We Knead to Bake # 4 - Torcettini di Saint Vincent
Our tryst with "Yeast" at We Knead to Bake has taken us to Italy this month as we all explore these sugar crusted (yeasted) 'Twisted Cookies' from the Valle d’Aosta, (North Western Italy). Strictly speaking they are not cookies but a kind of a bread-stick with a lemony tang. The other optional flavour for a Torcetti/Torcettini would be 'anise'. These biscuits/ cookies are crunchy on the outside with a bread-like texture. They’re not very sweet and pair very well with cold milk, hot chocolate, tea,coffee or wine. They are delicious served warm. History has it that Queen Margaret, the wife of King Umberto I of Savoy loved these biscuits so much during her stay in Valle d'Aosta, that she gave her servants enough provisions to bake an abundant supply for her consumption.
Enjoying this well guided journey with Aparna and the others in the group.
Torcettini di Saint Vincent
Lukewarm Water - 1/2 cup
Active Dry Yeast - 1 1/4 teaspoon
All Purpose Flour - 1 1/2 cups
Salt - 1/4 tsp salt
Lemon Zest - 1 tsp (Anise seed - 1 teaspoon)
Unsalted Butter - 40grams, cold; cut into small pieces
Sugar - 1/3 cup, for rolling the cookies
Take warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle yeast on it. Keep aside, covered until it dissolves.
In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Add the butter pieces and rub in until the butter is well mixed and the flour-butter mixture looks powdery.
Add the yeast-water mixture and gather the dough till it all comes together as a ball.
Do not over process or knead. Place the ball of dough in a oiled bowl, turning it so it is well coated with the oil. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise quite a bit.
The dough does not really double in volume, but it should look “puffy” after about an hour or so. When you pinch off a bit from the top you can see the interior looking a bit like honeycomb.
Punch the dough lightly and wrap it in cling film and refrigerate it for one hour (or up to 24 hours).
To make the cookies:
Roll out the dough with a light hand into a 6” square. If the dough feels sticky, scatter a little sugar on it.
Using a pizza wheel cut the square into four strips of equal width.
Cut each strip into 6 equal squares, making a total of 24 pieces.
Roll each piece into a pencil thick “rope” about 5 inches long.
Sprinkle a little sugar on your work surface and roll the “rope” in it so the sugar crusts the dough uniformly.
Form the “rope” into a loop crossing it over before the ends.
Place the Torcettini on parchment lined baking sheets, leaving 1 1/2 inches between them.
Leave them for about 20 minutes or so till they rise/ puff up slightly. Don’t worry, they will not “puff up” much.
Bake them at 160°C (325°F) for about 25 minutes till they’re a nice golden brown.
Cool the cookies completely, on a rack.
Use parchment paper or grease your cookie sheets and place the shaped Torcettini on them.
Remember to take them off the sheets while still hot. Remove carefully using a spatula.
Once they are cool, the caramelised sugar on the Torcettini will make them stick to cookie sheets.