Lynda says: "Biscotti are not like other biscuits. They are baked twice so that they dry out and are generally dipped into dessert wine, such as the Italian vin santo, or coffee. I love their hard crunch.
The recipe below is my all-time favourite and makes a big batch so you may want to reduce the quantities. Store the biscotti in airtight jars and they'll keep happily for several months. Change the proportions of fruit and nuts as you like.
I'm sure that in the sophisticated shop in Milan, they would find it hard to envisage me savouring my biscotti, my back against a warm Connemara rock, tea in hand, surveying the colours of the sea."
- 500 g plain flour
- 500 g unrefined caster sugar (this is important for the flavour – it's available in most supermarkets)
- 1 tblsp baking powder
- 5 eggs, lightly beaten
- 200 g dried apricots, sliced
- 100 g plump sultanas
- 100 g pitted dates, chopped
- 100 g pecans
- 100 g whole blanched almonds
- zest of 2 lemons
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan, 350°F, Gas 4.
- Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. Beat the eggs together in a small bowl and add the eggs bit by bit to the flour mixture. You may not need all of the egg, so hold back the last bit. The dough appears very dry at first and then suddenly becomes very soft. Add the fruit, nuts and lemon zest and knead into the mixture.
- Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured surface. Divide into 6 and roll into sausage shapes about 3cm in diameter. Place, at least 6cm apart, on baking trays lined with baking parchment or a silicone mat. Very lightly flatten each roll with your hand. Bake until golden brown, 20–30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave for 10 minutes to cool and firm up. Reduce the oven temperature to 140°C, 120°C Fan, 275°F, Gas 1.
- Gently remove the biscotti from the tray and place on a chopping board. With a serrated knife, cut the biscotti into 5mm slices and lay them side by side on the baking tray. Return them to the oven and cook for 12 minutes, then turn the biscotti over and cook for a further 10 minutes, until they are very pale golden. Do not let them get too dark in colour. Cool on wire racks and then store in an airtight container. The biscotti will harden when cold.
From Lynda's Table is available from all good bookstores and The Dublin Cookery School, http://www.dublincookeryschool.ie/