It’s that time of year where baking takes on a whole new kind of excitement. The house is decorated, the Christmas tree is lit and the television is always set to the Yuletide Fireplace channel, blaring Holiday music. I’m always inspired to bake for friends and family during Christmas. This year however I was challenged with baking something for a friend who recently started eating only gluten-free. I had never tried making anything from scratch that was gluten-free, but I was definitely up for the challenge. So I choose Jamie Oliver’s Gluten-free biscotti recipe. Honestly, this recipe was great for a newbie like me attempting a gluten-free dough. The recipe called for rose water, which I wasn’t sure what that was. So I omitted it altogether but I may substitute vanilla extract in its place for next time. The chocolate is optional in this recipe but since we are going gluten-free I would definitely keep it in. After I made the dough and shaped it into two compact cylinders I wrapped them both up in plastic wrap and kept in the fridge. I continued the recipe the next day and I found that the cold dough was easier to roll out and handle. Don’t get alarmed if you taste the dough and you think “cardboard.” Once baked these biscotti are delicious and the perfect Holiday gift for anyone. Happy baking!
120 g shelled pistachios
200 g gluten-free plain flour , plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
200 g golden caster sugar
30 g dark chocolate (over 70% cocoa solids) , optional
1 large free-range egg
1 teaspoon rose water or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, optional
semi-skimmed milk , optional
Spread out the pistachios on a baking tray, then place in the hot oven for around 5 minutes, or until golden. Leave to cool, then roughly chop – you want nice chunks so don’t chop them too finely.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and the chopped pistachios. Finely chop and add the chocolate (if using). Beat the egg in a separate bowl, add the rose water or vanilla extract, then whisk well until light and frothy. Gradually add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring continuously until you get a firm dough, adding a small splash of milk to bring it together, if needed.
Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. With lightly floured hands, halve the dough, then shape each portion into a cylinder, roughly 30cm in length and 4cm thick. I recommend flattening out each cylinder as the dough rises quite a bit once baked. Place them onto the lined baking tray, making sure they have enough room to spread out as they cook.
Bake for around 25 minutes, or until lightly golden, then allow to cool for 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 150ºC/300ºF/gas 2. Transfer the biscotti to a board, then use a serrated knife to slice it into rounds at an angle, roughly 2cm thick. Place on the tray, cut-side up, then bake for a further 15 to 20 minutes, or until crisp and golden.
Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.