24 aprile 2013

Sugar Crusted Twisted Cookies - Torcettini di St. Vincent - We Knead To Bake # 4

 la ricetta in italiano qui

Fourth appointment with We Knead To Bake, the baking group Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen created last January with the very nice idea to bake a different bread every month, 12 breads in all this year.
The choice for this month has gone surprisingly to something sweet and typically Italian, Torcettini di Saint Vincent, crispy sweet cookies from Valle d'Aosta, a mountain region (the smallest in Italy) at the very North, where the magnificent Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc in French, White Mount) proudly stoods with its 4,810 m (15,781 ft), the highest mountain in the Alps and the European Union. You can read some info about this region here.
Torcetti means twisted, and it's the characteristic shape of these cookies. 
They are very friable, greedy sugar crusted, pretty good-looking, ideal for an afternoon tea.

torcetti st.vincent

Aparna gently gives some words about the story of the cookies:
Torcetti/Torcettini are believed to have descended from Grissini (breadsticks) which were made from the leftover scraps of bread dough. According to one story, a Grissini baker had some leftover butter which he needed to use up. Inspiration struck and he decided to add the butter to the last batch of his Grissini dough for the day. To be able to differentiate this lot of “breadsticks” from his Grissini, he rolled them in sugar and shaped them into loops, and the Torcetti was born. Torcetti/Torchettini are usually flavoured with lime/lemon zest or anise. Apparently, Queen Margaret, the wife of King Umberto I of Savoy loved these biscuits so much during her stay in Valle d'Aosta, that she gave her servants enough provisions to bake an abundant supply for her consumption.

 torcetti st.vincent

I already baked Torcettini last year for the Culinary Italian ABC,  and the two recipes are similar, except mine has much more butter and I don't really know if it's and advantage or not: I remember that dough was quite troublesome to manage, pretty slippery if not kneaded for long. This of Aparna's is easy workable, the rest in the fridge is essential and helps a lot, and I appreciated the previous cutting of the dough in 24 equal small squares. But Aparna's Torcetti were a little too dry and crunchy, maybe a little more butter could have helped, or perhaps they should have been baked a little less in my oven.
Nevertheless, they were very good and quickly desappeared! :-)
I baked two batches, one plain and one with chocolate: definetely I prefer plain version.

Recipe adapted from A Baker’s Tour by Nick Malgieri.

For 24 biscuits:

1/2 cup warm water, about 110F
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast 
(or 1 tsp instant yeast)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder 
(if making chocolate torcettini)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lime/ lemon zest 
(replace with orange zest for the chocolate version)
40gm unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
about 1/3 cup sugar for rolling the cookies

torcetti st.vincent

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, in a small bowl and keep aside.

Put the flour and the salt in the food processor bowl (or a largish regular bowl if kneading by hand) and pulse a couple of times to mix. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the butter is well mixed and the flour-butter mixture looks powdery.

If making chocolate Torcetti, remove 2 tbsp all-purpose flour and add the 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder mentioned in the recipe. Don’t add the lemon zest/ anise. Use orange zest and maybe add 1/ 2 tsp instant coffee powder with the flour.

Add the yeast-water mixture and pulse till it all comes together as a ball. Do not over process or knead. Place the ball of dough in a oiled bowl, turning it so it is well coated with the oil. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rise quite a bit.

This dough does not really double in volume, but it should look “puffy” after about an hour or so. When you pinch off a bit from the top you can see the interior looking a bit like honeycomb. Press down the dough and deflate it, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate it for at least one hour or up to 24 hours.

making torcetti

When ready to make the cookies, take the dough out and lightly roll it out into an approximately 6” square. If the dough feels sticky, scatter a little sugar on it. Using a pizza wheel cut the dough into four strips of equal width. Cut each strip into 6 equal pieces, by cutting across, making a total of 24 pieces. The measurements are not very critical in this part because this just makes it easier to have 24 equal sized bits of dough, as compared to pinching of bits of the dough.

Roll each piece into a pencil thick “rope” about 5” long. Sprinkle a little sugar on your work surface and roll the “rope” in it so the sugar crusts the dough uniformly. Form the “rope” into a loop crossing it over before the ends.

Place the Torcettini on parchment lined baking sheets, leaving 1 1/2" between them. Leave them for about 20 minutes or so till they rise/ puff up slightly. Don’t worry, they will not “puff up” much.

Bake them at 160C (325F) for about 25 minutes till they’re a nice golden brown. Cool the cookies completely, on a rack. Store them in an air-tight container at room temperature. 

If making chocolate Torcettini, remove 2 tbsp all-purpose flour and add 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder.  Also add 2 tbsp powdered sugar and replace the lemon zest with orange zest while making the dough.

 This recipe also goes to Susan's weekly YeastSpotting

4 commenti:

Rajani S ha detto...

Beautiful pictures Cinzia, I loved all of them...

Cindystar ha detto...

Rajani, thanks, have a nice week!

Ansh|Spiceroots ha detto...

They look beautiful! I will remember the part about these being a tad dry. Thanks for the heads up, as I am yet to make these.

Cindystar ha detto...

Ansh, thanks so much :-)
Happy baking! :-)

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