Every year before we went on our annual December holiday to Keurboomstrand on the Garden Route, my Mom would bake “holiday cookies”. But my Mom was not your average cookie baker. She would bake many different types of cookies, filling up around 10-15 huge cookie tins. She had marathon baking sessions in our house for weeks on end, using me and my siblings (child labour, I’m telling you) to roll small round balls of dough which would be flattened with a fork by one of us in the production line. Loads of raw cookie dough would end up in our mouths, though, so that was one of the secret perks of working in the line. We would then devour ice-cream containers full of cookies on the beach, after our long salty swimming sessions, washing them down with cheap yellow cool drinks. Those days were total bliss!
So now my baking session has started for my December holiday. We’re only going away after Christmas, but this time of year I am so busy at my day job that there is sadly very little time for blogging or baking. So the session will have to be stretched out over the next few weeks, doing a little at a time, maybe filling up a tin or 3 before we leave. I have no aspirations this year to top my Mother’s record-breaking cookie production of yesteryear, but I will surely attempt to bake the tastiest cookies around: orange and almond biscotti, coffee cookies (the ones with the fudgey filling), custard cookies, and maybe some choc chip. Still have to decide.
This recipe for orange and almond biscotti comes from Ina Paarman, and is simply delicious: Just the right texture, just the right amount of orange rind, just the right amount of sweetness and toasted almond goodness.
I LOVE biscotti. Be sure to try this out for the festive season. And watch this space for more holiday baking adventures…
- 2¼ cups (270 g) cake flour
- 1 t (5 ml) baking powder
- ¼ t (1 ml) salt
- 4 T (45 ml) butter
- 1 cup (200 g) sugar
- 2 large eggs
- ½ t (2,5 ml) vanilla essence
- ¼ t (1 ml) almond essence
- 1 cup (100 g) whole almonds with skins; toasted in a dry pan, cooled, and chopped coarsely
- 2 T (30 ml) grated rind from 1 orange
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and pre-heat oven to 180°C.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.
- Beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then vanilla and almond essence.
- Stir in almonds and grated orange rind with a spatula.
- Sift dry ingredients over egg mixture, then fold in with a spatula until dough is just mixed.
- Halve dough and roll each half, using well-floured hands, into a rough 30cm x 5cm roll for bigger biscotti. For daintier ones, make the rolls longer and thinner. Place them about 8cm apart on a baking paper lined baking tray. Pat each dough shape to flatten it a little and to smooth it.
- Bake until rolls are golden brown, about 30-35 minutes.
- Cool the rolls for 10 minutes, and lower oven temperature to 160°C.
- Slice each roll diagonally into 2 cm slices with an electric or serrated knife. Lay the slices about 1 cm apart on a cooling rack placed over the baking tray and return them to the oven.
- Bake until crisp and golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
Ina Paarman says: “Biscotti can be stored in an airtight container for 1 month. It is traditional to briefly dunk it into coffee or a sweet wine like sherry or masala. This way it soaks up a little moisture but remains crisp inside.”