Good thing it's a leap year, I had one more day to procrastinate on this month's BBB buddy bake. I needn't have, these crispy Sicilian Spicy Rusks were full of flavor and texture. They got a thumbs up from me and R. I was surprised that they didn't fly with the hubby because he loves rye crisps and these reminded me of those. I think my olive oil is getting too old and possibly left a bitter flavor for him. *Sob* I'll try again with really good fresh stuff. I've never been that big on sweet biscotti simply because they are so hard. This savory version does not have that problem - the olive oil makes them super crispy and tender. I really loved the hit from the black pepper. Very interesting bread/cracker. The original recipe was generously shared by the author, Anissa Helou. You can find the original BBB post at Notitie van Lien. What follows is the recipe as written on her post. (I used a mix of flours, spelt, semolina, and all purpose as well as a mix of fennel, sesame and caraway seeds for my "what's available in the pantry" version.)
Biscotti Picanti (Sicilian Spicy Rusks)(makes about 36 rusks)
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (1 package = 7 grams)
¼ cup (60 ml) warm water
1 ⅔ (± 225-255 g) cups AP-flour (+ extra for kneading and shaping)
1 ⅔ (240 g) cups semolina flour
¼ cups (25 g) aniseed
3 TBsp (28 g) white sesame seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup + 2 TBsp (150 ml/130 g) extra-virgin olive oil (+ extra for greasing the bowl)
¼ cup (60 ml) dry white wine
115 ml water
1. Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup/60 ml warm water and stir until creamy.
2. Combine flours, aniseed, sesame seeds, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the olive oil in the well and rub into the flour with your fingertips until well incorporated.
3. Add yeast, wine and ½ cup (115 ml) warm water en knead briefly to make a rough ball of dough. Knead this for another 3-5 minutes or so. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
Knead for another 3 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and let rise in a lightly greased bowl, covered with greased plastic, for 1 hour in a warm place (or until doubled).
4. Divide the dough in 3 equal pieces and shape each piece into a loaf about 12”( 30 cm) long.
Transfer the logs to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and leaving at least 2 inches/5 cm between them so they can expand. Take a dough cutter (or sharp knife) and cut the loaves into 1 inch/2,5 cm thick slices (or if you prefer them thinner in 1"/1 cm slices). Cover with greased plastic and let the rise for about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 500ºF/260ºC.
5. Bake the sliced loaves for 15 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 175ºF/80ºC.
Separate the slices and turn so that they lie flat on the baking sheet. Return to the oven and bake for about 1 hour more, or until golden brown and completely hardened (if not totally hardened, return to the turned off oven to let them dry more).Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Serve at room temperature, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
(adapted from: “Savory baking from the Mediterranean” - Anissa Helou)