I love biscotti biscuits, they are great with coffee or ice-cream and this is a lovely time of year in late autumn to make them and experiment with them ready for Christmas. While I have a number of recipes about for these, none of them were gluten and wheat free and that was what I was after. So it was time to experiment, I had a ‘how hard can it be?’ moment, and luckily I think they worked well, they’ve certainly disappeared quickly.
This grain-free version is a little softer than biscotti normally are, but then my teeth were quite thankful for that. I’ve followed a few different biscotti recipes in the past and some like to use mixed spice but I tend to avoid this as I’m allergic to cinnamon. I’ve also found that you can quite safely mix and match the fruit and nuts according to what you have in the cupboard. I rarely have the exact ingredients needed and so have gotten used to swapping ingredients out. These biscotti seemed to go down very well and I’ll definitely be making them again.
Not only are these great for serving with ice cream or coffee, they also make great presents wrapped up in cellophane or presented in pretty boxes.
- 175g Almond flour,
- 175g Coconut flour,
- 2 tsp gluten-free, wheat-free, baking powder,
- 250g vanilla sugar, use golden caster sugar if you don’t have vanilla sugar,
- 3 eggs, beaten,
- Grated zest of 1 orange,
- 85g raisins,
- 85g dried cherries, I used a mixture of dried sour cherries and natural glace cherries, as this was what I had to hand,
- 50g almonds,
- 50g hazelnuts, you could use pistachio nuts but I didn’t’ have any
- Sesame flour for flouring a board.
If you are using a conventional oven, preheat it to 180C/350F/gas4.
Line 2 baking sheets or one AGA cold tray with greaseproof paper. This is great as you don’t have to grease the trays at all and I always find that rather tedious.
Put the flours, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl and mix well before adding the orange zest and eggs. Mix now until the mixture begins to come together in lumps. At this point it gets messy as you really need your hands in there to start pulling it all together.
It may feel that it can’t possibly come together and you may be tempted to add some liquid – DON”T! Just keep kneading and it will come together, it just sometimes takes a while.
Once there are no floury patches left, add the fruit and nuts and mix well so that the fruit and nuts are distributed evenly through the mixture. This mixture is and remains quite sticky.
Turn it out now onto a floured board, you could use more almond or coconut flour but I chose to use a little bit of sesame flour, adding a little more structure to the mix and making it a little less sweet. Not having a hugely sweet tooth, this was, for me, a good move.
Anyway once the mixture is on your floured board, divide it into four equal portions. Roll each portion out with your hands into a sausage shape about 30cm long. Place 2 on each of the smaller trays or you’ll find all four will sit on one large AGA cold tray. I use these for baking all the time and just love how much you can get on them in one go.
Pop these in the oven, use the baking oven of the AGA, and leave to cook for around 25-30 minutes. You want the dough to have risen, spread out somewhat and feel firm to the touch. It also must still be quite pale in appearance, it gets cooked again so don’t look to get it golden brown at this stage. This was mine just below, still pale:
Remove the trays from the oven once the dough is ready and transfer the four biscotti portions to a cooling rack to cool – this can be done quickly and easily by lifting the parchment off the tray and onto the cooling rack, thought you need to do it gently. Leave them to cool for a few minutes until the are cool enough to touch.
At this point if you are using a conventional oven turn it down to 140C/275F/Gas 1. I’ve not tried those settings, these are gleaned from other’s biscotti recipes. I keep going with the baking oven of the AGA for mine.
Once the portions have cooled, you need to take a bread knife and carefully cut the portions into 1cm diagonal slices. You need to be quite gentle in doing this as the mixture is more delicate than normal biscotti, and it crumbles into pieces easily otherwise. Lay the slices flat out onto the baking trays. I just re-used the same parchment paper. It can become a bit of an artform trying to fit them all on but they generally fit.
Bake them for a about a further 15 minutes now, I think mine took a little while longer. You want them to be dry and golden in colour at this point. Having a memory like a sieve these days I tend to set a timer, otherwise I can find my hard work has been turned to charcoal in the AGA – there’s no smell until you open the oven door!
Once baked sufficiently, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Because these are not made with wheat flour and don’t have anything added to help hold them together they are prone to be rather more delicate and crumbly than conventional biscotti, so you’ll need to handle them carefully. Again I found it far faster and easier to carefully tug the greaseproof paper off the AGA tray and onto the cooking rack so that they all moved in one fell swoop.
Leave them to cool and then pack away in an airtight container. They should keep for a week or two quite happily. Again biscotti made with wheat flour will, I know, keep for about a month, but these ones haven’t hung around that long so I can’t state the same for these as yet.
Vary the fruit and nuts used, I think dried cranberries would work quite well and be very seasonal. Also try lemon instead of orange. If you want a christmassy version you could add 2 teaspoons of mixed spice or cinnamon.
Also most people use blanched almonds, I just throw ordinary ones in to mine. They all eat just the same.