Caraway and Lemon Biscotti

Grind the caraway seeds in a pestle and mortar.

These are among my personal favourite biscotti. (If you would like a primer on biscotti, then please click here: Biscotti 101)

I created these by adapting a recipe I found in a book compellingly entitled Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favourites, which I believe I bought in a Barnes and Noble store in Baltimore, Maryland, sometime in 2006.

It was originally a recipe for Anise and Lemon Biscotti, but I didn’t have any Aniseeds, and didn’t want to go buy some, so I substituted caraway seeds instead.

I also found the dough was too dry at the end of mixing it. However I’d had to zest a lemon for the recipe, so I juiced that and mixed the juice into the dough.

It was a triumph. A little piece of citrusy heaven. Trust me. If you like lemon-flavoured anything, then you’ll love these.

They are among the most requested in my Christmas Collection and now I share them with you.

They are the perfect thing to enjoy a quiet moment with a cuppa before going back to being an adult.

Start by sifting the plain flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together into a bowl.

Sift the dry ingredients together.

Sift the dry ingredients together.

Then add the zest of a lemon or two. You’ll need around 2 tablespoonfuls.

Now you’ll need to grind your caraway seeds the best that you can. Use either a pestle and mortar or a small electric coffee grinder you use solely for this purpose.

Grind the caraway seeds in a pestle and mortar.

Grind the caraway seeds in a pestle and mortar.

Add them to your flour mix, stir through and set aside.

Add your zest and seeds and stir together.

Add your zest and seeds and stir together.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat together 2 whole eggs and 1 egg white.

eggs!

Eggs!

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir to achieve a smooth dough.

If you manage to do that with just the eggs, then you have my congratulations.

If not, then juice the lemons that you have zested and add the strained juice to your dough – little by little – until it all comes together.

Be careful not to make it too wet...

Be careful not to make it too wet…

Line an oven tray with baking paper. Using a spatula and floured hands, scoop half the dough out of the bowl and onto one side of the baking sheet. Repeat on the other side.

Shape as best you can into logs. Remember that they will spread as they bake, so try to keep the inner edges at least 6 inches apart.

It's a messy job, but someone has to do it.

It’s a messy job, but someone has to do it.

Bake at 180°C/350°F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top of each log is firm.

(This is the perfect time to wash your mixing bowl and other utensils.)

Remove to a wire rack until cool enough to handle – around 15 mins. Reduce your oven to 150°C/325°F.

The lovely lemon tinge from the juice sets these biscotti apart.

The lovely lemon tinge from the juice sets these biscotti apart.

Now is the time to cut them into 1.5 cm/½ inch thick slices with a serrated knife.

Then, place them back onto the baking sheet, cut side down.

Traditionally biscotti are cut on the diagonal.

Traditionally biscotti are cut on the diagonal.

Bake for a further 15 minutes. Remove to cool on racks.

They will firm up on standing, so don’t be concerned if they still seem soft in the middle.

Ah. Bliss.

Caraway and Lemon Biscotti

  • Servings: approx 36 biscotti
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

2 cups plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 cup sugar

2 whole eggs

1 egg white

1 tbsp caraway seeds, ground

1 tbsp freshly grated lemon peel (zest)

Strained juice of lemon (reserved)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F. Line a baking sheet with paper and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

Add the lemon zest and ground caraway seeds.

In a small bowl, lightly beat together the whole eggs and egg white.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir to form a smooth dough. Add lemon juice as required to achieve the correct consistency.

Using floured hands and a spatula, scoop half the dough into a log shape on one side of the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough on the other side – spacing the logs at least 6 inches apart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top of each log is firm.

Remove with a long spatula to a wire rack and cool for 10 to 15 mins.

Reduce the heat of the oven to 150°C/325°F.

Using a serrated knife, cut each log on the diagonal into ½ inch slices.

Place slices back onto the lined baking trays, cut side down and bake for a further 15 minutes.

Remove and cool on racks.

These biscotti will continue to harden as they cool.

Will keep for several weeks, stored in an airtight container.

Coconut Almond Biscotti

Coconut Almond biscotti

It has been  pointed out to me ever so gently, that I haven’t yet finished my series on biscotti (I got sick and then preserving took precedence…) so here we go.

This is a very simple recipe that packs a big punch in both visual impact and taste terms. The only downside to it is that it can be quite pricey due to its use of whole, blanched almonds.

So, feel free to use slivered or flaked almonds if they are more within your price range. The flavour will be the same, it just will look a little different and have a slightly less “robust” texture.

Coconut Almond biscotti

Coconut Almond biscotti

This is an extremely unfussy recipe. It’s so easy that, if you blink, you’ll miss it. So pay attention.

Turn your oven on to preheat to 180°C/ 350°F.

In a medium-sized bowl mix together your caster sugar, eggs  and some finely grated orange rind (zest).

Start your biscotti with this

Start your biscotti with this

You can do this by hand with a wire balloon whisk or use an electric mixer if you have one.

It will look like this after mixing.

It will look like this after mixing.

However, the dough is about to get heavy. So, using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix in your flours, desiccated (shredded) coconut and almonds.

Add your dry ingredients all at once.

Add your dry ingredients all at once.

Stir well.

And you're done.

And you’re done.

That’s it. Hard, wasn’t it?

Line a baking tray with paper and divide your dough into two portions. With floured hands, roll each portion into a 20cm log and place on the tray.

Be aware that they will spread a little, so don’t place them smack bang next to each other! Also, don’t stress over the shape, just do the best you can.

The dough is not soft and quite easy to handle.

The dough is not soft and quite easy to handle.

Now pop them in the oven for 35 minutes, or until slightly browned. Wash up your measuring and mixing things while this is going on and then hunt out: a trivet, another baking tray, a cutting board and serrated knife – make sure it’s a serrated knife, or it will all end in tears – and a cooling rack.

First baking done.

First baking done.

When it looks like this, take it out of the oven and set aside for 15 minutes or so to cool a little. You won’t want to cut them fresh from the oven or they will crumble under your knife (see above warning about tears).

Turn your oven down to 160°C/325°F.  Most of the cooking is done, from now on you’ll just be trying to dry them out.

When the logs are cool to the touch, using the aforementioned serrated knife, cut them into 1cm  or ¼ inch thick slices. Traditionally this is done slightly on the diagonal, but you don’t have to do it this way.

Cut your logs into slices

Cut your logs into slices.

Place the slices flat onto a lined baking tray and pop them back into the oven for 10 mins, then take them out, turn them over and put them back in for another 10 mins.

Bake for a second time.

Bake for a second time.

If you would like them slightly darker, then bake them longer. Be prepared for your kitchen to smell like paradise.

Allow them to cool on the trays. Basically by the time the second batch is at the halfway point, the biscotti on the first tray should be cool enough to move to a rack. This will free up your tray for any left over slices.

Serve dunked into something hot: coffee, tea, hot chocolate.

Try not to eat them all at once.

Coconut Almond Biscotti

  • Servings: makes 30
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 cup (220g) caster sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp finely grated orange rind or zest

1 1/3 cups (200g) plain flour

½ cup (50g) SR flour

2/3 cups (50g) desiccated (shredded) coconut

1 cup (160g) blanched almonds

Method

Preheat oven to moderate. 180°C/ 350°F.

In a medium bowl, beat together sifted caster sugar, orange rind and eggs.

Add sifted flours, coconut and nuts and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon to form a sticky dough.

Divide dough into two portions.

Using floured hands, roll/shape each portion into a 20cm/ 10 inch log and place on a lined oven tray.

Bake for around 35 minutes or until slightly browned; cool on the tray for 15 minutes.

Reduce the oven heat to moderately slow, 160°C/325°F.

Using a serrated (bread)knife, cut the logs into diagonal slices 1 cm/¼ inch thick.

Place the slices flat onto lined baking trays and return to the oven for around 25 minutes, or until dry and crisp.

Turn halfway through baking.

Cool on tray.

Orange-Ginger Biscotti

Orange Ginger Biscotti

This is the biscotti that I love the most and I post it here especially for my friends, Angelina and Carolyn.

I think they love it almost as much as I do.

Orange Ginger Biscotti

Orange Ginger Biscotti

I’ve mentioned before that I am a ginger fiend and this contains tiny little specks of absolute deliciousness in the form of some of Buderim’s best.

But more on that later.

I discovered this recipe on www.foodfit.com, according to the printout I have in my Biscotti file.

My Biscotti file- interesting looking, it is not.

My Biscotti file.

The thing is though…it doesn’t seem to be there any more. It’s disappeared sometime in the last 8 years or so.

Too spooky for me, as The Boy would say.

Never mind, I’m about to pop it up here for all of you wonderful people to enjoy and especially for Angelina and Carolyn. 🙂

This biscotti recipe uses crystallised ginger cut into tiny little pieces. I prefer to use Buderim’s Naked Ginger, which is the same sort of thing but without the traditional coating of sugar.

Buderim Crystallised ginger

Buderim Crystallised ginger

I find it not only reduces the sweetness a little (of course) but also makes it much easier to cut up! I don’t end up with sugar clinging to my fingers and my knife/scissor blade and sticking to everything…

Sugar, sugar everywhere...

Sugar, sugar everywhere…

It’s just nicer. I also like to use a few pieces of this particular product snipped up (using kitchen shears) into my breakfast yoghurt or porridge. However, for this post, I used the regular stuff for those of you who don’t have access to Buderim’s products. (I’m so sorry for you all!)

But back to the biscotti.

It’s relatively easy to make. The flour, sugar, ginger and white pepper are all sifted together.

The original recipe called for black pepper, but I think white pepper is better, aesthetically-speaking.

The biscotti nibbler isn’t distracted from the jewel-like flecks of ginger in their biscuit by little black specks…

Hmmm, is it just me?

Sift together your flour and spices.

Sift together your flour and spices.

Stir them up a bit. Then add the orange zest and finely chopped ginger.

Add the zest and the finely chopped ginger.

Add the zest and the finely chopped ginger.

Stir it up a bit more. Then, in a small bowl, whisk together 3 large eggs and 4 tablespoons of the oranges’ juice.

Make a well in your flour and add the liquid to the dry.

Add your egg mix to your flour mix...

Add your egg mix to your flour mix…

Mix well, until it forms a stiff dough.

I have to admit that I have NEVER made a stiff dough with this recipe. Ever.

It usually looks like this:

This is a dough that is somewhat less than stiff...

This is a dough that is somewhat less than stiff…

According to the recipe, I should then put the batter on a lightly sugared surface and divide and roll it into 4 pieces.

Nothing is ever not going to happen like that isn’t. It doesn’t need the extra sugar, for a start.

I simply line a baking tray with silicon paper and then scoop the batter out onto it in two roughly straight bits. Like this:

Let's just say we rolled them in sugar and stuff, okay?

Let’s just say we rolled them in sugar and stuff, okay?

No-one has ever complained that my biscotti are not geometrically perfect. They know better than to speak with their mouths full.

It is then baked in a moderately hot oven for 15 mins, during which the ‘logs’ double in width (and the scraggy edges kind of smooth out). When they are firm to the touch, they get taken out and cooled on racks for about 15 mins.

See? They look okay, don't they?

See? They look okay, don’t they?

During the cooling period the oven is also turned down a tad.

When your logs are cool to the touch, that is the time to wield your serrated knife. With gusto.

The importance of the serrated knife is explained here.

Slice (saw) your biscotti into slices about 1 cm or ½ an inch thick. Traditionally this is done on a slant, you don’t have to follow tradition. If you’d prefer straight and not diagonal slices, then go for it.

Slice your biscotti.

Slice your biscotti.

Your biscotti will seem somewhat cake-like, be gentle with them.

They are now placed back onto the baking trays and popped back into the oven for another 10 mins, until golden brown. If they aren’t getting to be crisp, then turn them over and pop them back in for another 5-10 mins.

Ready for the second baking.

Ready for the second baking.

When they are getting to golden, take them out. Remember they will continue to harden after they are taken out of the oven.

Place back on the cake racks and cool completely. Then dunk them in something worthy of them.

Prepare to munch.

Prepare to munch.

I’m going to reproduce the recipe as it is in my biscotti file, but if you don’t have a firm dough and don’t want to make play-do type sugar-coated sausages with it, then see above.

Orange-Ginger Biscotti

  • Servings: 40
  • Difficulty: medium
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Orange-Ginger Biscotti

2½ cups plain flour

1 cup sugar

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda (bi carb)

1 tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp freshly ground pepper (black or white, your choice)

pinch salt

3 fresh oranges (zest and juice)

3 large eggs

¾ cup finely chopped candied ginger

Method

Heat the oven to 180°C/350ºF.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment or baking paper. (Don’t skip this, it will get messy.)

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, salt, soda, ground ginger and pepper.

Add 1 tablespoon of orange zest to the bowl along with the finely chopped candied ginger. Mix.

Squeeze your oranges and strain and reserve 4 tablespoons of the juice.

In a smaller bowl, whisk the juice and eggs together.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until a stiff dough forms.

Scrape dough onto a lightly sugared work surface and divide it into 4 pieces. Roll each piece with the palm of your hands into a log slightly shorter than your baking sheet.

Place two logs on each baking sheet, several inches apart. The logs will double in width during baking.

Bake for 15 mins, or until the logs feel set or firm to the touch.

Place the baking sheet on a cake rack and allow to cool.

Reset your oven to 150ºC/300ºF.

When your logs are cool to the touch, place them on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, slice them into 1cm/½ inch wide diagonal slices.

Lay the biscotti out onto papered baking trays in a single layer and bake for a further 10-15 mins, until they are dry and lightly toasted.

Place on racks to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Will keep at least 2 weeks.

 

Christmas biscotti platter

Christmas is the time of year I start baking hard, thick, crunchy, chunky, seemingly inedible biscuits and giving large amounts of them to my friends.

No. I’m not mad.

Christmas biscotti platter

Christmas biscotti platter

Biscotti is an Italian word that shows the origin of the English word ‘biscuit.’ Basically it means cooked twice, like rusks or zwieback (also meaning cooked twice), which is why the American use of the word continues to confuse me…

Moving on from etymology, these things are wonderful. Really truly.

They started out in the dim, dark pages of history as a way of making food travel-proof. Dry out your bread and it won’t go mouldy. Simple. Think, ships’ biscuits and Horatio Hornblower. Which means you can make them now and happily eat them in a month’s time.

Biscotti came into my life about 8 years ago and, from then on, I just wanted to share the joy.

A thick, sticky dough is mixed, shaped into logs, baked in a moderately hot oven for a bit, allowed to cool, cut into thick slices (about ½ an inch thick), baked in a slightly cooler oven for a second time until thoroughly dried out and then kept in an air-tight container until dunked into a warm beverage – usually coffee, but tea and hot chocolate rock too – and then delighted in tremendously.

first baking...

first baking…

Italian friends tell me that they also work well dipped in a glass of vin santo …

They usually contain nuts, like whole blanched almonds, hazelnuts or pistachios, dried fruit, like cranberries and, sometimes, coconut. They are also quite low in fat as most recipes contain neither butter nor oil. They do contain lots of flour and quite a bit of sugar though, so don’t go thinking of them as anything resembling a health food.

That said, a biscotto is not something you would inhale in the way you might a sweet biscuit or cookie, so you are less likely to start scoffing them down in large quantities. One will usually be sufficient.

There are endless variations. It all depends on your imagination and your knife.

To make biscotti you need a good, serrated knife.

Now, that's a knife...

Now, that’s a knife…

If you don’t have one, then tears will be the inevitable outcome. I speak from experience.

You are baking something so that it will be crunchy; if you then try slicing that it will simply disintegrate into (delicious) crumbs under your blade. That is bad.

A serrated knife is the only thing that will save your biscuits and your sanity.

Slicing biscotti

Slicing biscotti

Get one. That is all.

Once your biscotti are thoroughly baked and cooled, they will keep for Aeons in an airtight container.

Really!

Well, quite a number of weeks anyway.

Which is why they make such great Christmas gifts.

I figure that most of the people I know already have all the ‘stuff’ they could possibly need and don’t really need to find the space for yet another knick knack they don’t really like. Probably they will be overloaded with sweet biscuits/cookies, cakes and chocolates as well.

Managing mass biscotti baking like this on a budget can be quite doable. The flour and sugar is something that I already have in store, but I buy a bit extra. Then, in the months leading up to baking, I add one packet of special ingredients to my shopping each fortnight. A packet of blanched almonds one week, a packet of crystallised ginger the next shopping week and so forth. Then, in the week before I start to bake, I buy 2 dozen eggs and I’m set to go.

Second baking

Second baking

I make a different batch (recipe) of biscotti for each person on my Christmas run. So, if I’m wanting to give them to 5 different people, I make 5 different types of biscotti. Then I divvy them up, wrap in cellophane and deliver on Christmas Eve or roundabouts.

Because they store so well, I can easily make a different batch each day for a week instead of having one huge baking day. They all go into a large Tupperware Cake Taker until it’s time for them to leave the premises.

Big box of bikkies

Big box of bikkies

They are easy to mix and shape, but take a lot of time to bake. If you are suffering through one of the sweltering hot versions of the Australian Christmas Season, then do this late at night with all the doors and windows open.

I’ve recently moved away from my friends and can’t give them biscotti this year, so I shall share some of the recipes with them on here instead. 😥

There will be quite a few biscotti posts to come….

Biscotti recipes on Budget Bounty:
Caraway and Lemon Biscotti
Coconut Almond Biscotti
Orange Ginger Biscotti