I am now far away from my Italian paradise but I still think back to those marvellous days by the sea in the middle of winter, staying with lovely friends in the most beautiful house eating delicious food prepared lovingly by Bea, their charming cook who this time showed me how to make pasta and biscotti. Her first batch of biscotti in the picture above was the classic version with almonds but when she was preparing the second batch, I asked if she could use pine nuts. Not what she would have used normally but they are my favourite nut and Bea didn’t mind changing her recipe slightly.
Like pasta, biscotti are very simple to make and within the hour, you can produce the most delectable biscuits to serve with vin santo (another favourite) or of course with tea or coffee; and you will know what has gone into making them!
The first step is the only arduous part of the process because you have to whisk the eggs and sugar together for quite a while. Bea does this with a fork but it is easier done with a whisk or better still a kitchen aid.
Then, you gradually add the flour to have a very soft sticky dough to which you add the nuts and that is about it. There is no kneading involved and minimum shaping.
Once the nuts are well blended, you wet your hands with a little water (to stop the dough from sticking) and shape the dough into long sausages. Bea explained that I didn’t have to worry about how straight the sausages were when laid on the baking sheet because they are eventually going to be cut and the kinks will disappear. I guess I will be a little more careful but only because I am fastidious. You need to make sure to shape the sausages quite thinly though and not make them too fat because they will expand quite a bit during baking which is done twice to get them to harden completely.
And this is it: delicious biscotti con pinoli (shaped diferently in the picture below) with a glass of vin santo to celebrate the new year which is not so new any longer!
Biscotti di Bea
3 organic eggs, plus 3 egg yolks
250 g golden caster sugar
1 package instant yeast (I think this yeast is baking powder; it is definitely not easy bake yeast)
pinch sea salt
400 g flour tipo 00
150 g almonds (or pine nuts)
Preheat the oven to 200º C. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper or use a non-stick sheet.
Put 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk in a mixing bowl and whisk well with the sugar until completely blended and fluffy — in Italian, Bea says montare bene.
Mix the yeast and salt with the flour and gradually add to the eggs and sugar mixture until you have a sticky dough. Add the nuts and mix well.
Moisten your hands with a little water. Pinch a handful of dough. Quickly shape into a long thin sausage and place on your baking sheet. Make the other sausages making sure you leave enough space between them on the baking sheet as they will expand. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Beat the other 2 egg yolks. Then when ready, take the biscotti out of the oven and brush with the egg yolks. Cut each stick on the slant into 2 1/2 cm/1 inch wide pieces and bake again for 10 minutes. You can also shape individual round biscotti like the ones in the picture above with the glass of vin santo. Both are delicious and the texture does not change with the different shape. Grazie Bea!