Friday, 14 August 2015

Home-made biscuits

Here are some biscuit recipes I posted on my previous blog from January 2010 till February 2015.

Cantuccini or tozzetti (Italian biscuits with nuts)

I have practiced baking a lot recently, making and adapting good recipes for different types of biscuits. Several people, including my family, tasted  them and found them delicious. So I decided to share the treasure trove and I am going to post seventeen recipes of biscuits from now till Christmas: I hope you’ll enjoy them all and they will help you prepare exquisite treats for the festivities.

I start with some typical Italian biscuits called cantuccini or tozzetti. They are  quite hard, so people tend to dip them in hot drinks or wine.
You need: 450 g of flour, 250 g of sugar, 2 eggs, the grated zest of a lemon, a glass of milk (about 20 tbsp), 5 tbsp of olive oil, 250 g of hazel nuts (or mixed nuts or hazel nuts and almonds: you can also add chocolate bits if you like), one tsp of baking powder.

Chop the nuts on a chopping board. In a bowl mix the flour with the eggs, milk, olive oil, and sugar. Add the baking powder and the lemon zest, and finally the nuts. The dough should be sticky. Make two loaves and set them on a greased tin. Bake them for about 20 minutes at 150 °C, till  they turn pale brown. Take them out of the oven and cut the two loaves in slices. Then lay them down on the tray and bake again, till the biscuits are ready, for about 20-30 minutes at 150 °C.

Soft trees

You need: 300 g of cornflour, 250 g of plain flour, 200 g of butter, 170 g of sugar, 4 egg yolks, 4 tbsp of milk, a few drops of vanilla flavour or the grated zest of a lemon and a tsp of baking powder.

Whisk the yolks, sugar and lemon zest till the mixture becomes pale and soft. Add the flours, milk and melted butter. Knead the dough, let it rest for fifteen minutes and then roll it out, a quarter of an inch thick. Cut it into the shape you prefer. I used a Christmas tree cutter. Bake the biscuits on a greased tray for 15-20 minutes at 150 °C. Decorate with coloured icing sugar.

Cinnamon stars

You need: two eggs, 250 g of flour, 150 g of sugar,1 tbsp of melted butter, 3 tsp of cinnamon, 100 g of ground hazel nuts, 1 tbsp of juice of lemon and 1 tsp of baking powder.
Whisk the eggs, sugar and cinnamon then add the lemon, nuts and finally flour, butter and  baking powder. Knead the dough and let it rest for ten minutes. Roll it out, about a quarter of an inch thick, and cut the stars. Bake them on a greased tray for 15-20 minutes at 150 °C. Decorate with sugar stars.

Little doughnuts

You need: 450 g of corn flour, 150 g of flour, 150 g of butter, 250 g of sugar, 3 eggs, the grated zest of a lemon, a pinch of salt, half a glass of white wine and 1tsp of baking powder.
Beat the butter until creamy.  Add sugar, then eggs , then all the other ingredients to the mixture and knead it. Shape the dough into little ring doughnuts, making a stick first then joining the ends. Set them on a greased tray and sprinkle with sugar. Bake them for 15-20 minutes at 150 °C.

Almond titbits

You need: 2 egg whites, 200 g of icing sugar, 100 g of ground almonds, the grated zest of a lemon and hundreds and thousands to decorate.
Whip the whites with the sugar till stiff. Add the ground almonds and the zest of a lemon. Make little balls with the help of a teaspoon and set them on a greased tray. Decorate with hundreds and thousands and bake for 45 minutes at 80 °C.


Chocolate titbits

You need: 3 egg whites, 250 g of sugar, 125 g of cocoa powder or finely grated good quality chocolate, 250 g of ground almonds and nuts to decorate.
Whip the whites with the sugar till stiff then add the ground chocolate and ground almonds. Make little balls with the help of a teaspoon and set them on a greased tray. Decorate with different kinds of nuts, or chopped nuts. Bake them for 45 minutes at 80 °C.

Coconut titbits

You need: 2 egg whites, 150 g of sugar, 150 g of desiccated coconut, a grated zest of a lemon and 1 tsp of lemon juice.
Whip the whites with the sugar till stiff. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. Make little balls with the help of a teaspoon and set them on a greased tray. Bake for 45 minutes at 80 °C.

Jam circles

You need: 250 g of self-raising flour, 150 g of butter, 100 g of sugar, 2 egg yolks, the grated zest of a lemon, 1 tbsp of liqueur and jam to decorate.

Beat the butter till it becomes creamy, then add the sugar and the egg yolks. Add the flour, the lemon zest and the liqueur to the mixture. Knead the dough and let it rest in the fridge for half an hour wrapped in a tea towel. Shape the dough into circles about a quarter of an inch thick. Bake them on a greased tray for 20 minutes at 150 °C. Decorate with jam, preferably plum or blackberry jam.

Gingerbread

You need: 250 g of flour, 50 g of butter, 3 tsp of ground ginger, 1 egg, 4 tbsp of milk, 100 g of sugar, 1 tsp of baking powder, a pinch of salt, nuts, candied fruit and coloured icing sugar to decorate.

Beat the butter and add sugar and egg. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Knead the dough and roll it out, about a quarter of an inch thick. Cut in the shape you prefer -- I used the shape of a man and a woman -- and decorate them with nuts, candied fruit and coloured icing sugar. Bake them on a greased tray for 15-20 minutes at 150 °C.

Shortbread moons

You need: 100 g of flour, 100 g of potato flour, 150 g of sugar, 3 boiled egg yolks, 100 g of butter, some vanilla drops, 2tbsp of milk, 1 tsp of baking powder and icing sugar to decorate.

Beat the butter till it is creamy and mix it with the sugar and the boiled yolks of the eggs. Add all the other ingredients, knead the dough and let it rest in the fridge for half an hour wrapped in a tea towel. Roll the dough out, about a quarter of an inch thick, and cut the shape you prefer. I used the shape of a moon and decorated it with icing sugar mixed with water (125g of icing sugar and a tbsp of warm water) and sugar stars. Bake them on a greased tray for 15-20 minutes at 150 °C.

Meringues

You need: 3 egg whites, 150 g of sugar, ground hazel nuts (optional), chocolate chips and hundreds and thousands to decorate.
Whip the whites stiff with the sugar. You can add the ground hazel nuts (about 30 g) to the mixture or part of the mixture. With the help of a spoon set the mixture on a greased tray, forming the meringues. Sprinkle chocolate chips and/or hundreds and thousands on top. Bake for half an hour-45 minutes at  80 °C.

Spiced hearts

For the dough you need: 2 eggs, 200 g of white or wholemeal self-raising flour (optional), 200 g of sugar, 1 tbsp of melted honey, 1 tbsp of melted butter, 2 tsp of cinnamon, and 2 ground cloves.

For the icing: 150 g of icing sugar, 1 tbsp of warm water and 1 tsp of strawberry flavouring.
Whisk the eggs with the sugar, add the other ingredients and knead the dough. Roll it out and cut it into the shape of hearts. Bake them on a greased tray for twenty minutes at 150 °C. When they are cool prepare the icing and spread it on the biscuits using a tea spoon.

Hazelnut flowers

For the dough you need: 300 g of flour, 150 g of butter, 150 g of sugar, 150 g of ground hazel nuts, 2 tsp of cinnamon, 3 eggs, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp of baking powder; and for the icing: 4 tbsp of icing sugar, 2 egg whites and chopped hazel nuts.
Mix the flour with the eggs, sugar, hazel nuts, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Melt the butter in a pan and add it to the mixture. Knead the dough and roll it out, about a quarter of an inch thick. Cut it in the shape of flowers and bake them on a greased tray for twenty minutes at 150 °C. When they are cool prepare the icing. Whip the whites with the icing sugar till stiff, spread it on the biscuit with a tea spoon and sprinkle with chopped hazel nuts. Bake for fifteen minutes at 80 °C.

Sugared sticks

You need: 500 g of flour, 150 g of butter, 7 g of bread yeast, 200 g of sugar, 150 ml of warm water and 1 egg.
Mix half of the flour with the yeast and warm water. Knead it and let it rest for one hour in a warm place covered with a tea towel. Add the melted butter, the egg and the rest of the flour. Knead it and let it rest for one more hour. Knead the dough and make sticks about three inches long, roll them in sugar and bake them on a greased tray for half an hour at 150 °C.

Almond toys

You need: 250 g of flour, 170 g of sugar, 2 eggs, 150 g of ground almonds, 100 g of butter,  4 tbsp of milk, 1 tsp of baking powder and 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda.
Beat the butter till it is creamy then add the sugar and eggs. Add all the other ingredients and knead the dough. Let it rest in the fridge for half an hour wrapped in a tea towel. Roll the dough out and cut it into toy shapes. I used the shape of a car, an aeroplane and little hearts. Bake them on a greased tray for twenty minutes at 150 °C. When they are cool, decorate them with coloured icing sugar.

Orange stars

For the dough you need: one orange (alternative: one lemon), 250 g of self-raising flour, 100 g of sugar, 100 g of butter, 2 eggs; and for the icing: 150 g of icing sugar and 2 tbsp of citrus juice.
Beat the butter and add the sugar and the eggs. Add the grated zest of the orange or lemon to the mixture and 5 tbsp of the juice. Add the flour and knead the dough. Roll it out, about a quarter of an inch thick, and cut out the stars. Set them on a greased tray and bake for 15-20 minutes, 150 °C. Decorate with the icing sugar mixed with 2 tbsp of juice and with hundreds and thousands.

Chocolate hearts

For the dough you need: 250 g of flour, 150 g of sugar, 2 eggs, 150 g of butter, 5 tbsp of milk, 100 g of ground hazel nuts, 1 tsp of baking powder and half a tsp of bicarbonate of soda; and for the decoration: 100 g of a chocolate bar, 1 tbsp of liqueur and 2 tbsp of water.
Beat the butter till it is creamy and add sugar and eggs. Add the flour and hazel nuts, the other ingredients, and knead the dough. Let it rest in the fridge for half an hour wrapped in a tea towel. Roll it out, about a quarter of an inch thick, and cut out the hearts. Bake for half 15-20 minutes at 150 °C. When they are cool prepare the chocolate decoration, melting the chocolate bar in a pan with the liqueur and water. Dip half of each heart in the melted chocolate and let it cool on a tray.
That’s all for this year. I hope you enjoyed my biscuits and you are going to make delicious treats for your Christmas festivities.

Easter biscuits

A treat for Easter time
For Easter my favourite dishes are pastiera (a traditional cake from Naples) and Easter pizza, but this year I thought I'd simply make some delicious biscuits in the shape of bunnies and chicks. Here is what you need:
100 g of butter, 100 g of sugar, 150 g of flour, one whole egg and two whites, one tsp of baking powder, half a tsp of bicarbonate of soda and coloured icing to decorate.

Preheat the oven to 150°C.
Beat the butter until soft, then stir in the sugar and the whole egg. Whip the whites till stiff and add them to the mixture; add the rest of the ingredients and knead the dough for a while (add more flour if it is too soft and sticky). Roll out the dough and cut into shapes (I used bunny, chick and butterfly) and set them on a greased tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes. When they are cold decorate with blue, pink and yellow icing sugar.

My mum’s recipes

In Rome my mum and I experimented with some recipes. It was a great way to spend time together and produce something good.
The first one is a focaccia, something between pizza and bread and the second is a recipe for biscuits which reminded me of Jammie Dodgers.

For the focaccia you need: 150 g of boiled and mashed potatoes, 500 g of white flour, two tsp of salt, two tbsp of oil, dried yeast, 300 ml of warm water, ten small tomatoes and oregano.
Mix the mashed potatoes and flour, then add salt, oil, and yeast. Pour in the water and knead the dough till it’s smooth and springy. Cover it with a wet tea towel and let it rest for two hours in a warm place. When the dough is risen, knead it again and roll it out (about half an inch thick) or spread it on an oiled tin using your fingers. Slice the tomatoes and set them on top of the dough then sprinkle salt, oil and oregano on it. Bake for half an hour at 180°C.
For the biscuits you need: 500 g of flour, 150 g of sugar, one tsp of baking powder, half a tsp of bicarbonate of soda, the grated grind of a lemon, three eggs, 75 ml of sunflower oil, jam and icing sugar.
Mix all the ingredients, apart from the jam and the icing sugar, in a bowl. When the dough is smooth and non sticky, roll it out and cut out round shapes (I used a glass). Set the shapes on a greased tin and spread jam on it (I used apricot jam). Then cut the same round shapes and make a round hole in the middle using a thimble or something bigger. Set the second shape on top of the first and bake it 150°C for 15-20 minutes. You can dust the top with icing sugar.
Enjoy!



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