Thursday, 13 October 2011

Lemon quaresimali

I had no idea what these would turn out like, given the rare lack of accompanying picture in this shiny book – I was drawn to the name, so Italian and operatic-like, and I had lemons to the rafters; the double-baking technique wasn’t something I’d done before, so there was the curiosity factor. As it turned out, they’re just big, lemony, nutty cantucci biscotti.

And not for those with sensitive teeth until they’ve had a good dunking in a beverage of choice – not for nothing are they Lenten biscuits of penance.

Adapted from David Lebovitzs Ready for Dessert, p219

245g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg for brushing
265g sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fine zest of 2 lemons
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
250g whole almonds, toasted I used half hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a tray with baking paper.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until well blended, then mix in the whole almonds.

With wet hands, shape the dough into two logs about 30cm long and 6cm in diameter and place on a tray lined with baking paper. Stir the remaining egg in a small bowl and brush each log generously with it, then give them a second coat. Dont feel compelled to use up all the egg itll be much too much and will run everywhere, take it from me. Better to toss the remainder into a handy omelette or give it to the cat.

Bake the logs for 2530 minutes until golden-brown and firm; theyll expand and flatten while baking. (I baked two side-by side on the one square tray, and feared they’d run into each other, but they missed that by a whisker still, if you have a fancy Italian oven that accommodates two trays on the upper rack, probably best to separate them.) When done, remove the tray from the oven and reduce the heat to 150C.

Allow the much-expanded golden shiny logs to cool for 10 minutes before slicing them crosswise 2cm apart with a sharp serrated knife. Arrange the slices cut-side-down on the tray and return to the oven for 20 minutes, after which they’ll cool to a hard lemony crunchiness, excellent for coffee-dunking.

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