These yeasted biscuits (cookies) are another sweet treat from the beautiful book of traditional Venetian dessert recipes that my mother gave me and they are a speciality of the island of Burano. Like all “traditional” recipes, a search of the internet will turn up a thousand and one variations (in the recipe, name or both), but I stuck to the recipe as given in the book, except that I halved it because we didn’t need 60 of them.
They are like nothing I’ve made before but they are oh, so good!!! While they were baking, the kitchen smelled like pandoro, which had my tastebuds tingling in anticipation, and they did not disappoint. Just a little bit sweet, a crunchy exterior with a soft interior. They aren’t a grab and go cookie – they are traditionally enjoyed dipped in milk, tea or coffee, or dipped in sweet wine at the end of a meal.
Makes about 30
25g fresh yeast (see note below)
120ml (1/2 cup) lukewarm water
500g (4 cups) Type 00 or all-purpose (plain) flour
100g (1/2 cup) granulated (white) sugar
75g (1/3 cup) butter, melted and slightly cooled
pinch of salt
zest of 1/2 a lemon
80ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine
Note on yeast: In the US, a cake of fresh yeast is usually 0.6 oz, so you would need one and a half cakes. If you would prefer to use active dry yeast, use 2 1/2 tsp (or 8.3g). Alternatively, you could probably get away with a standard 7g (1/4oz) sachet of active dry yeast, but you would need to increase the proofing time.
Dissolve the yeast in the water, add half a cup of the flour along with a tablespoon of the sugar and mix together. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 30 minutes, until the mixture doubles in volume.
Add the melted butter, remaining flour and sugar, a pinch of salt and the lemon zest to the yeast mixture and knead everything together. Add the wine little by little, kneading until you have a soft, elastic dough (you may not need to use all the wine). Form the dough into a ball, place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F) and line two baking sheets with parchment.
Pull pingpong ball sized pieces off the dough, roll out with your hands into snakes about 20cm (8″) long and form them into S-shapes or rings. Put them on the baking sheets and into the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, swapping the sheets once or twice, until golden.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.