Biscotti Picanti

We might have a new favorite snack around here. Upon reading the recipe Lien chose for the Bread Baking Babes’ fourth anniversary (!), I predicted deliciousness, because it features quite a few of my favorite ingredients: semolina, anise seeds, olive oil. It’s hard to go wrong with that combination. Even so, I wasn’t prepared for how much I would like these wildly aromatic, savory (but sweet, without a speck of sugar, thanks to the anise), flaky, crumbly Biscotti Picanti (Spicy Sicilian Rusks) from Anissa Helou’s terrific book, Savory Baking from the Mediterranean.

Biscotti means “twice baked,” indicating the two baking phases involved here. The recipe calls for loaves of dough to be sliced prior to proofing, then baked initially on high heat before separating the slices and allowing them to dry thoroughly in a cooler oven. Because I added a little too much olive oil (140 grams instead of 130 – 135), and probably for other mysterious reasons, my dough was much too soft to slice before baking. So I baked the three loaves at 500F for 15 minutes, then sliced them with a serrated knife (at which point, my number one taste tester sampled one and declared “I. Love. Them.”) and spread the slices out on the baking sheet to dry at 175F.

I’m not apologizing for the extra olive oil; I’ll use the same amount when I make them again, because I. Love.Them. And already my mind is awhirl with ideas for variations on this delightful snack: What other seeds and spices could we include? What about toppings? And I’m dreaming of a sourdough version, of course.

I do believe the Babes (for links, see my right sidebar) are unanimous this month in pronouncing these biscotti a winner. Please bake with us! The recipe is here on Lien’s blog. To be included in the Buddy roundup, send a photo plus a link to your blog post or photo-sharing site to Lien by February 28.


CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    Totally, yes, Susan, ideas for variety in these abound. Delightful just they way they are but then Babes just goat’ play right and tip the wine!
    Loverly as always.

  2. says

    Gosh, I’ve never made biscotti, but the way you are talking about these got me tempted

    I am usually turned off by their hard texture, but….. maybe I should re-consider ;-)

  3. didardi says

    This looks really delicious!

    Just want to correct a small thing: “biscotti” doesn’t mean “doubly baked”. It’s just the Italian word meaning “biscuit”. Basically all the cookies in Italy are called “biscotti”, each with certain descriptional words attached. The thing that called “Biscotti” in almost every American cafe doesn’t exist in Italy, but it closely resembles a kind of Italian cookie called “Cantuccini” in Tuscany. Cantuccini is baked in a similar fashion as the American Biscotti (the version without any fat). The major difference is the size: Cantuccini is as small as the thumb of a kid.

  4. says

    o yes I love the olive oil in it a lot too! I’ll try a little bit more of it next time. And now the difficulty of choosing one of the many possible variations.
    Happy anniversary Babe!

  5. says

    love biscotti in every shape, looking forward to try these. our Italian “babes” group recently chose a sweet biscotti recipe (the traditional Tuscan one, with almonds). it will be interesting to see all the different versions of this salty version. Sicilian?

  6. Ryuki says

    thanks for the tips, I have try it and it is really delicious and the texture is very nice.

    Ryuki: www dot ninja-scripts dot com

  7. says

    I’m going to bake these now….

    @ Didardi Actually biscotti (plural of biscotto) does mean twice cooked (bis – latin for twice, cotti: from cuocere, to cook….) – and it is true that in Italy biscotti is the word for biscuits (British word for cookies, probably derived from French, which by the way means exactly the same thing – cooked twice)

    and while I’m wearing the (italian) teacher’s cap… it is piccanti, not picanti….. :)
    I am quite surprised that t
    he original recipe slices the log before the first bake – usually they are sliced after, exactly like you did.


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