Friday, June 13, 2008


What is a Biscotti?
The word "biscotti" in Italian is the plural form of biscotto, which applies to any type of biscuit, and originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning "twice-baked": it is defined as biscuits baked twice in the oven, so they could be stored for long periods of time, which was particularly useful during journeys and wars. Through Middle French, the word was imported into the English language as "biscuit". (Source: Wikepedia)

Hope that answers your question, my dear son. He asked that question quite innocently when I first mentioned "biscotti". He has eaten these before, those from Olio Dome are his (and his sister's) favourite. I practised with two recipes so that I can present the best version to a dear friend of mine, W, who is entering her third trimester. Her little bundle of joy will arrive some time in September. Since she had requested me to bake biscotti, I think I should try.

These are not difficult to make, honestly. However, that does not mean they are easy as well. One needs a little patience. The almond biscotti looks paler as it contains egg whites and no butter (nor any other form of fat). I took the "non-stick" pan for granted and did not line it. Well, I wasted that favourite square pan of mine! I should have poured the batter out, washed the pan and lined it. Urgh...

I first came across the recipe at Aunty Yochana's blog. I skipped the step of letting the cake cool for a few hours in the frige. Once the cake has cooled enough (so that hands don't hurt when holding it), I started to slice it. I returned the slices to bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until they looked dry and hard. These tasted quite good and the children did not complain about the tiny pieces of almond slivers. It was very hard, just like how biscotti should be.

I subsequently came across another biscotti recipe at Amanda's blog. This one looked interesting as it has cornmeal and butter. As expected, the dough gave off a very fragrant aroma (butter mixed with 1.5 tsp of Madagascar vanilla extract) when it was baking. I added another half a cup of flour (making it to 225 g) as the eggs I used were fairly large (about 65g each). Still, I got a rather wet dough and it spread a fair bit in the oven.

As a result of the wet dough, the first piece was underbaked. I suspected as much when I removed it from the oven. As I cut, the "cake" got softer and wetter. So I baked the second piece for 20 mins, and it browned nicely and was easier to slice. I read that Amanda would slice it thicker on her subsequent attempt, so I sliced it thick. It was easier to slice it thicker anyway as I had used whole almonds. My kids said this version is very cookie like and hubs said that this biscotti is a little soft. I guess I didn't dare bake these longer as they were darker (due to butter?) than the egg white version.

The cranberry almond biscotti is definitely more tasty than the (egg white only) almond biscotti. However, I am positive that I had underbaked them as they are quite soft after a day or two. I'm sure giving them a slight toast would restore the crispiness. I shall explore another recipe before presenting you a version that I am satisfied with. Thanks for your patience.


Happy Homebaker said...

I bought one whole tub of biscottis from the states. I am saving it as a treat! So far I have not been successful in making biscottis that are as good as these I bought.

Yuri said...

Hi HHB, thanks for dropping by! Yes, biscotti is not easy to make...