Tsoureki – Greek Easter Bread

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Tsoureki - Greek Easter BreadTsoureki is a traditional Greek Easter bread. It is very fragrant and flavoursome, with a texture almost like brioche, and has a distinctive aroma and taste, coming mostly from the characteristic Greek flavourings of mahleb and mastika. I must admit I’m not sure how traditional my version is, as there are a few added ingredients that I suspect are not very orthodox. I have also left out the 3 bright red hard boiled eggs with which it is often adorned to symbolise the Holy Trinity and the blood of Christ. But for all that, it is a beautiful thing, both in appearance and flavour. Continue reading

Torta Colombina – Almond Crusted Orange Cake

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Torta Colombina - an intensely orangey cake with a crust of almonds and sugarClandestine Cake Club Cookbook CoverToday sees the publication of the beautiful Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, and I am thrilled to say that on page 116 it contains one of my recipes.

Torta Colombina, as I have called it, is an intensely orange-flavoured cake, with a topping of almonds and sugar that is crunchy on top and slightly squidgy underneath. It was inspired by the Italian Easter bread, Colomba Pasquale, which is similar to panettone, but baked in the shape of a dove. The real thing uses a brioche-like dough, and whilst it is certainly worth the 18 or more hours it takes to make, I wanted to devise something that evoked some of its flavours and textures but was quicker and easier to make.

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E Questo è un Bacio…?

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Hazelnut Baci di Dama sandwiched with plain chocolateAn English version of this post will be found here.

I Baci di Dama sono l’oggetto della sfida di questo mese su Quanti Modi di Fare e Rifare, il gruppo on-line di cucina al quale sono stato felice di aver partecipato per quasi un anno. La ricetta è stata fornita da Artù, il cui bellissimo blog merita una visita per i tanti tipi di specialità regionali che ci regala. Lei ci informa che “i baci di dama sono dolcetti tipici Piemontesi, furono chiamati così perchè la loro forma creata con due calotte semisferiche ricordavano le labbra intente a baciare”. Continue reading

You Call That A Kiss?

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Hazelnut Baci di Dama sandwiched with plain chocolateUna versione italiana di questo post si trova qui.

Baci di Dama, or Lady’s Kisses, are a speciality of the Italian region of Piemonte. Crunchy and nutty, and sandwiched with chocolate, they are traditionally made with hazelnuts, but are also often made with almonds. I couldn’t decide which I fancied most, so I decided to try both. Continue reading

A Plate of Traditional Biscuits

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A plate of traditional biscuits - Custard Creams, Bourbon, Jammy DodgersI thought it was fitting that Signor Biscotti should end the year with some biscuits, although these are not Italian biscuits, but are instead about as British as you can get.

These Jammie Dodgers, Bourbons and Custard Creams are far more exciting than those that you would find on the supermarket shelves. With the possible exception of the Custard Creams, they look much more glamorous than their commercial counterparts, and they smell good too. They have a delicate, light, crunchy texture and, last but not least, are richly flavoured. Continue reading

I also made… all sorts of things

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Cinnamon buns proving - from a recipe by Edd KimberLife has been pretty hectic recently and it looks set to remain so for at least another month. As a result, I haven’t found much time to blog. So I thought I would publish a gallery of things that I have baked but haven’t got around to blogging about yet, as a taster of what is to come on Signor Biscotti.

To view the gallery, click on any of the images below.

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Ginger Curd

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I’m aware that this is slightly random recipe to be appearing on Signor Biscotti, but I was inspired by the fact that October’s theme for Tea Time Treats was Jams, Chutneys, Curds and Conserves.

As it happens, I have done quite a bit of preserving in my time, but for various reasons I had fallen out of the habit. But on a recent holiday, I bought a jar of a rather lovely ginger curd, and have since been unable to find anything similar in the shops. So that was another incentive to don my preserving hat once more. Continue reading

Rowies (Aberdeen Butteries)

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Although I was born and brought up in Devon, in the south west of England, my parents came from Aberdeen, that lovely sparkling granite city in the north of Scotland. It is almost as far from Devon as you can get without actually leaving the UK, so we only made occasional visits there, to visit the relatives and be feasted with endless cups of tea accompanied by home baked cakes and biscuits.

One of my favourite Aberdonian things were these rolls, which we always called Rowies, although their official name is Butteries. Continue reading

Make Fondant Fancies…? Are You Mad?!?

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In the Final of this year’s Great British Bake Off, the Technical Challenge was to make Fondant Fancies. None of the contestants did very well, and while viewers may have been surprised by that, they were almost certainly taken aback by the frankness with which Mary Berry, who is normally so supportive, expressed her disappointment at the bakers’ efforts. But I knew exactly what they were going through, for I have made Fondant Fancies myself, and it was not by any means my happiest baking experience. Continue reading