Mrs Sarantides’s shortbread biscuits
Rose ‘Dorothea’ Sarantides and three of her children, Irini, Stelios (Stanley) and Andrew, arrived in Australia in 1923.
They were one of many Greek families who had been living in Smyrna (now Izmir) in Turkey, and were forced to flee the country when all non-Turkish people were expelled during a period of political turmoil.
In Sydney they were reunited with Dorothea’s other sons, Emmanuel and Athas (Arthur), who had immigrated to Australia in 1914.
Like most immigrants, the Sarantides brought their food culture with them.
Dorothea lived at 60 Gloucester Street in Susannah Place, The Rocks, between 1936 and 1946. She made traditional Greek-style food at home, including stingray flaps fried in olive oil and ‘rissoles’ or meatballs flavoured with garlic and red wine. Dorothea’s English was poor, but she endeared herself to neighbours, handing gifts of food over the fence.
The Sarantides kitchen as you see it today at Susannah Place Museum is furnished according to the oral histories of Dorothea Sarantides’s grandchildren, Kay Kallas and her brother George Adaley.
Kay has passed on some of her grandmother’s recipes, including this one for Dorothea’s Kou-ra-piedes, delicious Greek biscuits enriched with brandy.
- 250 g unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1/4 cup icing sugar (plus extra, to dust)
- 1 egg yolk
- 400 g self-raising flour, sifted
- icing sugar, extra, to dust
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the colour begins to deepen. Remove from the heat and add the brandy. Set aside to cool.
Transfer the cooled butter and brandy mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the icing sugar and egg yolk and stir with a wooden spoon until blended through and smooth.
Sift the flour and add it to the butter mixture half a cup at a time, stirring with a wire whisk to prevent lumps forming. Once the mixture thickens, stir it with a wooden spoon until you have a nice soft dough. Knead the dough lightly to form a smooth malleable dough that is not sticky. Allow the dough to rest for an hour before shaping the biscuits.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced) and line a baking tray with baking paper. Take a walnut-sized piece of the dough and roll it in your hands to from a ball. Resting it in the palm of one hand, work it into an elongated football shape, roughly 1-1.5 cm thick. Place it onto the baking tray and turn the ends inwards to make a crescent shape and repeat with the rest of the dough.
Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly coloured.
Allow to cool slightly then transfer to a wire rack. When completely cooled, dust with sifted icing sugar.
Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.