As you may have guessed from the name of this blog, I’m a somewhat timid cook. Rarely one to experiment or stray from a recipe. Sticking to the rules like the accountant/dork that I am. But the whole point of this blog was to force me to go against my instincts, fight my cautious nature and ultimately become a better cook.
So when I read a recent post from the beautifully written blog rachel eats, I knew I’d found the perfect place to start, my first challenge!
Rachel’s blog focuses on simple, delicious, predominately italian food. The type of food that bursts with bold flavours and showcases quality ingredients. In the post that inspired me, she discussed ‘quantobasta’ or ‘how much is enough’. In a lot of italian recipes, rather than giving precise measurements, the quantity is simply given as ‘q.b.’ and then it’s up to you to get the balance right. (Rachel describes this so much better than me, you really must read her post)
For a scaredy cat like me this concept is fairly terrifying. I couldn’t bear the thought of a kitchen disaster (especially not after the chocolate macaroon debacle, which I can’t bring myself to discuss right now) and I didn’t know if my baking experience would be enough to get me through.
Thankfully this recipe was a fairly gentle introduction, with little scope for an appalling result!
Ciambelline al vino, otherwise known as wine biscuits, are an absolute revelation to me. They feature one of my favourite flavours, the aniseed like punch of fennel seeds. They have a crunchy, sugary top and their texture is reminiscent of shortbread which is ideal as they are designed for dunking. But rather than dunking them in a lovely cuppa, the idea is to dip them in wine.
However, their name isn’t just due to their wine dunking abilities, these babies are also made with wine. Yes, dipping wine in wine, what an fabulous idea, the italians are absolute geniuses! Genii?
The wine imparts a beautiful flavour to the biscuits, but the main selling point is definitely the fennel seeds. In estimating my quantities, I went with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of fennel seeds, but personally I could have taken a little more, I wanted to be punched in the face by aniseed. However, if you’re not such a big fan you can rein it in.
I really recommend that those of you clinging to recipes and exact measurements like me, give these biscuits a go. And even if you’re not, these bad boys are bloomin’ gorgeous so try them anyway! Who could resist a lazy evening with friends, chatting round the table and dunking biscuits in a nice glass of red? I rest my case.
Ciambelline al vino
Taken from rachel eats
The amount of biscuits made from this recipe will vary wildly based on the size of glass you use, I went with a glass that holds 250ml and I made 25 biscuits.
1 glass of sugar
1 glass of wine (I chose white wine, but red will do just as well)
1 glass of extra virgin olive oil
Salt q.b. (I went with a pinch)
Fennel seeds q.b. (I went with a 1 1/2 tsps, but I would up it next time)
Plain flour q.b.
Sugar for topping q.b.
Start by mixing together the sugar, oil and wine in a large bowl. Add the salt and fennel seeds and then start adding the flour. Stir in a little flour at a time, getting your hands involved in the mixing as it starts to become less liquid. Continue to add flour until the dough comes together into a soft ball that cleans the sides on the bowl.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it for about an hour.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180 C / 160 C Fan / 350 F and line a couple of baking sheets with baking parchment.
Flour a clean work surface or chopping board and also coat your hands with flour. Take a walnut size piece of dough, roll it into a log and join the ends together to make a little donut.
Dip one side in sugar and pop it, sugar side up, onto the baking tray. When you’ve used up all the dough, put the baking trays into the oven for 25 – 30 minutes, until the biscuits are lightly browned and crispy.
Turn off the oven and open it a crack (use a wooden spoon handle to stop it closing fully if needs be) . Allow the biscuits to cool fully in the oven.
Pour yourself a glass of wine, dunk and enjoy!