Food & Drink Magazine

15th Century Hottie ~ Biscotti with Almonds & Orange

By Weavethousandflavors

Biscotti with Almonds & Orange-01
Biscotti a term referring to all biscuits in Italy has become synonymous with these - the twice baked variety.

Isn't it fascinating that even today we love foods that hail from as far away as the 15th century?

Because it's here that the origins of this beloved biscuit lie in a small town outside Tuscany called Prato which is at the center of the slow food movement. The first biscotti to come out of this little town was made only with almonds.

The twice baking process is that the dough is baked once, then cut into biscuits, turned face up and baked again. What this does is it gets rid of moisture in the biscuit and therefore allows these lovelies to be stored for long periods of time without the risk of mold.

Consequently these became quite popular with sailors off on long voyages to sea. So much so that it is documented that these crunchy munchies were quite the favorite of Christoper Columbus.

Think on that the next time you dunk a biscotti in your favorite cuppa!

Speaking of double baking and getting rid of moisture and what-not, I don't know about you but the off chance I do purchase some commercially prepared biscotti, I am almost always put off by how hard and dry they are & it makes me wonder if I should be making an appt with my dentist before I bite into the biscuit!

So lets be clear, if you like your biscotti hard and dry, then this will certainly not be your cup of tea (or biscuit) but if you like your crunchy, crusty & crumby (the 3 c's indeed) then you will love these!

So much so, that I am taking this recipe that has been perfected after pouring over countless recipes & mediocre runs over the years and teaching it at my 'A summer Italian Luncheon' Culinary class this week end.

The great news is that though biscotti hails from 500 years ago, anyone who can shape a meat loaf, has played with clay & can slice bread can make these. And this is good to know because once you've eaten these home baked lovelies, your neighbourhood barista is sure to lose a valued customer.

I have added orange zest to these because I absolutely adore the scent of oranges in biscotti but this recipe can be tweaked to your liking: substituting lemon zest or pistachios instead of almonds, dried cranberries and so on and so forth.

In fact, I won't be surprised if you'll be getting requests for these from every corner. Come to think of it, Mr. Hubby has already put in a request for a large batch for his office mates!

Gather the ingredients: For 24 qty (1/2-inch thick) slices

4 cups all-purpose flour,  3 tsp baking powder,  Zest of 2 oranges,  1-1/2 stick (12 tbs) unsalted butter,  4 eggs,  1 cup + 2 tbs sugar, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract & 1 to 1-1/4 cup sliced almonds

Know-how: Whole almonds are delicious in this but makes slicing the dough a little bit trickier with the crust crumbling around it so you a gentle hand while slicing.

 Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line  2 qty 11’ x 17’ baking sheets/pans with parchment paper.

You can use an electric stand mixer or knead this dough by hand. It is a soft dough and it not difficult to do.

Biscotti with Almonds & Orange-collage

  • Combine flour & baking powder in a bowl. Using a zester, add the orange zest. Stir to combine and set aside till needed.
  • In the bowl of the electric mixer, combine the melted butter, sugar, vanilla extract and beat till pale. Add eggs and continue to beat well.
  • Add the flour in 2 batches. Add the almonds. Combine to a soft dough.
  • Rub some oil on your hands to keep the dough from sticking. Halve the dough.
  • Form the dough into about 2 equal logs. Place the logs on the baking pans/sheets.
  • Flatten them a little but still mound at the center.
  • Bake for 20 mins until the dough has puffed up and the bottom is slightly golden brown. Allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  • Know-how: If you do not cool the dough before cutting into slices, it will crumble so do not forgo the cooling.
  • Reduce oven temp to 325 deg F
  • Use a sharp serrated bread knife and cut into ½” thick diagonal slices slowly to prevent breaking.
  • Put the slices face up on the baking pans and bake in the oven for another 20-25 mins or until a light golden brown.
  • Remove form the oven and cool on baking racks before serving.

To store:  Cool completely (for several hours) storing in air tight containers. 

 

Recipe for 

Biscotti with Almonds & Orange

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooling time: 30 minutes

Total Baking time: 40-50 minutes

Makes 24 qty, 1/2-inch thick slices

Shopping list 

4 cups all-purpose flour

3 tsp baking powder

Zest of 2 oranges

1-1/2 stick (12 tbs) unsalted butter

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup + 2 tbs sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 to 1-1/4 cup sliced or whole almonds

Know-how: Whole almonds are delicious in this but makes slicing the dough a little bit trickier with the crust crumbling around it so you a gentle hand while slicing.

 Preheat oven to 350 deg F.

 Line  2 qty 11’ x 17’ baking sheets/pans with parchment paper.

You can use an electric stand mixer or knead this dough by hand. It is a soft dough and it not difficult to do.

Method:

  1. Combine flour & baking powder in a bowl. Using a zester, add the orange zest. Stir to combine and set aside till needed.
  2. In the bowl of the electric mixer, combine the melted butter, sugar, vanilla extract and beat till pale. Add eggs and continue to beat well.
  3. Add the flour in 2 batches. Add the almonds. Combine to a soft dough.
  4. Rub some oil on your hands to keep the dough from sticking. Halve the dough.
  5. Form the dough into about 2 equal logs. Place the logs on the baking pans/sheets.
  6. Flatten them a little but still mound at the center.
  7. Bake for 20 mins until the dough has puffed up and the bottom is slightly golden brown. Allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  8. Know-how: If you do not cool the dough before cutting into slices, it will crumble so do not forgo the cooling.
  9. Reduce oven temp to 325 deg F
  10. Use a sharp serrated bread knife and cut into ½” thick diagonal slices slowly to prevent breaking.
  11. Put the slices face up on the baking pans and bake in the oven for another 20-25 mins or until a light golden brown.
  12. Remove form the oven and cool on baking racks before serving.

Enjoy!

To store:  Cool completely (for several hours) storing in air tight containers.


 


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