On my recent trip to Italy I was expecting to go mad for all the pizza, pasta and gelato and of course I absolutely did. I intuitively knew I was going explore more pastries than I had done on previous trips, but I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by biscotti. In Florence at the Mercato Centrale I encountered a dedicated biscotti shop and went a little overboard trying out all the incredible flavours. From white chocolate to orange and almond to seemingly everything in between. Biscotti became a feature on my entire holiday and it was the perfect snack to carry around as its sturdy and helps ease you through long train trips. With this recipe for biscotti I’ve added all the flavours of a hot cross bun because who doesn’t like spice & raisins in their biscotti. I mean why not, it’s Easter next soon after all.
I use my friend Carolie De Kosters recipe from her ‘Home Bakes’ cookbook (published by Lannice Snyman in 2001) as my base. This book is one of my baking ‘bibles’. Carolie and I chat from time via Facebook and she was telling me about the biscotti she was making (she lives in New Zealand now) and I mentioned I wanted to do a hot cross bun version. This was a good place to start.
I used 2 whole eggs vs. the 1 egg and 1 egg white in the original recipe and added about 100gms more flour. I didn’t chill the dough for as long as she suggested and I added all the hot cross bun flavoured bits. I adore nuts in biscotti so next time I would definitely add a few almonds to the mix. I’ve used mixture of dried cranberries, dried current and raisins. These are fairly spicy, so if you want to make them milder drop the mixed spice to about 1/4 teaspoon.
These biscotti have a finer crumb so you don’t feel like you could crack a tooth on them and this is a lovely base recipe. I can’t wait to experiment with a few more flavour variants to bring back memories from my magical trip last year. I’m thinking double chocolate chip and an orange and almond one. watch this space.
Recipe – makesa lot
Hot cross bun biscottiPrint Recipe
- 2 large free-range eggs
- ½ cup sunflower oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 150 gms sugar
- 300 gms flour
- pinch salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- Finely grated zest of an orange
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 3 Tbsp dried candied citrus peel
- 150 gms raisins / currents / cranberries all dried obvs
- Beat the egg, oil, vanilla and sugar with an electric mixer until well combined.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and briefly mix briefly until to you have a sticky dough.
- Empty the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until its is smooth and no longer sticky (add more flour as needed).
- Dived the dough into two and roll each half into a fat roll about 30cm long. Place these, spaced apart on a lined baking tray and then put in the fridge or freezer (this cools the dough down which prevents it from spreading – you could do this over night)
- While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 180C / 350F
- Place the tray in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 160C / 325F and bake for 20 – 30 minutes and until the biscotti are lightly golden and firm. Remove and allow to cool slightly. Reduce the oven temperature to 100C / 212F
- Cut the biscotti on the diagonal into slices about 1.5cm thick and lay these back on the lined baking sheet next to each other.
- Return this to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Place a cloth in the door to keep it slightly ajar and then bake for a further 15 minutes. Remove the cloth and turn off the oven. Allow the biscotti to dry out in the oven until it is cool.
- Add extra fruit and nuts if you like a lot of bits in your biscotti
A few picture of biscotti taken in Florence and a few where I helped make it at El Gelso Bianco in Tuscany
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