semolina-pistachio cantuccini; tuesdays with dorie

a day late and a dollar short-almost.  thought this challenge was next week and nearly missed it. luckily, cantuccini are easy to make with this recipe from nick malgieri and the recipe from baking with julia is the same as this recipe on his website.  since i really did not want approximately 80 cookies in the house, i made one third of the recipe.  still, i ended up with about two dozen small, crispy cookies.
honestly, i am a bit of a biscotti snob.  when i first opened my wholesale only bakery in 1997, all i made were biscotti.  my husband and i sold them to nearly every coffee house in town.  my preference is for a softer texture and by softer i do not mean chewy or moist.  my biscotti are dry like a biscotti should be; the difference is that they do not need a soaking to bite into.  luckily, neither did these cantuccini when sliced according to nick’s directions-1/4″ thick.

 today also happens to be my husbands birthday.  he loves biscotti and i knew he would enjoy these.  to bake a cake for just the two of us is really a waste and with a cookie like these, i knew they weren’t going to get stale before they were gone.  the recipe calls for whole almonds and since i was making just a third of the recipe, i only needed 1/2 cup.  and of course, i didn’t have that many.  they quickly became almonds and pistachios.  just to make it interesting, i subbed semolina flour for half of the all purpose flour and added a little kewda water.  if you have never heard of kewda water, it is a floral flavoring similar to rose water and is quite common in indian cooking.  to find it, visit and indian or pakistani market, they are sure to have some.

 nick takes one step in slicing the biscotti that very few recipes follow and it is also something i learned on my own many years ago just by trial and error.  to get perfect slices with almost no breakage, you must let the baked cookie log cool completely.  wrap it up and slice it tomorrow if you have to.  the reason is that the internal moisture will distribute as the biscotti cools and when completely cold, the crispy outer crust will soften and prevent the edges from breaking as you slice through the log.  so listen to nick and listen to me-let it sit!!!

 beautiful, clean slices.  love the color that the semolina and the pistachio give the cookies slices.

 and this is how the log looked after i sliced it-see, no broken pieces!

the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee in the late afternoon.  too bad the husband wasn’t here to share them-he went morel hunting instead.  what can i say, it is his birthday-and i have a feeling i know what we are having for dinner tomorrow…happy birthday darry!

to see what the other bakers came up with, visit the tuesdays with dorie page!

lemon pistachio breakfast cake

every sunday morning, i head out to the demonstration garden to work with my fellow gardeners for a few hours.  it is usually peaceful out there and we always have a good time together.  how can you go wrong if someone always comes out to the garden with a freshly baked cake?  unless you are that someone who is searching through cupboards trying to figure out what to bake…did i mention that the “someone” in question is me?

this week, lemon sounded like a good choice to me.  it has been so hot and lemon sounded light and refreshing; a good choice for a crowd.  that is providing a crowd shows up.  since it was a holiday weekend, i ended up gardening by myself with a cake for company.  luckily, for me anyway, i wasn’t in a sweet tooth mood and was easily able to limit myself to a small slice.

this is a moist cake that is quickly mixed up in one bowl and baked in a medium sized (about 8 cups) bundt pan.  rather than make a glaze as the recipe called for, i opted for a more finger friendly dusting of powdered sugar-we don’t have the time for plates and forks in the garden.

lemon-pistachio breakfast cake

adapted from a recipe by lou seibert pappas.  the original recipe, lemon-glazed buttermilk bundt cake can be found in the 2006 book, coffeecakes, simple, sweet and savory published by chronicle books.

serves 10-12
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
3/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup chopped pistachios (i used unsalted, dry roasted pistachios from trader joe’s)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
powdered sugar for dusting the cake

preheat the oven to 350.  grease an 8 cup bundt pan and set aside.  in a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, zest, canola oil, chopped pistachios and salt and whisk until smooth.  sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda over the top of the egg mixture.  stir it a couple times with a rubber spatula, add the buttermilk and continue to mix until smooth.  scrape it into the greased pan and spread it out evenly.  bake until a pick inserted comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.  allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then invert it onto a rack to cool completely.  to serve, dust the top with a small amount of powdered sugar and cut into slices with a serrated knife.