Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cornmeal Biscotti

The Altitude Adjustment Section
I would have to say that the best food I had in Pittsburgh was the authentic Italian Biscotti at Enrico’s, a dumpy looking real-deal bakery on The Strip (which is the marketplace where the people and restaurants shop). Nothing snooty about this place. It's full of large people buying huge amounts of homemade sausage, sides of beef, and Italian imports. I sampled a few biscotti but fell in love with the simple cornmeal one. Not too sweet, really crunchy, and savory at the same time.

1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon rum
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in fennel seeds, rum, vanilla, and eggs until well blended, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. In another bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, and baking powder. Stir or beat into butter mixture until well blended.

Spoon 1 cup dough in dollops down the length of a buttered or parchment-lined 12 by 15-inch baking sheet, 1 inch from edge. Spoon another 1 cup dough down the length of the other side of the sheet. With floured fingers, pat each strip of dough into a flat 13-inch loaf, about 1/2 inch thick and 2 inches wide. Repeat with remaining dough (dough can stand while first loaves bake).

Bake loaves in a 350 degree oven until golden, 15 to 20 minutes; if baking more than one pan at a time, switch pan positions halfway through baking. With a sharp knife, cut loaves crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Separate slices slightly and tip each onto a cut side. Return to oven and bake until cookies are slightly darker and firm and dry to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Gently slide biscotti onto racks to cool completely. They will keep for weeks in an airtight tin.