Biscotti with Fruit and Nuts

Many biscotti recipes are around; the true Italian twice-baked biscuits have no butter or oil. This recipe is gluten-free, fat-free (ignoring the nuts), & dairy-free. As referenced in The Guardian (comedy column).

Adapted from James Martin.

Makes: 30 biscotti (but it can easily be halved)

Ingredients

  • 290g gluten-free flour
  • 250g sugar – soft light brown or golden caster are best
  • 2 heaped tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp each of two ground spices (see Zest & Spices footnote)
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 175g chopped nuts (see Nuts footnote)
  • 200g dried fruit (see Fruit footnote)
  • grated zest of 1/2 lemon, or 1/2 small orange (see Zest & Spices footnote)

Kit

  • 2 baking trays, with parchment/baking paper to line both trays
  • 1 large mixing bowl, and one smaller bowl for beaten eggs
  • Citrus zester
  • Cooling rack
  • Chopping surface
  • Long and sharp serrated knife

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C (165 C fan-assisted).
  2. Line two baking trays with parchment. Fold a centre pleat about 2″ high in the paper, standing up lengthways, for one tray.
  3. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and spices to a large bowl and mix with a fork.
  4. Add the beaten egg to the dry ingredients about 1/4 at a time, stirring really thoroughly between. You want a fairly damp dough but not a sloppy one – you may not use all the egg.
  5. Add the nuts, dried fruit, and zest, and mix until evenly distributed.
  6. Lightly dampen your hands, take half the mixture, and quickly form a long log shape. Lay it in one side of the tray prepared with the pleat. Re-wet your hands and repeat for the rest of the mixture. Lightly dampen your hands again, and shape each log evenly and thinly on each side of the tray. (The mixture will spread out. The pleat is to keep the two logs from joining in the middle).
    BiscottiLogsSM
  7. Bake 30-35 minutes until firm and lightly browned (turn the trays halfway through for even baking). The centre of each log should not give to the touch.
  8. Remove the tray from the oven, and lift the baking parchment off the tray onto a cooling rack. Cool at least 20 minutes, then peel each log off the parchment and move to a chopping surface.
  9. Slice each log, slightly at an angle, into 3/4″ wide slices. Use the knife slowly and carefully, and angle the knife up and down at each end to avoid bits of the ends crumbling off.
  10. Lay each slice cut-side up on the original tray (pleat flattened out), and on the second prepared tray.
  11. Return to the oven for around 8 minutes, then turn each slice over, then back again for around 10 minutes. You want them browned, but not too dark. They won’t be ultra-crispy yet so don’t wait for that to happen in the oven.
  12. Once out of the oven, let the biscotti cool on the baking trays. They will keep in an airtight container up to a week.

Nuts
Almonds are the traditional biscotti nut. But macadamia nuts are excellent; they’re tasty but also softer, and make slicing the 1st bake much easier. (If you use almonds, don’t add them whole unless you have a really sharp serrated knife). Pistachios, brazil nuts, and hazelnuts are also commonly used. Try a 3/4 mix of [white] nuts with 1/4 of pumpkin seeds for colour.

Fruit
Most dried fruits are suitable – dates, raisins, sultanas, cranberries, apricots, cherries, you name it. Use one, or two, or more to your taste. Classic combinations are cranberry & macadamia, apricot & pistachio, and date & almond.

Fresh fruit aren’t really suitable as they can make the mixture too liquid, and/or result in biscuits that break at holes formed around the fruit pieces.

Zest and Spices
Don’t over-do the spices added – 2 different but complementary ones, 1/2 teaspoon each, is enough. Cinnamon, allspice, ginger, mace, and nutmeg are all good, but think about what works with the dried fruit you’re using. The same goes for zest – I use orange zest with cranberries and apricots, but lemon zest with raisins, cherries, and dates.

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