It was one of those days where I just HAD to bake something. Actually, I was ALREADY baking something but that's not the point; once you catch the bug, it's quite persistent. The more accurate description of my mood at the time was that I just HAD to continue baking despite not knowing what I wanted to make or what I wanted to eat.
My normal mode of action in these types of situations is to flip through my countless supply of cookbooks and find something that can be done with whatever ingredients I have in the pantry. On this day, I happened to be in my parents house. The act of looking through cookbooks with a goal in mind is so enjoyable to me that I even took the time to make myself comfortable with a bowl of noodles and set up in front of the couch. I had short-listed a few of my most fundamental baking cookbooks to use as reference.
In the end, I went with a biscotti recipe from Nick Malgieri's 'The Modern Baker'. It's called Biscotti Regina and is a once-baked biscotti covered with sesame seeds. I divided the original recipe by 3.
Makes ~ 12-15 cookies
- 1 cup and 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- tiny pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- egg wash: 1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt
- 2/3 cups untoasted sesame seeds
1. Preheat to 160 degrees Celsius.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to mix.
3. Add butter and pulse repeatedly until butter is finely mixed in, but mixture is still cool and powdery.4. Add egg and vanilla, and pulse repeatedly until dough forms a ball.
5. Briefly knead the dough to make it smooth. Shape dough into a rough cylinder and divide dough into 4 equal pieces.
6. Roll 1 piece of dough into a rope about 25-30cm long. Cut dough into 6cm long cylinders. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough, lining up cylinders on the left side of your work surface.7. Prepare a cookie sheet/baking try by lining it with parchment or foil.
8. After all the cookies have been formed, place egg wash and sesame seeds, each in a separate shallow bowl, next to the cookies, and place baking pans to their right.
9. Drop one of the cookies into the egg wash and use a fork to turn it over so it is completely covered. Use the fork to lift it out of the egg wash, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, and place it on the sesame seeds. Use a second fork to roll the cookie around in the sesame seeds to cover it completely. Use same fork to transfer the coated cookie to one of the prepared pans.
10. Bake cookies until they are risen, firm, and sesame seeds are golden, about 30 minutes. Wait for them to completely cool down before munching.
Note: to store, keep cookies between sheets of wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid at room temperature.
The fragrance of the sesame toasting in the oven was rather irresistible. Once the cookies have cooled down, they're extremely crispy. I've never made biscotti before and these were so easy to bake. The little bite-sized pieces are crunchy and crumbly and go excellently with a cup of hot tea or coffee.
On an odd side-note, my parents thought the Biscotti Regina tasted a lot like a Shanghainese cookie from their childhood. They liked them too (perhaps for that reason). Biscotti is a very understated style of biscuit - never flash, complex or overwhelming in its flavors. These fit that description in that they're very simple but also addictive.