Twice baked

So I made lots of cookies yesterday. I looked at lots of biscotti recipes, which are mostly normal cookie-type doughs (butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder) but I was intrigued by a recipe in The Italian Baker, by Carol Field, which was more of a genoise-type batter (beaten eggs and sugar) without the butter. But just as I poured the sugar into the eggs, I realized that I am not, in fact, going to use sugar for the Bounty of Heart’s Delight. Rather, I am going to use local honey, so the ingredients in front of me were now useless for the purposes of test baking. So I made a cocoa kind of cookie with them, which would have been better if the bottom tray hadn’t got too hot in my oven and burned a bit.

Anyway, I retreated to teh interwebs (where I spent far too much of the day, anyway) and looked into the intricacies of baking with honey. I was advised to reduce baking temperatures by 25º and add an extra 2 Tbsp. flour for each cup of honey, but otherwise it didn’t seem as though the sugar to honey conversion would be too fraught.

So I took a stick of butter and creamed it with about ¾ cup of honey.

I was heartened by how normal and smooth it looked. I added an egg, some lemon zest (although that means I’ll have to source some local lemons) and about 1 tsp. of the fennel seeds I picked yesterday,

which I crushed slightly to release their oils. Then I added 1 tsp. of baking power, a pinch of salt and three cups of flour. I got what looks like a regular cookie dough.

I really have no explanation why I was so unnerved by baking with honey, but there you go.

Biscotti are, indeed, baked twice, with the first baking being a long loaf,

which is then sliced and baked again. I baked the loaf for 20 minutes at 325º and the slices for another 20 minutes at 275º. Et voilà!

And they’re pretty tasty, too, with the fennel and honey coming through without being overpowering. These proportions made about two dozen cookies, and I imagine I’ll want 12 or 14 dozen for the dinner (depending on whether people get greedy and take more than two each.) It remains to be seen whether I’ll bake them at home or at Eulipia, but I want them to be fresh, so I won’t do it until next Friday at the earliest.

Then it was time for crackers. I like the look of this recipe for Olive Oil Crackers. The main problem is the flour. This recipe relies on developing the gluten in the dough to allow one to roll it out thinly, but the flour made from the Sonora wheat grown at Pie Ranch is a low-protein, soft wheat with minimal gluten content. Notice that the original recipe calls for semolina flour, which has a lot of protein. But needs must, so I just added enough flour to make a dough of the right consistency,

cut it into pieces, and let it rest.

After an hour, I rolled it out with my pasta machine (and this is the second time I’ve used it since starting this blog, surely a record.)

Then I laid each piece on the pizza peel, liberally sprinkled with cornmeal, and sprinkled three with mustard seeds

and the other three with black pepper. I baked them on a pizza stone preheated to 450º for 10 minutes, then let them cool before trying them.

Pretty tasty, although I think they could stand to bake for another minute or so, for maximum crunch.

Now how many to make? That was six large crackers for 2 cups of flour. Allow 2 per person? I’m a pig at events like this, but will everyone hoover down appetizers the way I would, and spoil their dinners? Not everyone will come to the farm beforehand, so say 120 crackers, which is 20 times this recipe. I’m glad I got 20 lbs of flour.