Saturday, 25 June 2011

cantucchini - delicious nutty biscotti that may compromise your dental health

So I’m getting the cantucchini recipe straight now. The first batch were definitely the dentist’s friend, requiring serious dunking, in tea coffee or alcohol to avoid that worrying bite and crunch after which you wondered if that was a nut in your mouth or a fragment of something, that until very recently, had formed part of your dental infrastructure.

The dough should be sticky but not wet. Eggs vary in size, as does opinion about what large means (thank you, Marks and Spencer). If your dough is not sticking together add a little water, drop by drop. Or you could add some alcohol, it will give it a twist, something without too strong a flavour. Not milk, since this is a fat free recipe, let’s not spoil it.

The flavour is light, and the flavour of the nuts is not swamped by the vanilla or the cinnamon. Don’t forget the salt, it makes a big difference, and I am going to buy some fresh baking powder, because I don’t think my first bake rises quite enough. Baking powder does go off.

It’s worth waiting a while before cutting the first bake of the loaf into slices. I have found a very sharp serrated knife works best. I’m also thinking of drying out the almonds a little before starting on this recipe. I skin the almonds by soaking them in boiling water, and that makes them a teeny bit soggy.

All in all, despite this being a two step recipe, it is worth making the effort. The biscotti, apart from being the only thing in my cupboard with that name that is actually cooked twice, keep for ages, if you can hide them from the greedy. They are not too sweet either.

I have mixed nuts and favour some brazil nuts and some hazelnuts as an alternative. I don’t want any fruit in there myself, but some people include raisins or apricots (chopped up).



325g (12oz) plain flour

300g (11oz) caster sugar

1½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. salt

325g (12oz) whole blanched almonds

3 large eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract


Set your oven to Gas Mark 4 (180°C/350°F).

Prepare two baking sheets with baking parchment.

Roughly crush about a third of the almonds (I sometimes use 1/3 almond flour)

Mix the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and almonds.

Whisk the eggs and vanilla together and stir them into the dry ingredients, working it into a stiff dough (I use a fork). If it’s not all sticking together add a few drops of water.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and divide into two.

Roll each half into a sausage and divide again into two, so you have four pieces. I do this because it fits on my baking tray, and makes slightly smaller biscotti.

Put the sausage shaped dough on the lined trays and flatten a little – they will spread a bit, so keep them well spaced.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the logs are well risen and have almost doubled in size.

Leave the oven on.

Cut into slices about 1cm thick. Some people say they should be smaller, but I can’t cut them that small. Don’t worry about leaving space between the slices.

Put the sliced dough back and cook for around 20 minutes more, until they are lightly toasted. Let them cool before storing (or eating).

Makes lots.



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