I thought I’d share a few baking recipes that I’ve tried out over the last few weeks. Having lived without an oven for four months in Belgium I’ve been making the most of the beautiful one at Liz’s house. Since we got back to Italy I’ve (uncharacteristically) been baking away madly.
The latest bout of baking fever hit after Liz and I bought a big bag of black sesame seeds from an Asian grocery store in Torino. The next day a recipe for Black Sesame Lace Cookies hit my inbox, so I had to try it.
I mixed up the batter for the Black Sesame Cookies and then put it in the fridge for the minimum four-hour resting time. Then, following the ‘while the oven’s hot make the most of it’ philosophy I decided to try a recipe for a healthy fruit and nut slice that I’d found on the website of the Otago Daily Times.
This slice recipe uses oil, honey and mashed dates instead of their evil but charismatic cousins butter and sugar. It was really tasty, but I think the next time I make it I’ll double the amount of date and honey mixture as the slice was just a little crumbly and dry.
With the slice in the oven Liz decided now was the right moment to whip up a batch of Dead Bread. Traditionally a Christmas recipe, these could more accurately be called Franken-Biscuits because the recipe is designed to use up all of the stale biscuits you have in the back of the cupboard. You can find the recipe (in Italian) here.
I’ve translated it into English and added a few notes below. The original recipe has great step-by-step photos though, so do go and check it out if you are planning on cooking these.
Pan dei morti (Franken-Biscuits)
100ml Sweet wine or liqueur (e.g. Vin Santo)
100g Amaretti biscuits
300g Savoiardi biscuits
100g Other dry biscuits
120g Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts etc.)
1 Teaspoon all-spice
250g Flour (all-purpose)
2 Heaped teaspoons baking powder
120g Dried figs, chopped
6 Egg whites
Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Prepare a biscuit tray with baking paper.
1. Soak the sultanas in the sweet wine or liqueur, set aside
2. Process the biscuits in a food processor until they have the consistency of course almond meal (you may need to do them in batches). Remove to a large mixing bowl.
3. Process the nuts in the food processor to the same consistency. Add to the mixing bowl.
4. Add the all-spice, flour, baking powder, sugar, cocoa and figs and mix all together.
5. Add the sultanas, the sweet wine and the egg whites and mix thoroughly. The mix may take a little while to come together – it’s best to get your hands in and knead the mixture almost like dough.
6. Once the mix is cohesive roll it out to just under 2cm thick (I did two batches as there is so much dough). Cut into shapes and arrange on the baking tray, the biscuits won’t spread much so you can fit quite a lot in at once.
7. Bake for 25 minutes and then cool on a wire rack.
The biscuits turn out firm and chewy, and are absolutely perfect with a cup of tea or coffee. Enjoy!
P.S. You’re wondering about the Black Sesame Cookies right? Well after the slice and the Dead Bread came out of the oven we decided that was really enough snack food for a day or two. The Cookie recipe said the mix could wait in the fridge for up to a week, so I thought I’d leave the baking for a few days.
A week and a half later I finally got around to baking the cookies. I was careful to space the balls of batter out as the recipe warned that it was prone to ‘spread like crazy’. In any case this was the result …
Not my best effort!