/4 cup of confectioner's sugar, if my memory serves me).
The trick that I use, which really helps, though, is actually a technique in rolling. We generally think that the way to make roll cookies is to take a blob of batter and simply roll it between the palms of one's hands. This technique works very poorly for Russian Tea Cakes, however, even if the batter is moist enough to work.
It works much better to take a blob of batter of the correct size to make a cookie and squash it flat between the palms of the hands. With the palms squashed against each other, start rolling them around as though you were rolling a cookie, but with your hands virtually touching each other. Slowly release the pressure while continuing to roll until the cookie is round and smooth, and voila!
The advantage of this technique actually also has a hidden benefit: the cookies (form my experience) tend to disintegrate less while coating them in icing sugar after cooking.
Your dough is missing liquid. While the recipes frequently don't list any liquid, if it won't come together, you have to add a few drops (!) for it to form a workable ball.
The amount you need is really tiny. I usually take a teaspoon, fill it half, drizzle it in, and knead for several minutes until I have seen a change in the dough. Only if the dough is still tearing instead of sticking after that do I add a second half teaspoon. If you have a pipette handy, that might work even better. Remember, you want to have the least amount of liquid you can get away with, and you can never take out water after you have added it, so go very cautious with it.