There’s this little Italian coffee shop in my hometown. The coffee is superb. The food perhaps even better. But look more closely and you find a jar labelled ‘biscotti – 12p’. They’re only small. You might even want to order 4 or 5. But in biscotti lies the ability to bring forth the best from a strong black coffee. Orange and Rosemary Biscotti? Perhaps even more so.
Classic biscotti, imbued with almond; they are one of my favourite “biscuits”. Twice baked for crunch and best soaked in a dark roast americano. Beautiful. But open up the possibility of changing the flavour of biscotti around and what you’re left with is a blank canvas with which to play.
Essentially flour, sugar and egg, biscotti doesn’t possess an element destructive to an flavour combination. There’s so much you can do. Be inventive. The Italian pantry is your oyster. Orange and rosemary is something of a classic combination; fragrance and citrus.
As you bite into your freshly made, particularly crisp biscotti the first flavour that reaches you is a subtle citrus orange taste. Nothing overwhelming, but just right. And as consistently as the orange fades, so comes through the fragrant rosemary, leaving its scent in your nostrils until washed away unceremoniously by a cup of filthy java. Bliss.
Making biscotti isn’t a difficult process. But it’s important not to over-bake the dough at the first stage. It wants to colour slightly and form a shell, but it needs to be soft enough to slice through without crumbling.
The second tricky part is knowing when your biscotti is done. Your little twice baked Italian biscuits needn’t be hard when they come out of the oven. But they jolly well should go hard – and hard throughout – once cool. We don’t want to break any dentures.
Orange and Rosemary Biscotti
- 100g plain flour
- 60g golden caster sugar
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- a sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
- the zest of 1 orange
- 1 medium egg
- 1 tbsp milk
- Grease and line a baking tray. Preheat your oven to 180C/160C(fan).
- Sieve the plain flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, baking powder, salt, rosemary and orange zest – mix thoroughly. Form a well in the middle.
- Whisk together the milk and egg and pour into the well. Using a fork, work the mixture into a soft dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, it should be very sticky. Knead it a little and form into a ball.
- Place your dough onto the prepared tray and form into a log roughly 9 inches in length – pat down slightly. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until hard and golden brown.
- Set the log aside to cool for a few minutes, before slicing diagonally into 1cm sections with a bread knife.
- Place the biscotti back on the tray and bake at 150C until hard and brown, remembering to turn them halfway through. This should take 15 minutes.
- Set aside to cool fully before eating. Best served with a strong, black coffee.
Cost: Perhaps the simplest of Italian desserts – If you can call biscotti a dessert – these little bites of heaven shouldn’t set you back much more than 80p.