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Istrian Wedding Biscuits

Traditionally baked for Istrian wedding and baptism celebrations, these beautiful biscuits are delicate and delicious. In Istria they are dunked in Malvasia, the local wine, while still warm from the oven, before being dusted with icing sugar. This recipe from Paola Bacchia's Istria cookbook sees the freshly baked biscuits brushed with a mix of white rum and grappa, or you can simply dust with icing sugar if you prefer.

Istrian Wedding Biscuits

 

Makes about 30

 

Ingredients:

  • 400 g (14 oz/22/3 cups) plain (all purpose) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 120 g (41/2 oz/1/2 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 30 ml (1 fl oz) milk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons white rum
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  • 100 g (31/2 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature, chopped

To finish:

  • 3 teaspoons grappa, for brushing
  • 3 teaspoons white rum, for brushing
  • icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting

 

Method:

  1. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk briefly to combine. Set aside.
  2. Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and beat at medium speed for at least 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, milk, rum and lemon zest and mix briefly.
  3. Reduce the speed to low, then add a heaped tablespoon of the flour mixture. Allow it to be incorporated, then add a knob of butter while keeping the motor running. Allow the butter to blended in, then add another heaped tablespoon of the flour mixture. Keep alternating the flour and butter until they are used up; you may need to stop the motor occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The dough will be cohesive but soft.
  4. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and place on a sheet of baking paper. Cover with another sheet of baking paper, then roll out to a thickness of about 8 mm (1/3 inch); I made a rectangle approximately 25–30 cm (10–12 inches).
  5. Rest the covered and rolled-out dough in a cool spot (or in the fridge if the weather is warm) for about 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) conventional. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
  7. Cut the rested dough into strips about 10 cm long and 2–3 cm (3/4–11/4 inches) wide. Without cutting all the way through, cut four or five incisions along the strips, on the diagonal. Now take the ends of one strip and bring them together, so that it forms a small circle, with spokes pointing outwards. Repeat with the other strips, placing them on the baking trays.
  8. Bake for 10–12 minutes, in batches if needed. The biscuits are ready when they are firm, pale on top and slightly golden underneath.
  9. As soon as you take them out of the oven, brush them with the grappa mixed with the rum, then sprinkle with icing sugar.
  10. Eat once cooled. They will keep for up to a week in an airtight container.

 

This recipe is extracted from Istria by Paola Bacchia. Published by Smith Street Books. RRP AUD $55.00 / RRP NZD $65.00.

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