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!

semolina bundt cake with lemon and thyme

when it comes to bundt cakes, the ones with a pound cake texture are always the easiest to unmold and slice.  if they are scented with lemon and herbs, as this one is, they also seem to be favorites among my fellow garden volunteers.  right now, the herb garden is bursting with thyme in bloom which made adding a few sprigs to this cake the obvious choice.

since i bring a cake whenever i go to the garden, i have to keep it interesting.  that stands to reason for the people eating it as much as it does for me, the person baking it.  while looking through the larder in search of inspiration, i came across my container of semolina flour.  then i stumbled upon the bag of almond flour in the freezer.  semolina flour and almond flour both add to the texture without changing it  visibly.  the color of the semolina and the almond flour after it is toasted accentuate the golden hue of the cake.  freshly grated lemon zest and thyme leaves give it a wonderful aroma as well as flavor and make this a great cake for a picnic.  if you want to go a little crazy, try using slabs of this cake in place of a biscuit or angelfood cake cups for a wonderful shortcake dessert; the cake flavor would blend beautifully with fresh berries.

semolina bundt cake with lemon and thyme
one 10-12 cup bundt serving 12-16
1/2 cup almond flour
1 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup semolina flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons freshly picked thyme leaves
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
preheat the oven to 350.  grease and flour the bundt pan and set it aside.  in a small ovenproof dish or pan, spread the almond flour out and bake it until golden, about 5 minutes.  set aside to cool.  place all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk it together to remove any lumps in the flour.  add the cooled almond flour and stir it in.
in a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar, lemon zest and thyme leaves until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  add the eggs, one at a time and scrape the bowl as you go.  add the dry ingredients to the bowl and by hand using a spatula or spoon, fold them in a few times.  sprinkle the buttermilk over the mixture and continue folding the batter together by hand until no streaks remain.  scape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted, about 45-50 minutes.  allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes and then invert it onto a rack to finish cooling.  to serve the cake, give it a light dusting of powdered sugar.  
this cake recipe is very versatile; try substituting different citrus fruits or herbs as well as nut flours.  orange, rosemary, lime, thyme, lavender, basil, pecan meal-you get the idea!  the list goes on and on…and one more thing, have i mentioned how much i love the herb garden?  best kitchen “tool” ever!

semolina bread; tuesdays with dorie

it was such a dreary and cool morning on saturday that i decided to make the semolina bread for this weeks twd challenge.  after the scorching hot weather of june and early july, it was nice to have a break from the heat-now if we could just do something about the rain…

the tuesdays with dorie festivities this week are being hosted by renee of the way to my family’s heart and anna of keep it luce.  be sure to click on those links to see what everybody has baked-there are over 100 of us participating.

semolina bread is a favorite of mine.  something about the color, the golden hue of the bread…the simplicity of the recipe-a definite plus for me.  this recipe is in nick malgieri’s book, “how to bake” as well as baking with julia and i have made it before.  the two recipes are almost identical-the only real difference is how much flour is added to the sponge with the total amount called in the recipe for being the same.  the chatter over on twd was that it was salty-i did cut it back to 1 1/2 teaspoons after reading several comments on the amount being too much.  however, i think that between cutting the salt and the high humidity of the day, my bread was in a hurry even though i wasn’t!

i didn’t quite understand the description for the slashes so i just did 3 on the diagonal with a serrated knife.

a close up of the slash.  there is a fine line between too deep and not deep enough.  either way, you need a sharp knife or you run the risk of deflating the bread.

the finished loaf.  it took at least 15 minutes longer in my oven (i keep a thermometer in it to monitor the temp for accuracy)  to get the internal temp to 207 degrees, i gave up on getting it to 210.

the interior of the loaf-i think i done good this time!  the crust was nice and chewy and like a real artisan bread crust!  we are having the rest with blt’s since it is tomato season…

tomatoes and arugula from the garden, uncured-dry rub bacon from trader joe’s and homemade bread.
droolworthy, isn’t it…