Ahh, Biscuit Week. The week when I marvel at the flavour combinations other people come up with, and simply just can't believe that a 3D biscuit construction is possible. If you've been reading my recent posts, you'll know that I'm attempting to bake something from the Great British Bake Off every week. This week it was a bit of a toss up between baking biscotti and arlettes. (I'd already ruled out the biscuit box on account of my inability to stick biscuits together. Check out the third item on my Baking Bloopers post). In the end, I went for the biscotti as I had tried the technical challenge last week.
Flavourwise, I just went for the ingredients we had in the cupboard. Almond and pistachio seems to be a popular combination and I can confirm that they work very well indeed. I was in two minds as to whether to add the chocolate or not, but I'm very glad that I did because it finishes off the biscuit nicely. And these biscuits do indeed taste how I think biscotti taste, although I may have my food memory a little muddled as I thought they also remind me of baby rusk biscuits!
I was a bit confused about the correct texture of biscotti - just how crisp and crunchy should they be?! I went for edible as a minimum requirement. Mine were pretty solid, but softened easily with a quick dunk into hot coffee. Actually, these might be the ideal dunking biscuits. It would take a lot to make them break!
Now for the recipe. I used a Paul Hollywood one this time (it's only fair, I used one of Mary's last week). It was simple enough to follow, if a little misleading with the '30 minute' bake time - that means 30 minutes for each of the two baking periods! I also used too much egg but this was easy enough to rectify by adding equal amounts of flour and sugar until the dough was the right consistency.
To make 10-12 biscotti:
250g plain white flour
1/2tsp baking powder
250g caster sugar
2-3 medium eggs, beaten
100g white chocolate
1. Begin by pre-heating the oven to 140°c (or 160°c with no fan), and grease and line a baking tray.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, then add a little at a time to the flour and sugar, stirring each time. You are aiming for a firm, non-sticky dough so you may not need all the egg. (If you do over-do it, just add equal parts flour and sugar until it's right).
3. Shell the pistachios if necessary, then roughly chop all the nuts into chunks. The size is up to you, but larger pieces work best here. Add the nuts to your dough and mix in using your hands.
4. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, knead lightly and then divide into two equal amounts. Roll each one into a log about 3-4cm diameter and place on the baking tray.
5. Bake for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes (the actual recipe says 10, but I'm impatient and it worked ok for me...) so that the dough firms up enough to be cut. Transfer to a board, cut the log diagonally into slices about 1.5cm thick. Put the slices back onto the baking tray, laying them flat. Bake for another 20-30 minutes until the middle of each one has dried.
(While they have their second bake, you can sample any leftover crumbly bits from the first bake. I tweeted about this and it got favourited by last year's GBBO winner, Nancy, which I took as sign this bake was going to be a success...)
6. Remove from the oven and cool. Melt the chocolate over a pan of hot water, then use a spoon to drizzle across the biscotti. Or you could pipe it if you're feeling fancy.
7. Enjoy alongside hot coffee, or sweet Italian wine. (I hate sweet wine. Definitely wouldn't enjoy that).
I'm excited about bread week tonight - and making bread this week. Make sure to come back to see my annual home-made loaf of bread next week, haha!