Thursday, August 15, 2013

Biscotti - here comes an egg free version loaded with nuts

Long before India became independent from the colonial rule, Rabindranath Tagore wrote this beautiful poem visualizing a new, awakened India. It was later translated to English by himself and included in his Nobel prize winning collection Geetanjali. I remember reciting this on many occasions during my school years and every time it was a surreal experience. Now after so many years, making home in two countries and loving them both with my heart, Independence day holds a special significance. While the generation of our elders that took part in India's independence struggle is slowly vanishing, while we still have a lot more to do before the dream becomes a reality,  I wanted to share this beautiful piece with all of my readers.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake
Happy 67th Indian Independence Day!
Those of you familiar with my blog already know that I am part of a group called Baking Partners started by Swathi. We bake savories or sweets every month and post it on the 15th. We usually get a couple of related recipes to choose from and the challenge is flexible to accommodate egg free, gluten free, high altitude revisions to the original recipes. While I chose to break free from my egg aversion for the last 2 challenges, this time I wanted to try it without eggs. Of the 4 recipes Swathi sent us, the family voted for the Italian Biscotti.

Biscotti (biscotus in singular form) have an Italian origin meaning 'twice baked bread' referring to the baking process. Fresh baked bread is allowed to cool very slightly before being cut into oblongs and baked for a second time until they are crunchy and hard. These stay well on journeys thus making them popular during travel and war!

If you have never had Biscotti before, imagine a much less dryer version of the tea time favorites - Rusks. Biscotti are not overly sweet and are traditionally served with a drink such as orange juice so it can be dunked in the juice if preferred. Good biscotti hold shape and do not crumble, elegantly sweet and is a party in the mouth as you can mix & match flavors you like. I chose to do a simple biscotti flavored with orange tangerine rind and loaded with walnuts, the end result was a crisp, sweet treat that had walnuts popping in every bite with a burst of citrus flavor.

So far I have tried 2 different egg replacements in my baking experiments, you can use flax meal soaked in water to replace the eggs in cakes or use fruit sauces in cookies. These work really well and you just need to be cognizant of which one works where and the amount for the replacement. I had book marked a few of those recommendations and tried apple sauce in my biscotti today. I also reduced the butter from the original recipe and upped canola oil slightly. Biscotti were delicious, perfectly crunchy without being hard and disappeared just like hot cakes :-) since I made the first batch yesterday.
What do you need to make Walnut Biscotti?
1.5 cups All purpose flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Tblsp butter (at room temperature)
6 Tblsp unsweetened apple sauce
1 Tblsp grated rind of orange/tangerine (replace with lemon rind if you prefer)
3/4 Tsp baking powder
1 cup walnuts
2 Tblsp canola oil (or any other non flavored oil)

How do you make Walnut Biscotti? 
  • Preheat the oven to 325F, spread the walnuts on a cookie sheet and bake them for 5-7 minutes or until they are toasted crisp. 
  • Remove the walnuts from the oven, let cool slightly and chop then into small bits. 
  • Bring sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat them with a fork until smooth. 
  • Mix oil, apple sauce and the orange rind into the bowl. 
  • Sift flour and baking powder into the bowl and mix everything together to make a soft dough. 
  • Prepare a cookie sheet by spreading a layer of parchment paper on it. 
  • Dust your hands slightly with AP flour and divide the dough into 2 pieces and shape them into logs. 
  • Place the logs on the parchment paper leaving a couple of inches between them. 
  • Bake for 28-30 minutes and take out the cookie sheet. 
  • Let the baked logs cool for a couple of minutes before slicing them with a sharp knife. 
  • Place the cut biscotti back on the parchment paper with one of the cut sides down, put it back in the oven for 8 minutes, flip them over and continue to bake for another 6-8 minutes or until you see the biscotti developing a golden hue all over. 
  • Remove from the oven, let cool (pop a few in the mouth as you wait, they taste delicious when warm) completely before storing them in air tight container. 
  • I cannot tell you how long they will stay fresh as my biscotti are all gone :-)
  • Original recipe asks you to wait for 10 minutes between the bakes but I found it easier to cut through the softer (and hotter) logs and did it after letting it sit for a couple of minutes. 
  • Original recipe asked to add a Tblsp of crushed coriander seeds, I didn't do it as DD doesn't like coriander seeds flavor especially when she gets a piece in the mouth. 
  • I added tangerine rind since that is what I had on my counter top and the flavor was immensely pleasant. You can experiment with other citrus fruits you like. 
  • Reducing the butter from its 4 Tblsp to 1 Tblsp really didn't matter at all and I have started to think if all that 8 Tblsp would have made it way too buttery for our tastes. I am sure the apple sauce helped provide the required texture and the little bit of butter brought in the required flavor  - a win-win for all. 
  • A couple of popular Biscotti variations are almonds, hazelnuts, chocolate, pair them with a good vanilla or almond extract. I am thinking cardamom will lend a wonderful aroma to biscotti too.
  • When you take out the biscotti after the second bake, they do not have to be very crunchy as they turn harder on cooling.


LG said...


NamsVeni Pothas said...

very nice and sweet one.
we too wish a very very happy Inidans and celebrate the national festival . Jai Hind

beingFab said...

Love all the nuts in them, interesting eggless version!

Kaveri Venkatesh said...

Very nicely made biscotti..looks good

Chitz said...

Love those biscottis !! Perfectly done Naga :)

Suja Manoj said...

Love this egg less version,crunchy and yummy

Swathi Iyer said...

Delicious biscotti, your eggfree version. I loved making it too.

Priya Suresh said...

Eggless biscottis came out prefectly, its really hard to retain the biscotti shape without eggs, urs rock.

Amrita Vishal said...

Amazing eggless Biscotti