Food Stories | Biscuits

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Cantuccini

 

Artisan biscuit making has been making a comeback with the emergence of cottage bakeries and patissiers.

It is a skill easily achieved with practice, and the results can be mouth watering.

Getting the balance between dry and wet ingredients is the key, and that depends on the quality of the flours, whether chestnut, rye or wheat.

These Tuscan biscuits are so good you’ll want to visit to see if your version is as good as those produced by the region’s biscotti di Prato experts.

 

225 g flour
125 g sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 orange, zest
2 eggs
75 g chocolate pieces

 

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Mix eggs with sugar, add orange zest, baking powder, flour and pistachios or chocolate. Knead for five minutes.

Roll into a large evenly shaped sausage, the length of the baking tray, roughly 6cm wide.

Place on greaseproof paper on a baking tray, flatten a little, bake for 25 minutes (35 minutes for chocolate), until pale golden.

Cool for 15 minutes or longer if necessary.

Reduce temperature to 140°C.

Cut into 2cm slices, place back on paper in tray.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the colour has turned to a golden brown.

 

Biscotti di Castagne – 1

 

250 g chestnut flour
200 ml milk
75 g hazelnuts, chopped small
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp star anise, ground
Salt, pinch
Flour, for rolling

 

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Mix the chestnut flour, salt, soda and star anise with milk to form a compact dough.

Add nuts, roll dough 1 cm thick. Cut into circles.

Bake for five minutes.

 

Biscotti di Castagne – 2

 

200 g chestnut flour
200 g butter
125 g 70% chocolate, broken into pieces
100 g pastry flour
100 g sugar
1 egg
15 g bicarbonate of soda
Salt, pinch
Flour, for dusting

 

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Sieve flours into a large bowl, add butter, rub into flours.

Add egg, sugar, salt and chocolate, combine.

Wrap dough in cling film, leave in fridge for an hour.

Dust a clean surface, roll the dough 1cm thick, cut into circles.

Place biscuits on a greaseproof paper in a baking tray.

Bake for 15 minutes.

 

Pepparkakor – 1

 

Crispy pepparkakor are known throughout Europe as gingersnaps despite being more like ginger breads than ginger biscuits.

Another product of the monastic life, they got their name because ground ginger was believed to be a member of the pepper family. They made a good travelling food eventually making their way into Sweden in the 13th century. Adopted as a traditional treat, they became associated with Lucia during the end of year festivities.

Originally made with flour, honey and ginger, they evolved to include cinnamon and cloves, raising agents and softeners like butter and cream.

The round shape gave way to numerous shapes, from christmas trees to hearts and stars, while the old rounds and squares were made thicker to be used as building blocks for the construction of gingerbread houses.

These days the gingersnap is more like a gingerbread, and is flavoured with all kinds of spice, fruit essence and coated with icing. They are crushed in cheesecakes and trifles, served with cream cheese and smoked salmon and stacked with cream fillings.

The original ginger snaps were aptly named. These are rock hard and require soaking before eating.

 

500 g rye flour
450 g honey, melted
50 g ginger, ground

 

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Stir ginger into honey.

Sieve flour, add ginger honey, make into a ball, knead for a few minutes, then roll out onto a floured surface as thin as possible.

Cut into rounds or squares, about 80 pieces.

Arrange on greaseproof paper on baking trays.

Bake each tray for 12 minutes.

Cool pieces on a wire rack.

 

Pepparkakor – 2

 

Gradually the recipe evolved, molasses or treacle, brown sugar, butter and egg replaced the honey, and other spices were added.

 

500 g pastry flour
175 g molasses
125 g butter, cubed
100 g brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
30 g ginger, ground
15 g cinnamon, ground
10 g cloves, ground

 

Melt molasses and sugar over a low heat for ten minutes, add spices, bring to the boil, then allow to cool.

Pour into a large bowl, whisk in the egg.

Sieve the flour into the bowl, work into a dough. Cut into six pieces.

Roll first piece on a floured surface as thin as possible.

Cut into rounds or squares, about 80 pieces.

Arrange on greaseproof paper on baking trays.

Repeat until dough is used up.

Bake each tray for 12 minutes.

Cool pieces on a wire rack.

 

Pepparkakor – 3

 

Cream started to replace butter, ginger came back into its own, soda was used to give the biscuits a lift and the dough was rested before rolling.

 

500 g pastry flour
150 g brown sugar
150 ml cream, whipped
150 g molasses
35 g ginger, ground
10 g baking soda

 

In a large bowl add the sugar to the cream, fold in the molasses, then the ginger and soda.

Sieve flour into the mixture, leave to rest for three hours.

Cut dough into six pieces.

Roll first piece on a floured surface as thin as possible.

Cut into rounds or squares, about 80 pieces.

Arrange on greaseproof paper on baking trays.

Repeat until dough is used up.

Bake each tray for 12 minutes.

Cool pieces on a wire rack.

 

Pepparkakor – 4

 

Throughout the 19th century it was difficult to distinguish the gingersnap from the gingerbread as the tradition of constructing houses from the shapes became popular across Scandinavia and northern Europe – a tradition that continues today.

 

500 g pastry flour
150 ml cream
150 g syrup
150 g sugar
100 g butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1 tsp ginger, ground
1 tsp pepper, ground

 

Bring the syrup, sugar and cream to the boil, then add the butter.

Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool. Add the flour, soda and spices, knead lightly into a dough, leave overnight.

Preheat oven to 175°C.

Roll the dough thin, cut out desired shapes, arrange on greaseproof paper on baking trays.

Bake for five minutes.

 

Pepparkakor med Blåbär Grädde

 

250 g blueberries, mashed
250 g cream
16 gingersnaps
16 blueberries, whole
30 g icing sugar
15 g vanilla sugar

 

Whip sugars into the cream. Gently fold blueberry mash into the cream.

Arrange gingersnaps on a large plate. Pipe blueberry cream onto gingersnaps, top with blueberries.

 

Pepparkakor med Färskost och Rökt Lax

 

125 g cream cheese
16 gingersnaps
16 smoked salmon slices
Dill, pinch
Black Pepper, freshly ground

 

Arrange gingersnaps on a large plate. Top each one with a salmon slice, a dollop of cream cheese, garnish with dill and pepper.

 

Prianiki

 

350g flour
150g honey
1 egg
30g butter
15g ginger powder
15g cinnamon, ground
1 tsp cloves, ground
Baking soda, large pinch
Cardamon, large pinch
Nutmeg, large pinch

 

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Sieve flour and soda into a large bowl, add honey followed by the butter, eggs and spices, mix with a wooden spoon into a soft dough.

Spoon pieces of dough onto greaseproof paper on a baking tray.

Bake for 15 minutes, remove to cool for the 15 minutes, then bake for a further 15 minutes at 140°C.


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