Every year I watch the Great British Bake Off and always finish the night feeling so inspired to create whatever beautiful bakes the contestants have produced. I’ve even gone to the lengths of buying all the extra equipment I need, and never actually getting round to doing it. (Last year’s teacake moulds are still patiently waiting in my baking drawer!)
Well this year round I’m making a conscious effort (although I’m already a couple of weeks behind)! A few weeks ago, during ‘biscuit week’ on the show, the first challenge was to bake Biscotti. I’ll admit it’s something I’ve never even thought to try myself, so this would be the perfect bake to start with.
I looked around for a recipe that had ingredients both Andrew and I would like and I came across this one by Delia Smith.
I found biscotti to be one of the quickest things to make, with the double bake and the cooling taking up the majority of the time. This recipe was really quite simple. Here’s how I got on:
I decided to make 2 types of biscotti. One which would simply be almond, and another that would be chocolate and coconut. On the show, most of the contestants were using bicarbonate of soda instead of baking powder, but in Delia’s recipe, she recommends baking powder. So I wanted to try them both out and see what difference it made.
First things first, the oven was set to 170 and two baking trays lined with greaseproof paper.
For my almond biscotti I sifted 110g of plain flour, 75g of golden caster sugar, 25g of ground almonds, 50g of flaked almonds and just under a teaspoon of baking powder into a bowl. A quick mix round with my hands and next comes one large egg, and a dash of vanilla extract.
A quick stir with a wooden spoon and then (here comes the messy part), I clumped the mixture together with my hands. Here I think I went wrong, as I added a dash of milk to mop up the rest of the mixture that wasn’t combining – but I think this made my dough a little too moist – so don’t do this!
Turning the dough out onto a floured surface I rolled it into a log shape and popped onto a lined baking tray. Voila! That simple!
I used the same method for the chocolate and coconut version but this time using 25g of desiccated coconut instead of the ground almonds, and 50g of chocolate chunks instead of flaked almonds. Alongside the 3/4 tsp of baking powder, I added in the same amount of bicarbonate of soda.
Now with two biscotti logs, they both went into the oven. 30 minutes on the clock please!
After 30 minutes the bakes were a pale gold, (the chocolate one a bit more brown in colour) with a lovely crispy exterior.
Now I’m not sure why – could have been the addition of bicarb or the way I rolled it out, but my chocolate and coconut biscotti dough was much flatter and wider.
Straight onto a cooling rack, the half baked doughs were left for a good hour to cool completely.
Once cooled, I sliced each dough into equal diagonal pieces, and popped them back into the oven, now at 150 degrees. Another 30 minutes on the clock!
Turns out the flatter and wider dough sliced into much more traditional shaped biscotti pieces, where the almond ones remains quite short in size.
Now for the taste test! Having begun making the biscotti at 7pm, they weren’t fully ready to eat until around 10pm – far too late to be flicking the coffee maker on. So, a token decaff coffee prepared for the ‘dunk test’, Andrew and I made like Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry – pinching a bit off each bake.
The chocolate and coconut biscotti had a much nicer texture – more crisp, but the flavours didn’t seem to work too well together. Perhaps some fruit, like cranberry, could have cut through. The almond biscotti was slightly soft on the inside (I blame that dash of milk I used!) but the general taste was good – they go all soft once you dunk them anyway after all!
Have you been challenging yourselves to Great British Bakes? Would love to see how you’re getting on. And if you have any tips on how to improve my biscotti I’d love to hear them. Catch me on Twitter @LoveinMindBlog