Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bread Baking Babes: Biscotti Picanti

The Babes are back!

And not only are we back but this month we are celebrating four fabulous years of sharing a kitchen and yeasty classroom together. I can't believe I've been with this incredible group of women baking breads. Even more so, I can't believe that they've kept me around for four years.

To celebrate this milestone, we are making a really unique bread, courtesy of host kitchen, Lien of Notitie van Lien, Biscotti Picanti

I was fascinated by this bread. I had never heard of rusks and after the Babes that share the back bench of our little haven educated me, I was excited to give these try.

The dough was really easy to make and it makes so much, I divided it into two and made two different versions: Roasted Garlic with Sea Salt and Bacon Cheese.

Biscotti Picanti

I really like both but if I was to make these again, I'd just make a big batch of the roasted garlic and sea salt. They were perfect as the backdrop for cheese and cured meats but really good on their own.

To bake along with the Babes this month and be a Buddy, bake the Biscotti Picanti, blog about it or post it to your facebook page, or any other place you want to post it to and contact Lien via her email with a link to your post. She'll send you nice badge to put on your post.

Also, if you do blog or post somewhere else about this fantastic bread please place a link to incredibly gracious Anissa Halou's Blog. She was so sweet to let us blog about her recipe and re-post it verbatim (A refreshing attitude in the land of food blogs). While your at it, go visit her blog because it is full of fabulous photos and food.

Biscotti Picanti (Sicilian Spicy Rusks)
(makes about 36 rusks)

2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (1 package = 7 grams)
60 ml warm water
1 ⅔ (± 225 g) cups AP-flour (+ extra for kneading and shaping)
1 ⅔ (240 g) cups semolina flour
¼ cups (25 g) aniseed
3 TBsp (28 g) white sesame seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup + 2 TBsp (150 ml/130 g) extra-virgin olive oil (+ extra for greasing the bowl)
¼ cup (60 ml) dry white wine
115 ml water

1. Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup/60 ml warm water and stir until creamy.

2. Combine flours, aniseed, sesame seeds, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the olive oil in the well and rub into the flour with your fingertips until well incorporated.

3. Add yeast, wine and ½ cup (115 ml) warm water en knead briefly to make a rough ball of dough. Knead this for another 3-5 minutes or so. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
Knead for another 3 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and let rise in a lightly greased bowl, covered with greased plastic, for 1 hour in a warm place (or until doubled).

4. Divide the dough in 3 equal pieces and shape each piece into a loaf about 12”( 30 cm) long.
Transfer the logs to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and leaving at least 2 inches/5 cm between them so they can expand. Take a dough cutter (or sharp knife) and cut the loaves into 1 inch/2,5 cm thick slices (or if you prefer them thinner in 1"/1 cm slices). Cover with greased plastic and let the rise for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 500ºF/260ºC.

5. Bake the sliced loaves for 15 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 175ºF/80ºC.
Separate the slices and turn so that they lie flat on the baking sheet. Return to the oven and bake for about 1 hour more, or until golden brown and completely hardened (if not totally hardened, return to the turned off oven to let them dry more).Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Serve at room temperature, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.Link

(source: “Savory baking from the Mediterranean” - Anissa Helou)