CANTUCCI DI PRATO (almond biscotti)

Adapted from Anna Del Conte – the concise Gastronomy of Italy

  • A pinch of saffron
  • 1 teaspoon boiling water
  • 100g (1 cup) almonds in their skins, roughly chopped
  • 40g (⅓ cup) pine nuts
  • 250g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 225g (1 ¼ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds

Heat oven to 200℃ (400℉). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Crush the saffron between two metal tablespoons, place in a small bowl and top with a teaspoon of boiling water, allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Place the chopped almonds and pine nuts on a baking tray and toast in the heated oven until lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove from the oven and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder.
In a small bowl beat eggs, add the saffron water and all threads as well as the fennel seeds to the eggs, mix until well combined.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the egg mixture in, using a metal spoon or spatula combine the ingredients until you have a very soft dough (nearly a batter but not quite).

Divide the dough in half, shaping each half into a rough loaf shape, if the dough is very sticky flour your hands well to do this, each loaf should be about 12 inches long. Space them well apart on the baking sheet as they will spread a lot.

Bake 15-18 minutes until set.

Take the tray out of the oven, and lower the temperature to 150℃ (300℉). Using a sharp serrated knife and a cutting board, slice the cantucci along the short end into 1cm (½ inch) slices. Return the slices to the cookie sheet laying them flat. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until well dried out.

Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. They will keep for 2-3 months.