It's October and my thoughts have drifted back to cookies. I tend to lose interest in the baking of cookies during the summer months. I feel that summer is meant for desserts full of fresh berries or stone fruits, and sadly, those days are now over. But I'll be satisfied moving onto apples and pears, cranberries and pumpkin... and chocolate; something else I seem to avoid during the warmth of summer.
Some of my favorite cookie recipes recently are from, The Il Fornaio Baking Book by Franco Galli, that I purchased way back in the early 1990's. This week I made a bran cookie named Biscotti di Crusca. I would call it the Italian version of the British "digestive biscuit". I've always been fond of the digestives I've found at our grocery. The subtle sweetness of the biscuits is the result of the "germ" remaining in the bran's brown meal after milling. Digestives are sold either plain, such as the cookie I made here, or with a thin coating of milk, semi-sweet, or bittersweet chocolate on top (the ones I always purchase and highly recommend). The word "digestive" in the title was a bit of a conundrum, but after some research I found that the cookies were considered to have antacid properties because of the baking soda added to the batter. Although you can most likely dismiss the latter, they should be eaten and enjoyed for their mildy sweet flavor. The plain digestive is commonly served with tea or coffee, but can also be used as a cracker when serving cheese, or as a substitute for graham crackers in the base of a cheesecake.
When researching Digestive Biscuits, I found the ingredients vary widely. Many use whole wheat flour; some contain oatmeal. The recipe I'm sharing has unprocessed wheat bran and rum as ingredients; a rarity in any recipe I perused.
• 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 cup unprocessed wheat bran
• 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 tablespoon dark run
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Additional flour for work surface
• Parchment for lining baking sheets
1. PREHEAT OVEN to 350˚F
2. Sift together the flour and baking soda into a mixing bowl. Stir in the bran and set aside.
3. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using medium speed, beat the ingredients until the mixture is fluffy, light, and pale in color, about 5 minutes. While continuing to beat at low speed, add the egg, increasing speed to medium, and beat thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula when necessary. Beat in the rum and vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, one third at a time, beating well after each addition until thoroughly incorporated. The dough should appear smooth except for the bran flecks.
4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough in half (refrigerate portion not being used). Roll out half of the dough 1/4-inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter 1 3/4-inches to 2-inches in diameter, cut out as many rounds as possible. Arrange cookies 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. You can gather the scraps and re-roll one more time (any re-rolling after that will produce a tough cookie). Repeat with the remaining dough portion. Using the tines of a fork, prick each cookie several times.
5. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven until golden, 8-10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
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