Featuring these very special Italian biscuits today makes me happy, for several reasons. First, I truly like traditional recipes and Tuscan biscotti, or Cantucci, are as traditional as one can go. Second, these biscuits really rock. And, finally, I am happy because I made it to bake together with the Italian group Quanti Modi Per Fare e Rifare, led by two expat Italians (just like me), Anna and Ornella, writing from Japan and Greece. These gals cook and bake like no others and are always keen to share good hints (recently, they both helped me with my first Panettone).
Today’s post is based on Tiziana‘s recipe, chosen to be re-made by all of us. This fantastic method gives more than 2 kg (4 pounds) of excellent biscotti, to share with family and friends. Or to savor alone, a few at a time, for several weeks.
You need: 1 kl (2 lb) all-purpose flour [I used organic], 700 g (3 cups) caster sugar [I used unrefined organic], 1/2 kl (1 lb) unpeeled almonds, 1 lemon, 16 g (3 tea-spoon) baking powder, 8 eggs + 1 for brushing, 60 g (1/4 cup) milk. Caster sugar for coating [I skipped this].
How to: Step 1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (Celsius, 356 Fahrenheit). Meanwhile combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, including the grated peel of the lemon. Step 2. Add the eggs, the almonds and the milk and mix until all ingredients are well combined. Step 3. Form 5 roughly shaped long rectangles over 2 oven trays covered with baking paper (the tray with three rectangles will be a little crowded but that is ok); brush the rectangles with the egg beaten with a little water. Step 4. After baking for 15-20 minute, take the trays out, move the biscotti dough with all the baking paper on a cutting board and cut the rectangles horizontally, forming several small stripes. Step 5. Put back in the oven and bake for further 20 minutes, lowering the oven temperature to 140 degrees (Celsius, 284 Fahrenheit).
CONSIDERATIONS: These almond biscotti that originally come from the town of Prato, Tuscany, were designed to last for weeks, and can actually keep fresh (without any freezing!) for a couple of months. In the past, people needed food like this, which could be packed for journeys that were usually long, when trains, airplanes, and cars did not exist. The durability (and crunchiness) of traditional biscotti is given by being baked twice. This is also the meaning of their name. I am aware that is generally considered low-class to dip cookies in beverages but… you cannot really say you have savored Cantucci unless you dip them. Preferably in sweet wine (ideally the Tuscan Vin Santo) but also in milk. Or hot chocolate. Mmmmm… ready for one more biscotto.