This week’s cookbook was published by Murdoch Books, part of a series of themed books that are in equal measure recipe collections and unabashed food porn. There is a photo of every dish, each one designed to make the reader hungry. The book is divided into chapters for baked goods, desserts and pies & tarts, and other than the chapter divisions, there is no rhyme or reason to the way the recipes are collected, so that for example, the 5 cheesecake recipes in the book are to be found in two chapters and none of them on adjacent pages. This makes for interesting browsing. I have found that I can open this book at random and be almost certain to find something I want to try. I have had to eliminate several recipes I would have liked to try because of hard-to-find ingredients.
Note: The tbs called for are 20 ml tbs, rather than 15 ml ones.
The first recipe I chose is Almond, orange and cardamom biscotti
In Italian “biscotti” means “twice baked”, but according to Wikipedia, in Italy the term is used for any type of cookie. In North-America it refers to twice-baked pastries like the ones in this recipe, which in Italy are called “biscotti di Prato”, “cantoucchi” or “cantoucchini”.
I would like to imagine that when J.R.R. Tolkien wrote about lembas, he had something like biscotti in mind.
Makes about 40.
155 g (2/3 cup) firmly packed soft brown sugar
125 g (1 cup) self-rising flour (if you don’t have self-rising flour, use 1 cup plain flour and add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt)
90 g (3/4 cup) plain flour
125 g (1 1/4 cups) almonds
1 tbs finely grated orange zest
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F), or lower temperature as indicated for convection ovens. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Beat the eggs and sugar until light and creamy. Sift the flours into the bowl, add the almonds, zest and cardamom and mix to a soft dough.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, divide in two and shape into two loaves, about 5 x 20 cm (2 x 8 inches) in size.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack. When cool, cut the loaves into 1 cm (2/5 inch) slices with a serrated bread knife. The biscotti will be crumbly on the edges, so work slowly and if you can, hold the sides of the loaves as you cut.
Arrange the slices on baking trays in one layer and return to the oven for 10 minutes on each side. If the slices look like they are not completely dry when removed from the oven, don’t worry – they will become crisp when they cool. Allow to cool before serving.
Great with coffee.
I made this recipe yesterday after I posted it. The dough was EXTREMELY sticky, so sticky that I ended up just forming it into one rough loaf and then I went to scrape a thick layer of gluey dough off my hands. Next time I will wet my hands before handling the dough. The raw loaf looked like a misshapen lump of lava, but it baked up smooth and when I sliced it it looked like biscotti should. In the instructions it says to cool the loaf – I would just let it cool for about 10 minutes and then slice it, because fully cooled it was hard to cut because the crust was so hard. The biscotti are very good, with a mild orangey flavour and just a hint of cardamom.