I just don’t have anywhere near enough time to bake these days. Thankfully, I’ve got a few days off over the Xmas and New Year break so I’m making these lovely cantuccini biscuits to wrap in pretty cellophane bags and give away as presents. You can buy these from Italian deli shops but these are soooooo much nicer – delicious dipped in a strong cup of coffee or some Vin Santo dessert wine. They are pretty easy to make and will fill your kitchen with the fabulous scent of vanilla.
Makes about 30 biscuits
- 250g plain flour or Italian 00 (I used Spelt flour this time and they were lovely)
- 250 golden caster sugar (Billington’s preferably)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 eggs, beaten + one egg yolk and 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- 100g whole nuts e.g. almonds, pistachios and/or hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp of whole fennel seeds
- A pinch of sea salt
- Egg wash (egg yolk and a splash of water) to glaze
You can substitute some of the flour with cocoa and add chopped hazelnuts and orange zest for a delicious alternative.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or non-stick liner
- Put the flour, baking powder, salt, fennel seeds and sugar into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Stir in the beaten egg and vanilla. Mix with a spoon or your hands until you have a smoothish dough.
- Place on a lightly floured surface and knead in the nuts.
- Divide the mixture into 2 and roll out into a compact log shape about 4cm wide.
- Lightly glaze with a little egg wash. Place each log crosswise on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 35 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 150°.
- Allow the logs to cool slightly and then cut into 2.5cm slices at a slight angle. Lay them cut side up on the baking sheets.
- Return them to the oven for another 30 minutes or until they are no longer soft. Allow them to cool.
- Keep them in an airtight container until you want to eat them or place a half dozen or so in a pretty gift bag to give as a present.
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