Ah marvelous biscotti, An italian twice baked biscuit that has taken root in coffee shops all over the uk !
It’s made from a loaf that is sliced then baked again, the name biscotti is the plural of biscotto which is derived from a latin name meaning twice cooked/baked. But It is also known as cantuccini, given to biscotti biscuits with slight variations in the recipe, for example the use of yeast rather than baking powders.
Our English word of “biscuit” comes from the name biscotto, via the french, though biscuit is just a general name and isn’t in any way referring to twice baking.
This way of baking came about as a great way of preserving “breads,” these dry biscuits can last a long time & people could store them away for winter when food was scarce. It is said that it evolved as a way of making a long life bread to keep Roman armies supplied on the go, So just think, as you chow down on your next biscotti, you’re doing it like a Roman 😉
Apparently the original recipe was found on parchment where these biscuits are originally from in Prato, Tuscany. A nineteenth century pastry chef revived the recipe to give the form we have today, though recipes today contain butter, the original recipe does not have any fat in at all.
I don’t think you can waft past a coffee shop without seeing a jar or shelf full of these biscuits, but the strange thing is they were originally made to dunk in a sweet dessert wine, which to me seems a much more pleasant and civil form of biscuit eating. One piece of supposed info I came cross, claimed dry biscuits like biscotti & almond macaroons were eaten during orgies to soak up alcohol to stop “brewers droop” I’m really hoping this is true …doesn’t paint a pretty picture though, and not something you want to be thinking about while dunking in your tea 😀
Heres a recipe for a chocolate and macadamia biscotti, It comes from a recipe I found in a really old italian cook book years ago, I have altered it down the years, the original was not chocolate but with lemon and pine nuts, I have made so many variations, and this is one of them, You don’t have to use macadamia nuts either, any nut will do.
So go on, have a go…and try with a dessert wine instead of a latte and be like a ROMAN !
YOU WILL NEED:
A mixing bowl and beater
A baking tray around 10-12 inches lined with parchment
A pre-heated oven at 160c
A roman soldier (well it just had to go in there, you never know) 😉
RECIPE: – can make up to 20 slices
70g butter ( at room temperature )
225g caster sugar
330g plain flour
40g Dark cocoa powder
250g macadamia nuts
zest of one orange & half of juice
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
Beat the butter and sugar together until you get a light wet-sand like batter.
Sieve together the dry ingredients and add to butter and sugar and mix together well.
Add the Zest and juice.
Then beat in the eggs, you should now have a sticky dough (don’t panic if it seems too wet, we will deal with that in a moment)
Add in the macadamia’s
Now here’s how we firm it up, place in a floured bowl in the fridge for an hour at least.
After its chilled, tip onto a floured surface and roll into a sausage about just under 2 inches wide, you can dived and make two if you want to.
Place on lined tray and bake at 160c for approximately 25 minutes, until its firm.
Turn oven down to 150c.
When cool enough to handle, slice with a bread knife, making each slice about 1/2 an inch thick.
Place on your lined tray and bake for a further 10 minutes, turning over half way through. You can tell they are about done when the nuts start to brown.
Leave to cool, then keep in container until needed, can keep for two weeks.
You do not have to slice all the loaf if you don’t want a lot of biscuits, You can freeze rest of the loaf not used until required, just make sure its well wrapped to stop freezer burn.
follow the gallery below, click on any image to enlarge ( don’t be alarmed if the amounts look huge in pictures, I take them while working with larger amounts, but the method is the same )
© The cake-shaker 2013