You might know them as biscotti but in Tuscany you’ll hear these small, crunchy cookies referred to as cantuccini. The cooking class given by the local women during our stay in Lucca included a lesson in the art of making these traditional cookies. Even though I’ve been making biscotti for quite some time now, I was very interested in having a lesson from someone really in the know. Right off the bat I learned a new way for forming the dough. I usually throw the ingredients into the Kitchen Aid to mix it up, but we were shown how to form the dough all by hand, not a mixer in sight.
As you can see from the photo, we started using the “well method” that is used in making pasta. The eggs were incorporated into the flour and sugar using our fingers and then we added whole almonds and orange extract. The recipe actually calls for orange zest, but our instructor hadn’t brought an orange with her.
Next we formed logs, brushed them with an egg wash and off into the oven they went. There’s a few things that I love about this recipe-not using a mixer, using whole almonds rather than chopped, and the amount of baking time. The recipe I’ve been using has a total baking time of 1 hour and 20 minutes. These take only about an hour. I’m giving you the recipe as it was given to us-in grams-so if you have a scale, go ahead and use it instead of converting the quantities into ounces.
300 grams all purpose flour
200 grams sugar
200 grams whole almonds
grated zest one orange
4 grams baking powder
1 egg beaten for an egg wash
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Work the flour, baking powder, sugar and eggs together with your hands to form a dough. Work the almonds and orange zest into the dough. Make three long thin logs, brush them with the egg wash and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, let sit for about 5 minutes and then cut the logs on the diagonal into smaller pieces. Lower the oven temperature to 300 and bake the cantuccini for 20 more minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Store in an airtight container and these have a great shelf life.
Personally, I love these with my morning cappuccino. In Italy they are tradionally served after a meal dipped into Vin Santo (a sweet wine) and our instructor brought along a bottle so we could get into the spirit of the locals and we were happy to oblige!
Come along and bake some cantuccini with me:
Autumn in Tuscany-Cook with Panini Girl in Lucca