Monday, 22 December 2008
Twice baked - and I mean it! And that's got nothing to do with the regular procedure to bake them, slice them, and then return them to the oven for added crunch and a golden glow.
Having seen lots of biscotti recipes in blogland, I wanted to know if they were really that good. My only encounter so far had been the rock-hard store bought kind that almost cost me a tooth. So, one of these days, I decided to give them a go. However, these biscuits turned out to be not quite as easy to make as I had thought. Not willing to be conquered by some cookies, I decided to start again a few days later, albeit again with mixed results.
But let's start with the first batch. Emerging from its first stint in the oven, it looked just perfect - from above, that is. Once I had the logs sliced up, I noticed that I almost burned the bottom sides. Cursing under my breath - it clearly must be the oven's fault - I returned them to the heat but carefully laid them out side wise as not to brown the bottoms any further.
For the second batch, I decided to turn down the heat and use the fan-bake setting. But disaster struck once more. When I took the logs out of the oven - pale golden but with darker edges - to be sliced up for the second browning, it turned out that this batch wasn't even done all the way. I quickly returned the uncut logs and peeped anxiously through the oven door. Luckily the baking powder was still doing its job and the logs rose some more. However, a little too much as it turned out. When fully baked, this batch with its cracked surface and less than smooth texture had a rather "rustic" charm to it - at least that's what I think smart people call their baked goods that aren't picture-perfect...
Taste-wise though, I almost preferred the charred batch. The over-the-top caramelization of the crust added more depth of flavour. Therefore, a third batch is in order some time soon - once I'm done with all the Christmas baking - and then with a double-layer of baking sheets!
I started out with a recipe from delicious days and kept to its instructions but made a couple of modifications regarding the ingredients, most notably the addition of maize flour.
90g unpeeled almonds, partly whole and partly chopped
100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
50g lemon caster sugar (in a jar, mix sugar with lemon zest and let it sit for a few days)
5 drops of bitter almond essence
pinch of salt
80g fine maize flour