While sitting at my desk trying to revise I got the urge for some cookies to munch on. Soft and chewy chocolate cookies and all well and good but I was in the mood for something crisp and crunchy. The kind of cookie that I could nibble at and would creating a light scattering of crumbs that I could chase across the plate with my finger, and I immediately decided on biscotti.
I had a rummage around my cupboards and unearthed a pack of poppy seeds and decided that lemon and poppy seed would be the flavour for my biscotti. Traditional Italian biscotti are very hard and brittle and require dipping into a drink of some kind before eating, but American style biscotti use a little butter in the dough which results in a more tender biscuit that are suitable for eating on their own without fear of chipping a tooth but still hold up well if dipped in a hot drink – the best of both worlds.
A lemony fragrance filled my kitchen as these baked, a smell that always gets my mouth watering. Once baked, the poppy seeds contributed a subtle crunch and a slightly smoky tea-like flavour that went well with the zesty lemon. The good thing about biscotti is that they keep for several weeks and I now have a small stash of them sitting in a tupperware box on my desk and whenever I get a bit fed up with revision, I take a break, get a drink and enjoy nibbling on a biscotti or two.
Biscotti are also perfect for sending as a gift through the post as they won’t go stale before they get to the recipient and are sturdy enough to avoid turning up as a bag of crumbs.
Lemon & Poppy Seed Biscotti
(Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour Company)
125g caster sugar
265g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking powder
1½ tbsp poppy seeds
Zest of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and finely grated zest of the lemon together until smooth.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time. It may look slightly curdled but this is ok.
Sift over the flour and add the poppy seeds and baking powder. Mix until a thick but sticky dough is formed.
Divide the dough in half and shape/press each half into a thin log shape (about 20cm x 5cm) and lay far apart on the baking tray. Wet your fingers with water to help you shape the dough without it sticking to your fingers.
Bake in the oven for 22-25 minutes until lightly golden brown and crusty on top.
Remove from the oven and either spritz with water or lay a damp clean tea towel or wet kitchen roll over the top to prevent the biscotti crust from going crisp and brittle.
Reduce the oven to 165C.
Leave for 5 minutes to allow to cool slightly and the top to soften before cutting into 1cm thick slices using a serrated bread knife.
Stand the slices back on the baking tray and bake for 12 minutes before rotating the tray and baking for a further 5 minutes.
Remove the biscotti from the oven and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container. They will keep well for several weeks. Enjoy dipped into a hot drink, crumbled over ice-cream, as an accompaniment to a fruit fool or on their own.
Makes around 30-35 biscotti.