• 50g blanched and toasted whole almonds
  • 1 large egg
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water
  • 130g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 cloves ground up
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 50g raisins
  • 15g mixed peel

Is it normal to consider moving house for a baking related reason?

I made hot cross buns the other night. They were not as good as the shop bought ones. Big fail. But it’s not my fault you see. It’s the house. It’s too cold for proper proving. Cue strop about how rubbish the house is and that WE MUST MOVE. If only to bake perfect hot cross buns once a year. Perfectly sensible.

Anyway, as the housing market is slow and Mr B is a lot more level headed than his dear wife, I had to come up with an alternative way to get my hot cross bun kick. I am pleased to announce that hot cross biscotti are:

  1. Easy to make.
  2. Quicker to make than buns.
  3. Require no proving.
  4. Are delicious dunked in Earl Grey tea.
  5. Make the house smell suitably Eastery.
  6. Have an amusing name that make them sound hot under the collar and angry.
  7. Keep for 2 weeks (!)
  8. Make you feel a bit sophisticated and Italian when you eat them.
  9. Can be given ready made or in a cute ‘just add an egg’ glass jar as an alternative to the usual chocolate Easter egg type gift. (Yeah, right – think that might go down badly with a lot of people…)

Anyway, I like them (which is saying a lot for a candied peel hater) and so does Mr. B. Charlie likes them too. If I weren’t so hell bent on feeding my second born son entirely healthy food I think he’d enjoy gnawing on them to ease his teething pain.

Ingredients:

  • 50g blanched and toasted whole almonds
  • 1 large egg
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water (Frankly, you can omit this but I bought some on holiday last year and am damned if I’m going to let it sit unused in the cupboard.)
  • 130g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 cloves ground up
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 50g raisins
  • 15g mixed peel

Preheat the oven to Gas 4. If your almonds aren’t already toasted then pop them in a non stick pan and give them a quick blast on the hob. No oil. Watch them like a hawk. In fact, don’t leave the pan. They go from pale innocent looking things to burnt pellets in seconds. Once browned tip the nuts onto a piece of kitchen roll to cool.

Using an electric hand held mixer cream together the egg, sugar and orange water. Keep going until it’s thicker than when you started and a little paler. Add everything else and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is combined.

Turn the mixture onto a tray lined with baking paper (the white stuff not the brown stuff) and shape into a log. It’s quite sticky so you may need to put a little sunflower oil on your hands to do this. Then put your biscotti log in the oven for around 20 – 25 minutes until it’s brown in colour and your kitchen smells of Easter time supermarket bakeries.

Take it out of the oven and leave on the side for about 5 mins. Then move it gingerly onto a board (it’s still hot) and using a knife with a zig zag edge, cut into thin biscotti size slices. I’d say about 1cm. Put these slices back onto the baking paper lined tray, this time lying flat on their backs and then back into the oven for about 10 – 15 minutes until they’re golden coloured. Be careful of the smaller biscotti made from the ends of the logs. They have a tendency to burn so grab them from the oven a little earlier. This recipe involves a lot of attentive cooking come to think of it. Maybe not for an absent minded day otherwise you could have burnt almonds AND biscotti on your hands. Not good.

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