Thursday, April 25, 2013

Torcettini de St. Vincent | We knead to Bake #4

If you think breads or kneading is threapeutic then I have something else to add to it. Along with breads,cookies are also my "pick-me-ups'.

 Ofcourse our cookie obsession starts right from childhood or say by 2 years of age. Instead of chocolate which we say " decays tooth" we give the kids cookies/biscuits with milk as snack or think about the traditional cookie- milk snack for Santa. 

But you are wrong if you think I love munching them. I love baking them and go for different varieties in them.Whenever I am at a baking low, baking cookies pulls me up. And on one such cookie baking experiment it was a yeasted cookie- my previous oven conked out.

No worries, I did bake a cookie and that too a yeasted one. From my googling, I have come under the assumption that yeasted cookies give slightly different results from a normal cookies. Yeasted cookies are tastier and yeast in them gives slight puffiness and flavour. Atleast thats what I got from Torcettini de St.Vincent that we baked for We Knead to Bake #4. The recipe is adapted from A Baker's Tour by
Nick Malgieri.

These are twisted sugar cookies made of flour,yeast, butter dough, and rolled into sugar before baking.The origin of these biscuits is believed to be from Grissini (breadsticks) which were made from the leftover scraps of bread dough. According to one story, a Grissini baker had some leftover butter which he needed to use up. Inspiration struck and he decided to add the butter to the last batch of his Grissini dough for the day. To be able to differentiate this lot of “breadsticks”, he rolled them in sugar and shaped them into loops, and the Torcetti was born. Torcetti/ Torchettini taste even better when they’re flavoured with lime/ lemon zest or anise.
These biscuits are crunchy, not very sweet and pair very well with cold milk, hot chocolate, tea/ coffee or wine. They are delicious served warm and equally good cold, and keep very well if stored in airtight containers. Apparently, 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. (source: Aparna)

Ingredients:
Warm Water: 1/2 cup, about 110F
Instant yeast: 1 tsp (active dry 1 1/4)

All Purpose Flour: 1.5 cups
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Cold Cubed Unsalted Butter:  40 gms
Lemon Zest: 1 tsp

Granulated White Sugar: 1/3 cup + for rolling the cookies

Preparation:

Dissolve yeast  in warm water and let it sit until yeast starts working.

In a food processor, pulse together flour and salt and then add cubed cold butter and lemon zest and pulse few times till it looks powdery. 

Add in the yeast-water mix and pulse few more times till the dough comes together in a ball.

Place the dough ball in a well oiled bowl turning once to coat it with oil and let it rise quite a bit covered with a plastic wrap.

The dough doesn't double ,but it puffs up a bit until about an hour or so. Deflate the dough gently,wrap it and chill in the fridge for an hour or so. You can chill it upto 24 hours as well.

Once you are ready for baking the cookies, roll out the dough in to a 6' square. If the dough is sticky sprinkle some sugar and continue rolling out.Using a pizza wheel, cut the dough into 4 pieces of equal width. Cut each strip into 6 pieces across, totalling 24 pieces of equal size.

My size is just approximate and not in perfect agreement with the above numbers. :D


Roll each piece into a pencil thick “rope” about 5” 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.

Here, if you have noticed, the dough does not include sugar at all. Just rolling in sugar will sweeten it but its just not enough for a sweeeeet person like me. For me cookies are sweet unless you are going for a savoury cookie adding required ingredients.

So for few pieces, before turning out into ropes, I rolled or stuffed with little sugar and then again rolled the rope into more sugar before turning it into a loop.

Place each loop on parchment lined baking sheet leaves about 1.5 " between them. Let them sit for another 20 minutes till they start puffing up. Compared to the first "rise" this one was more prominent and they rose beautifully.

Bake the torcettinis at 160C (325F) for about 25 minutes till they’re a nice golden brown. Cool the cookies completely, on a rack. Store them in an air-tight container at room temperature.



Yum cookies, just rightly sweet and crisp. They actually reminded me of palmiers or the little hearts biscuits that are available here. Thanks Aparna for this wonderful deviation from breads, this month.You can also see step by step pics at Aparna's post.


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